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Here’s Why We’re Leading Wellbeing In Design: Asia Pacific’s Best Wellness Spaces

  •   11 July 2018

Wellness continues to be a central driver in contemporary design. Here are the region’s best wellness spaces according to the INDE jury this year.


What does it mean to design for wellness? We know that good design can privilege many things – colour, symmetry, practical functionality… but perhaps the most powerful aspect of modern design is designing to positively impact the health and overall wellbeing of the people using a space. From small yet thoughtful design choices such as the strategic placement of water or rest stations and the use of non-toxic materials and eye-easy lighting to broader reaching architectural designs to guide people with confrontational suggested design – wellness is a something we can’t overlook in modern design, and something we believe deserves honouring and championing at INDE 2018.


Presenting the Winner of the 2018 Wellness Space INDE.Award:

Bendigo Hospital by Silver Thomas Hanley with Bates Smart

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Photography: Shannon McGrath


With this celebration of design excellence in mind, it’s with a huge amount of pride we’re thrilled to announce the winner of the 2018 Wellness Space INDE.Award. The entries were incredible high quality for this inaugural ward, and the shortlist alone was a suite of wellness design mastery. Ultimately though, it was the joint work of Silver Thomas Hanley and Bates Smart for their work on Bendigo Hospital that won over the judges. A huge congratulations to both Silver Thomas Hanley and Bates Smart for the truly inspired on the massive $630 million project. Hospital design is a field where wellness is paramount in the design process, and Bendigo Hospital, the largest healthcare facility in its area, achieves wellness in spades.

The design brief centred upon building not only a world-class healthcare facility, but also creating a welcoming, holistic and positive environment that would consider its regional location with a future-proofed healthcare service. Silver Thomas Hanley and Bates Smart designed with the belief that modern hospitals should be places that promote wellness within the community, rather than just places that treat illness. The design therefore incorporates a holistic framework that considers the needs of patients, staff and the community, and offers a tranquil and caring environment through the integration of architecture, landscaping, health planning and evidence-based design.

Celebrating the importance of nature and its impact on the wellbeing of not only patients but also hospital staff was a key design strategy in planning the hospital. Hospital rooms and circulation spaces have direct connection with natural elements, be it in the form of landscaped views, external garden spaces, internal courtyards or landscaped roofs and planted screens. In the main public space, a bespoke woven timber ceiling runs between the hospital’s two entrances. The pattern filters daylight providing an ever-changing dappled light effect.

This is not only a beautiful hospital, but an inspiring one. One that evokes wellness inside and out, and one we can be proud to see in our region.


Honourable Mention:

Artemis Centre, Melbourne Girls Grammar by BVN


Photography: Peter Bennets


Changing the idea of a school to a place students will actively enjoy going needs to start from the ground up – and this is what BVN did with their design for the Artemis Centre at Melbourne Girls Grammar school, our Highly Commended project from the Wellness Space category. An early childhood through to year 12 school, the school’s mission is ‘Empowering Tomorrow’s Women’ – and wellness design is a big part of that.

The Artemis project specifically promotes holistic physical, mental social and spiritual wellness across the entire student population, as well as the school’s alumni and by extension the greater community. BVN’s smartly designed diverse spaces, aspect, internal and external connections and landscape respond to this intention, giving the school the capacity and opportunity to deliver its mission. Including a pool, full-size netball, basketball and other court sports team zone, a high-energy gym space, a fitness centre, multi-functional education rooms, variously sized ‘Me Zones’ for wellness, a café, change rooms and administration facilities, the design employs holistic, surprising design to create a space the greater Melbourne area can be proud to house.


The 2018 Wellness Space Award is Proudly Presented by Mafi

The team at Mafi Timber believes in this advocacy of wellness design too, and it’s clear in their products range. Stylish, sustainable, and versatile, Mafi’s range of natural timber flooring products brings the best elements of nature into the indoor space. Commercial environments, retail spaces and homes alike can benefit from this re-introduction of the natural into the built.

By bringing the warmth, tactility, and unique look and feel of timber indoors, Mafi helps people reconnect with the world around them and avail of the benefits of immersion within natural materials and environments. The softness and familiarity of timber helps put occupants at ease, and can help support them in achieving their fullest potential within a space.

Not just beneficial for mental wellbeing, Mafi products also take advantage of the physical health benefits of natural timber. These include healthier indoor air quality, a toxin-free environment, and the absence of irritants that may cause or exacerbate allergies and asthma. We’re proud to have partnered with Mafi in awarding the Wellness Space award for INDE 2018 – like their product range, it’s a natural fit.


INDE.Awards 2018 Gala

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Ella Brichta of Mafi Australia announcing the category winners. Photography: Mark Lee.


For the INDE.Awards 2018, we wanted to go bigger and better than before. Australia and the Asia Pacific’s best came together to celebrate great design, which is what we at Indesign Media Asia Pacific are all about. The event was launched last year with the intent of recognising the Asia Pacific region’s most progressive design and architecture on a global stage – and celebrating our region as a true space for terrific design. Our many contexts are unique, and so are the designs that respond to them. The INDE.Awards are the new benchmark for design accolades across our diverse and dynamic region, assessing Asia Pacific’s designers and designs on the region’s own terms, not the terms of the world’s other design centres.

A takeaway from the 2018 INDE.Awards is that wellness is a fluid concept – easy to appreciate when done properly, but tricky to design. Our shortlist showed off a suite of projects where wellness was at the fore of the design, and these completed projects are all the greater for it. We thank our sponsor Mafi and congratulate all shortlisted entries for helping us celebrate this important facet of contemporary design – and give a massive congratulations to our gold medal winning team of Silver Thomas Hanley and Bates Smart for their exemplary work on Bendigo Hospital.


Mafi and Indesign Media congratulate Silver Thomas Hanley, Bates Smart and BVN on the best Wellness Spaces of Asia Pacific in 2018.