Report is practice’s first in depth investigation into health

Heatherwick Health


Heatherwick has called for the creation of community-led health spaces on urban high streets that focus on living well rather than treating illnesses.

In a newly published report, the practice said the facilities would take pressure off stretched NHS services and revive declining city centres.

The study, called “Health Street”, is Heatherwick’s first in depth look at improving health services. It sets out a vision for a “radical” approach to health that combines local business and social spaces in one familiar setting that “feels completely different from normal clinical environments like a hospital or GP surgery”, the practice said.

It was created in collaboration with experts in medicine, social care, place-making, real estate, data analytics, public policy and service design. The idea aims to address growing social inequalities and support new initiatives, such as integrated care systems and social prescribing.

Heatherwick partner and author of the report Lisa Finlay said: “We want to create a new kind of place for health that’s convenient and welcoming. It’s about bringing life back to city centres and taking some pressure off national health care institutions.

“It starts by making use of spaces that already exist in town centres that need a fresh start and are really well connected to residential communities.

Heatherwick Health 2

The practice said the centres could take pressure off under pressure NHS services

“It’s then about building connections between charities, community groups, local business and health services, and providing a whole range of activities that might stretch from arts programmes, cooking classes, music studios and gardening to community diagnostics, dieticians and physio, or just socialising. 

“This is a genuinely holistic approach to your health and wellbeing,” Finlay said.

The report outlines seven steps to creating a ‘Health Street’, from creating a ‘seed space’ in vacant or under-used buildings to growing interconnected services and activities which can welcome people in and spill-over onto the street. It includes a theoretical test scenario for a Health Street that could be created at Lister Gate in Nottingham.

Finlay joined Heatherwick in 2011 and is currently working on a vision for the future of Nottingham city centre, the transformation of a life science research hub in Surrey, and a new net zero office building in Madrid.

She also worked on Heatherwick’s Coal Drops Yard in King’s Cross and is a member of Redbridge council’s design review panel. Other reports she has led at the practice include a study on a community based alternative to prison for women.