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Designing for health & wellness; green elements grow a better future


Buildings are more than four walls and a roof. Research shows that their design, construction and maintenance have a profound impact on the people who experience them. Careful, considered design will enhance the user’s life, improving health, happiness, wellness and productivity. That makes it fundamental to consider the wellbeing of future users from the inception of a project.

Emerging awareness of the importance of this has led to the creation of the WELL Building Standard from the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI). Established in 2014, these standards measure the impact on human health and wellbeing of a built environment. At MVSA we’ve been weaving the elements needs for WELL certification into our designs for over fifteen years. We don’t just want our users to love the buildings we create, but also to have their lives improved by experiencing them. 

One area which needs careful consideration is the integration of natural, green aspects into a design. From indoor gardens to breath-taking atriums, the right element in the right place will have a positive impact on user’s wellbeing and promote health at work. Here are some of our favourite projects where we incorporated indoor gardens or spacious atriums. 

Our roots go deep…


Completed in 2002, the head office for the ING group was our coming of age projects. Pioneering at the time, the building features multiple indoor gardens and atria throughout the space. From a ground level bamboo garden to the roof top patio with pine trees, green spaces are seamlessly integrated with the building. This addition of nature coupled with sustainable designs and open spaces shows that the project has a clear focus on the quality of life and wellbeing of our users. 

Since the ING group moved their head offices in 2015, the building has been taken over and renamed the Infinity. The new owners, CBRE Global Investors, repurposed the building but worked with MVSA to ensure that the heart and nature weren’t altered in the redevelopment. 

A growing trend


Fast forward to 2008 and you’ll find another stunning, green project from MVSA. This time we were asked to reimagine the Dutch Ministry of Finance in The Hague. With our focus on the health and wellbeing of our users, we decided to repurpose the buildings two existing gardens. 

The first was opened to the community, accessible via two welcoming entrances, this new public space is truly open to all. The second garden was given a glass roof and reimagined as a cosy atrium where staff and visitors can mingle and relax. Both gardens were then landscaped and planted with tamarind trees and orchids to enhance their wellness benefits. 

We also added in palm gardens to the upper floors of the building to promote a healthier and more productive working environment. Before adding the final proof of the buildings new, green credentials with a two-storey, glass encased winter garden at the corner of the Korte Voorhout and Prinsengracht.

Promoting health with WELL principles


The HagaZiekenhuis is one of the largest hospitals in the Netherlands, based in The Hague. Designed around the Planetree model for patient healthcare, the environment should make patients, staff and visitors feel at home.

The new building is a giant figure eight, with two landscaped atria at its heart. The first atrium is designed for adults, whilst the second has a focus on children. Both benefit from a glass roof which ties in with the design principle of being able to see the grounds of the hospital from anywhere in the building.

Beyond the atria, MVSA delivered a space which uses light, transparency and green principles to promote healing and wellness in everyone in the building. 

Each of these projects saw MVSA putting the wellbeing of users at the heart of our designs. It’s central to our thinking and a passion of our team which shows in every project we’ve completed but also in recent projects like Atrium Zuidas and all the projects yet to be started like Flow. As a final note we just want to say that we are particularly proud of the new WTC in Utrecht which is the first WELL™ Building Standard certified building in the Netherlands. It is one of the largest offices in the Netherlands to gain the latter certification.

Designing for health & wellness; green elements grow a better future