University of Edinburgh Wellbeing Centre

Putting health and wellbeing at the forefront of design, student life and the university experience

For the first time, the University of Edinburgh’s new Health and Wellbeing Centre on Bristo Square brings together the institution’s previously disconnected Counselling and Disability services, University Pharmacy and University Health Centre, in a now fully accessible facility dedicated to both clinical and holistic mental and physical well-being. Located in the heart of the University’s Central Area Campus, the innovative, student-focussed facility adapts an existing 1970s Modernist building, originally the University’s Refectory and latterly bookable teaching space, through peeling back decades of unsympathetic interventions, reconfiguring its internal layout to achieve accessible routes, and creating a new front door and arcade onto a prominent civic square.

A new, light-filled glazed entrance arcade extrudes out from the plinth of the 1970s Modernist building, introducing accessible routes and connection from Bristo Square to the upper levels. Internally, significant reconfiguration of the lower three floors allows light to penetrate deep into the plan, with the formation of group workshop areas, a student lounge-social space, and opportunity for expansion to meet future service demand with our proposal achieving a 55% increase in dedicated consultation rooms.

Wellbeing & Briefing

Health and wellbeing is now at the forefront of student life and the university experience. Creating a service-delivery environment that supports positive physical and mental health of both students and staff is hugely important and a key design driver.

The Wellbeing Centre creates the potential for up to 36 new one-to-one consultation rooms, a new Wellbeing Lounge (focused on positive social interaction rather than study) with a dedicated space for quiet reflection or contemplation and, crucially, a welcoming accessible route through the building via the new internal arcade along Bristo Square.

Page\Park has worked closely with key stakeholder groups throughout the design process, undertaking and recording briefing and consultation sessions. These ongoing collaborative workshops have been vital in understanding the varying and complex aspirations, needs and technical requirements of users, including:

  • Aspiration and vision for a wellbeing zone
  • Programmatic and functional requirements
  • Atmosphere and character
  • Furniture layout and selection

This ongoing, structured conversation not only engages users, but gives us much greater insight into their needs and logistical requirements.


The quality and character of the internal spaces, and their effect on well-being, were the catalyst for our interior design concept. A number of studies into the correlation between design and its impact on health have concluded that spaces designed for positive well-being can reduce stress, anxiety and encourage a feeling of wellness.

Subtle referencing of local settings creates a familiarity of place. A colour palette derived from the Cherry Blossom avenue at The Meadows, comprising soft tones and natural textures tempers the hard surfaces of the 1970s Brutalist building, resulting in a calming, stress-reducing environment.

The needs of specific building users were also taken into consideration, with colour used to create contrast and assist way-finding for visually impaired users; and furniture carefully selected to ensure a variety of settings to suit the broad spectrum of physical and mental needs across the student population.

Our interior design strategy was informed by the WELL Standard and the Okanagan charter principles, to create an holistic, coherent, cohesive building, that brings together a variety of users of different and sometimes complex needs, in a supporting, inclusive environment designed to promote positive well-being.


Project Info

University of Edinburgh
7 Bristo Square, Edinburgh, EH8 7AL
Internal Floor Area
September 2020
Project Manager
University of Edinburgh
Structural Engineer
M&E Engineer
Harley Haddow
Fire Engineer
Atelier Ten
Acoustic Consultant
Sandy Brown Associates LLP
Cost Consultant
Thomson Bethune
Keith Hunter