Biophilia & Wellness In An Office Environment

Biophilia is our inherent human connection to the natural world in all forms and living systems and the power of biophilic design in the workplace is on an ever-increasing upward curve.

With good reason, as by 2050, 66% of the developed world will be urbanised. We spend an estimated 11 hours a day using and interacting with technology and up to 93% of our time indoors. Therefore, the fast-paced living environment that we inhabit has us searching for more connections with the simpler things in life. That deep-rooted human connection with nature has an undeniable biological restorative effect. Think forest walks, the sound of ocean waves crashing on the shore. They all have an undeniable healing, calming, restorative effect.

Businesses can reduce the negative impacts of sterile workplaces and enhance their environments by integrating a variety of biophilic features such as green walls, plants, natural materials – wood, stone etc.

Biophilic designed buildings incorporate aspects such as  natural lighting and ventilation, natural landscape features and other elements to create a more productive and healthier environment for people.

Take the centerpiece of the Seattle Amazon headquarters – The Spheres for example. A multi-story, glass-enclosed workplace containing tens of thousands of plants and trees from around the world. Exposure to nature is proven to put people at ease and help them think more creatively.

Not every space can be designed to incorporate all the principles of biophilic design, but there are often many contributory elements that will collectively enhance the interior and the wellbeing of those within it. Look to nature for your inspiration to re-vitalise your workspace. Natural light, vegetation, living walls, natural textures and materials and nature views will provide a positive impact.

Clever use of light and shadow to mimic the lighting conditions or circadian processes occurring in nature are another element to potentially introduce to your workspace. Think picture windows looking out to green spaces, or maximising roof lights and skylights. Or perhaps the addition of balconies and mezzanine levels that expand the sense of light and space.

Using materials and textures in design that distinctly reflect the natural environment is another element of biophilic design that is easily introduced to the workspace. Interface explore the power of biophilic inspired designs through their collections which directly mimic natural surfaces and textures. Incorporating natural stone or wood in either sculptural decoration or bespoke joinery – think reception desks or bespoke joinery structures that will also tap in to biophilic design.

An acoustic pod within an open-plan office provides a refuge to concentrate away from noise or stimuli while maintaining a view of the world around it. This ties into the Refuge pattern, which is to look out over your surroundings but in a protected position from a distance. Our supplier JDD has created beautiful pods that cocoon the individual or larger versions to allow multiple seating.  Friends of Wilson’s sliding hanging screens are another superb product to allow that refuge pattern to thrive whilst also tapping into the natural palette with greens and blues and ochres.

Biophilic design can reduce stress, improve cognitive function and creativity, improve our well-being and expedite healing. Experiencing nature elicits such a rapid restorative response and it is for this reason that design which connects us with nature – biophilic design – is essential for providing people with the opportunities to live and work in healthy spaces thus generating less stress and increasing general wellness.

More about the author Michelle Leyden 

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