The wellbeing lead at Grimshaw is working to break down stigma over mental health
Associate and global wellbeing lead, Grimshaw – Part 1: 2011 Part 2: 2014
As global wellbeing lead, Grimshaw associate Georgia Collard-Watson has been instrumental in developing the practice’s health and wellbeing agenda across all its studios.
‘Her initiatives have been transformative in breaking down stigma and putting health and wellbeing at the heart of our projects and studio culture,’ says her referee, Grimshaw partner Neill McClements.
Collard-Watson joined the practice in 2014 and, in addition to her leadership on complex infrastructure and transport-led projects, has established Grimshaw’s health and wellbeing team, using her lived experiences of ulcerative colitis and its subsequent mental health impacts to help foster a culture of non-judgmental understanding and support.
Initiatives included Mind Blown, in which she and colleagues talked about their experiences of mental ill-health, driving positive change. She developed a global framework for wellbeing initiatives, and also championed Grimshaw’s A Day for Us in which all the practice’s studios closed for World Mental Health Day.
During the pandemic, Collard-Watson instigated a month-long initiative, calling each member of staff for one-to-one ‘are you OK?’ conversations. Beyond the practice, as part of the Architects Mental Wellbeing Forum, she led the development of the AMWF Covid-19 Support Toolkit.
Judges praised her particularly for talking about her own experiences in order to drive changes in attitudes to health and wellbeing. ‘Being willing to stand in front of your peers and talk about that to move the situation forward shows leadership and strength,’ said Selina Mason.
What piece of architecture or placemaking do you most admire and why?
As a Brightonian, being beside water imparts an uplifting, safe feeling to me, and having worked in London for the past eight years, the river path from Bankside to South Bank has become my second spiritual home. Generally, I believe placemaking and public realm is most successful when it’s accessible, activated, and alive.