Project description

ShrubHub is a community workspace in the heart of Leith which was designed in response to the revaluation of the workplace due to the Covid 19 Pandemic.

This project was motivated by my interest in the science behind how the built environment impacts people's health, wellbeing and behaviour. The research stages of this project involved an in-depth investigation into the theory behind this. Biophilia, environmental psychology, human-centred and evidence-based design were central to informing the design process.

The main objective of this project was to create a nourishing working environment that could help to rebuild a community after a year of social isolation due to the pandemic. It was also vital that this environment was designed in a way that could adapt to changing restrictions, allowing the community to be maintained during the everchanging course of this pandemic.

Visual of ShrubHub showing garden, stair and arches expand

The layout of ShrubHub was centred around maximising the available natural light and the creation of an interior garden. In order to do this, only half of the existing site is inhabited by my design. This resulted in several tiered terraces flooded with natural light and with views of the internal garden and beyond. A central aim of ShrubHub was to create a variety of working and break environments that could provide refuge a from over-stimulating environments, as well as creating more energetic, social spaces to give people choice and control over their environment.

The geometry of the design was largely informed by the shell of the existing site. The aim was to emphasise and create a symbiotic relationship between the existing features and the new design. The arches emphasise and frame the large arched windows of the external shell while the various terraces allow people to take in the full scale of the interior façade of the existing site. The aged bronze double stair incorporates and wraps around the existing steel columns and beams creating viewing platforms on each level as well as bringing both sides of the building together.

ShrubHub Ground Floor Plan expand
ShrubHub First Floor Plan expand
ShrubHub SecondFloor Plan expand

Another key aspect of this project was creating an environment that had the versatility and flexibility to withstand the rest of the pandemic. I intended to design this space in a way that ensured the community could be maintained throughout the changing restrictions while still remaining safe.

In order to achieve this Shrubhub has been designed to be flexible in its use, for example, all furniture is modular allowing for the spaces to adapt to changing restrictions. More space has also been designed into all circulation areas to allow for social distancing, one way systems and bubbles or zones.

Materiality was also an important consideration throughout the design process. Where possible, antimicrobial materials, fabrics and coatings have been used on all surfaces, especially touchpoints. For example, bronze, a copper alloy metal with naturally occurring antimicrobial properties, has been used on the stair, handrails and other touchpoints throughout the building reducing opportunity for transmission of the virus.


Visual of ShrubHub showing stair and popup space expand