21 May 2024

Thomas Heatherwick launches Humanise tour in three cities calling for end to soulless buildings

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Thomas Heatherwick, one of Britain’s leading designers and author of Humanise: A Maker’s Guide to Building our World, will launch a three-city UK tour calling for an end to soulless boring buildings. It begins with a week of events in Leeds and at the Hay Festival Hay-on-Wye and Charleston Literature Festivals from 21st-24th May.

The 10-year Humanise campaign, which launched in October 2023, demands that we put human emotion back at the heart of building design, to improve our health, restore our happiness, and save the planet.

It draws on evidence from the world’s leading psychologists and neuroscientists which reveals how boring buildings impact on our wellbeing, increasing levels of cortisol – the stress hormone – and loneliness. Academics have also found that visually complex buildings and urban “scenicness” play a significant role in restoring mental health.

This science chimes directly with public opinion. Research show that 76% of people across the UK believe that the way buildings look has an impact on their mental health and 60% agreed that walking around an area with boring buildings affects how they feel. Respondents also valued buildings that foster community and reflect our social values.

The tour will begin with a special event in Leeds during the UK’s largest property industry conference, UKREiiF 2024 – The UK’s Real Estate Investment and Infrastructure Forum. BBC Yorkshire’s Sabbiyah Pervez will host Thomas and guest speakers addressing professionals from local government and the property, design and social sectors sparking an industry-wide conversation about the concerns and values at the heart of the Humanise campaign.

On 23rd May Thomas will be joining one of the biggest celebrations of books and writers in the UK at the Hay Festival Hay-on-Wye, when he will be speaking to tech entrepreneur and creative leader, Suhair Khan. In conversation with culture writer Nancy Durrant, Thomas will complete the tour on Friday 24th May at Charleston Festival in Sussex, to discuss how he is fighting the epidemic of boringness and celebrating the moments when form and function meet in surprising ways that prioritise human emotion.

Photo: David Cliff