biophilic design in an office

Biophilic design is a concept that strives to incorporate nature into our homes, workplaces and community spaces. It embraces the connection between humans and nature by creating a harmonious space that is fulfilling yet still functional and efficient.

The awareness of biophilic design in the workplace is increasing. It comes as we acknowledge how prevalent mental health disorders and cardiovascular disease are in our western societies. The World Health Organisation predicts that these stress-related conditions will be the two biggest health problems by 2020.

The traditional designs of offices and other workplaces focus more on how cost-effective the floor space can be instead of how well people can exist in the space. Furthermore, the increase in technology-dependence and ‘screen-time’ and we lose our connection with nature for significant proportions of our lives.

Biophilic design puts the human experience and well-being at the centre of any design. It is based on the observed concept of biophilia.

What is biophilia?

Biophilia was first noted by psychoanalyst Erich Fromm in his 1973 book The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness. He described it as “the passionate love of life and of all that is alive”. The term was then popularised in the 1980s by the psychologist, Edward O Wilson, in his book, Biophilia (1984). Wilson proposed that humans innate desire to connect with nature is, in part, genetic. He observed how we were becoming disconnected from the natural world because of increases in urbanisation.

Examples of Biophilic Design

Perhaps the most famous examples of biophilic design are the creative playgrounds that global corporations like Google call ‘offices’. However, biophilic design is not limited to billion-dollar industries. Proponents of biophilic design include designers such as Oliver Heath who’s projects have included a garden school in Hackney, London.

biophilic design in an office

Google’s office in Dublin shows examples of biophilic design in the workplace.

biophilc design healthcare hospital

Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne has a large-scale aquarium in its atrium. Photograph: John Gollings

What is the WELL Building Standard?

The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) is a leader in the global wellness movement that focuses on the ‘design, operations and behaviours’ of buildings. The standard is a holistic approach to well-being and is based on seven core concepts:

  • Air – promote clean air and reduce in sources of indoor air pollution
  • Water – provide safe and clean water for various uses
  • Nourishment – encourage better eating habits and food culture
  • Light – protect the body’s circadian system and support good sleep quality
  • Fitness – integrate physical activity into everyday life and reduce sedentary behaviours
  • Comfort – distraction-free, productive and comfortable indoor environments
  • Mind – optimise cognitive and emotional health through design and technology

Any building can apply for the WELL certification. It is a fantastic tool, especially when used to improve the well-being of the building’s occupants.

What is Sick Building Syndrome (SBS)?

Sick building syndrome is a recognised medical condition relating to poor air quality in workplaces such as offices. The symptoms include headaches, dizziness and nausea as well as irration to the eyes, nose and throat. The majority of cases are considered to be linked to flaws in a building’s air conditioning, heating and ventilation. Contamination including microbial and chemical are also factors.

Because of these factors, addressing the main causes of SBS is likely to involve a serious overall of a building’s infrastructure. However, opening windows and giving the building a good clean are the first steps in addressing problems. The introduction of plants into the building will also help with poor air quality.

What can biophilic design do for you?

There are many studies that show that biophilic design can have a positive impact. Commercial, civic and residential buildings in addition to public spaces can benefit:

  • Biophilic workplaces show increases in worker well-being of up to 13% and in productivity of up to 8%.
  • Healthcare spaces see post-operative recovery rates reduce by 8.5% and a 22% reduction in the need for pain medication.
  • Customers are willing to pay up to 12% more for goods or services when a retail unit is situated in an area with vegetation and landscaping.
  • Urban spaces with greater access to nature have less crime by around 8%.
  • Guests staying in hotel rooms with views of nature including greenery or water are willing to pay 23% more than for rooms that don’t.
  • Concentration levels, rates of attendance and test results all increase in educational spaces with biophilic elements. The negative impacts of ADHD decrease.

In a 100% organic nutshell, biophilic design can have a positive impact in so many areas of our lives. Studies have shown that the simple act of adding plants to an office can have a positive measurable effect. The mental well-being of workers improves through reductions in stress, depression and anxiety.

Floresy design services are here to help you provide the right biophilic solution for your building. The addition of the colour green will create more relaxing and calm spaces for your workers.  Plants and greenery will help improve the customer experience for your guests and clients. Contact us here so we can get started today.

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