The pandemic has highlighted the challenging living conditions many city makers in shared accommodation face. The spaces we live in contribute to our wellbeing, and especially in big cities, it is vital to live somewhere that is not only affordable and well located but also well designed. That’s why promoting wellness in Pocket developments has always been a fundamental part of our design.
We collaborated on research with LSE London to provide a snapshot of how London’s young renting workforce lived during lockdown. We found that those surveyed had on average just 9.3 sq m of private personal space; isolation, cramped living conditions and lack of access to outside spaces are problems that many city dwellers face, but the pandemic really brought them to the surface.
Pocket resident Ben Channon, who is Head of Wellbeing at Assael Architecture and author of Happy by Design: A Guide to Architecture and Wellbeing, gave us his thoughts on how buildings affect our mental health. He spends much of his time advocating for healthier buildings, telling us:
‘We spend over 90% of our time in buildings, so architecture (particularly our homes) can affect us in many ways. Bigger windows can help regulate our circadian rhythms and improve our sleep. Great communal spaces can encourage us to be more social and counteract loneliness, which we know has a significant impact on morbidity rates. And the use of natural materials like timber or stone has been shown to improve our mood and even lower our blood pressure.’
At Pocket Living, we have always used clever design to promote wellness, and we will place even greater emphasis on this in the future. Read on to learn more about how we are promoting wellness in Pocket developments and how we are continuing to innovate.
All Pocket developments have shared spaces, such as rooftop terraces, landscaped gardens and communal hubs. Our communal rooftop terraces increase biodiversity in our developments whilst providing additional amenity space for residents, where they can get fresh air and socialise with neighbours. Some of our developments have allotments, where residents can work together to populate plant beds with vegetables, herbs and flowers, making their developments greener and more sustainable.
Working from home
The findings from our report with LSE show that during lockdown, 37% of those surveyed were sleeping and working in their bedroom, and nearly half of respondents reported not having a suitable place to work. Many were also affected by noise and limited privacy, and the lack of a suitable workspace can be largely detrimental to wellbeing.
Communal working-from-home and break out areas are often provided at Pocket developments to provide residents with an alternative place of work beyond their home offices. This is especially significant as remote working becomes more of a norm, and it can facilitate interactions between residents in a professional context. If residents do want some privacy, many choose to set up home offices in the living rooms of their Pocket homes. Following lockdown, we have produced a document to help residents create a more optimal working from home environment.
Each Pocket development has its own unique sense of community; with residents being local first-time buyers, they already have a lot in common. Before they move in, we host a welcome drinks reception so they can get to know each other, but since this hasn’t been possible during the pandemic, we have been providing vouchers for new residents so they can still safely interact with new neighbours in a local venue, on us. We also help buyers set up a residents’ management committee to decide how their building should be run.
Pocket buyers have a support network of like-minded people, and we promote this sense of community wherever we can. The Pocket App was introduced to Varcoe Road SE16 in 2019, and it has become particularly crucial during lockdown where we have seen residents sharing advice and providing support to one another digitally. Given its success, we are now rolling out this technology to all future schemes.
We are continuing to innovate wherever we can to promote wellness in our Pocket developments. We are creating a working group to develop a list of recommendations from residents, and we are exploring options for future developments, including enhanced wellness areas, spaces designated for exercise and urban farms. There is one thing that is certain – we must place utmost importance on the further evolution of delivering innovative homes that meet modern needs.