Health & Wellbeing Hub and Housing at Ebbsfleet

This project built on SWA’s previous work carried out at Ebbsfleet Garden City. We were appointed to design a Health and Wellbeing Hub (HWbH) – a new form of community-focused healthy living centre based on the model of the Bromley-by-Bow Centre in Poplar, with integrated inter-generational and specialist housing.

The project aimed to address people’s health and social problems primarily through facilitating social prescribing. The building’s site forms a prominent element of the Outline Masterplan (by Allies & Morrison) for the future town centre, which aims to become a healthy place to live, work and play.

Client: Ebbsfleet Development Corporation
Construction Value: Undisclosed
Location: Ebbsfleet

Location plan showing the site for the HWbH within Ebbsfleet’s new centre
The Brief

The project had three elements:

1. An extensive stakeholder engagement exercise, verifying findings from previous projects, to develop and confirm the brief

2. A collaborative design process culminating in the concept design of the HWbH and housing

3. An integral and parallel study into funding and delivery options for set of building.

Left: Allies & Morrison Location plan showing the site for the HWbH within the Health, Education & Innovation Quarter (HEIQ) / Right: The Health & Wellbeing Hub at the nexus of routes
Axonometric of the complex in context looking from the west

The project entailed engaging with Ebbsfleet Development Corporation’s staff, the local NHS Trust, the Regional GP Network and representatives of the boroughs of Dartford and Gravesham which make up the Garden City. In addition, a key task was to engage local and regional businesses, charities, faith groups and not-for-profits that offer a spectrum of services and community activity (childcare, arts, crafts, café, gardening, food preparation, theatre, dance, fitness, yoga, pilates and so forth) to assess their appetite to offer services from the proposed building.

We talked to social services addressing needs such as mental health, drug and alcohol dependency counselling, homelessness and financial advice, housing services and other therapies. In total, working closely with Bromley by Bow Centre, SWA’s team engaged with over 40 different groups and individuals, held workshops and orchestrated an event at the Christmas Fayre to engage residents in the neighbourhood. This gave us a 360 degree picture of scale of need and service provision across the north Kent area

Community engagement at Castle Hill winter market
An interactive model tool for mapping types of space the community wanted to see and the relationship between these spaces
Results from our engagement surveys: public preference for local services & associated amenities
Results from our engagement surveys: public preference for most popular activities
Regional, city-wide and local impact
Diagram indicating spaces within the HWbH with local, city-wide and regional reach

The HWbH provides facilities across a range of scales, operating as a local centre (Assembly Room, gardens, nursery, café and shops), a civic space (teaching spaces, co-working spaces, therapy rooms, gym, GPs) while attracting people from the North Kent region and beyond to unique provision such as the auditorium, rooftop restaurant and the fresh food market.

Balancing clinical and shared community space

In addition to community-focused facilities, the Health & Wellbeing Hub proposed conventional medical spaces: Primary Care (GPs), Outpatients, Urgent Care and Maternity. We engaged with a range of medical specialists, managers and practitioners to determine the types of spaces needed and their relationships, addressing issues such as accessibility & privacy.


We coordinated this with flexible, non-clinical shared spaces that would work within the current model of care while anticipating the move toward a new model in which the lines between life-long health and self-care are blurred and where, in future, each of us has responsibility for our own health and wellbeing.

Co-location: diagram highlighting division of uses within the building
Proposed Sections highlighting housing alongside health & wellbeing offer
Public Realm

SWA worked on a site on the southern boundary within Allies & Morrison’s masterplan, coordinating the site-wide public realm with the building proposals.

Collaborating landscape architect Farrer Huxley developed the design for the public square as well as the gardens within the complex, creating therapeutic settings for wellbeing, biodiversity and public events.

Site plan, focused on central green plaza
Axonometric of the complex and public realm in context
Central plaza vista, towards the HWbH and inter-generational housing towers
Concept illustration showing how the inter-generational housing meets the public realm

The proposed housing is fully-integrated with the HWbH. The intergenerational housing comprises two towers of different heights, accessed both from the street and the HWbH.

Collaborating with Cottrell & Vermeulen Architecture to develop the brief for a variety of housing types, we drew on our knowledge of older people’s housing and consulted a range of housing experts and delivery partners.

Location of housing types within the full building complex

We designed two additional housing types: keyworker apartments for medical staff at roof top level and a range of supported living flats for short stays for those in need of temporary assistance in daily life.

This encompasses people moving in and out of hospital, people recovering from dependencies, the frail elderly and those with mental health conditions.

Plans of key levels in the intergenerational housing
Long section showing concept of health and wellbeing co-locating with specialist housing