Why Biophilic Design in the workplace

By Georgina Gardner, Interior Designer

What is Biophilic design?

At the beginning of the year,  our design team attended a workshop by Oliver Heath on Biophilic design in the workplace. Oliver is an industry recognised expert in the field of sustainable architectural and interior design and a pioneer of Biophilic design. This event was hosted by Shuffle which sees the collaboration between Interface, Orangebox, Muraspec and the University of South Wales. The aim of Shuffle is to connect students and professional design communities within Cardiff and its surrounding areas by hosting regular networking and learning workshops, such as this one focusing on Biophilic design. 

In its purest sense, Biophilia simply means ‘the love of nature’. Biophilic design is the aim to reconnect humans with their instinctive love of nature. To begin the workshop Oliver asked us all to come up with a list of places that make us feel great. Unsurprisingly natural environments such as the beach, forests and mountains were mentioned time and time again however Ribble Cycles surveyed more than 1,000 adults in Britain finding the average person spent 92% of their time indoors on a weekly basis. If as humans we chose to spend our free time amongst nature where we feel happiest, then it makes sense that wherever possible natural elements should be included within our built environment not only to make us feel happier but to make us healthier too. 

So why is Biophilic design in the workplace beneficial? Incorporating direct or indirect elements of nature into the built environment has been proven through research to make people healthier. For example, it reduces stress, blood pressure levels and heart rate. It has also been proven that including elements of Biophilic design within a workplace environment can increase productivity, creativity and self-reported rates of well-being.

The 14 principles of Biophillic design:

We wanted to apply these principles to one of our own workplace designs so we will analyse this bespoke meeting hub in the new Welsh Power HQ in central Cardiff and see how many of the principles we achieved.

 

1 & 8. Visual connection with nature

Biomorphic forms and patterns. We installed a real feature moss wall which has become the focal point of the office. This brings colour and texture to the space and also has great acoustic properties.

2. Non-Visual connection to nature

The moss wall is made of real moss providing a tactile experience.

7. Connection to natural systems

This building has windows on each side and one of the best views of Cardiff. This allows the occupants to look out over Bute Park and see the seasons changing.

9 & 10. Material connection with nature / Complexity and Order

 The central structure is made of Walnut faced timber. The design is inspired by the many layers of plant matter being compressed underground to form coal. This stacked design is also featured in the glass manifestation. The main carpet used throughout the office is Interface Composure. This range is inspired by natural rock formations. We have uses it alongside Human Nature Kiwi which replicates grass.

12. Refuge

The central meeting zone acts as a refuge in the open plan office. It provides a comfortable, quiet space within the open environment. The office also includes two small private work rooms hidden behind the moss walls.

13. Mystery

The central hub restricts the clear view of the office therefore creating a sense of mystery. 

 If you would like to implement these principles into your work space here are some ways;

  • Living walls
  • Water features or fish tanks
  • Feature carpets or wall finishes that mimic natural colours and textures

Simpler options:

  • Add plants to the environment
  • Access to fresh air
  • Relocate your workspace to be near a window to allow light

You can also read more about how we recently encorporated biophilia into our design of the new Savills' Welsh HQ here. 

If you are interested in introducing biophilia into your workplace, get in touch today and we can help! Call us on 02920 368585 or email info@officeimageltd.co.uk and we will be happy to help!

 Sources

http://www.oliverheath.com/biophilic-design-connecting-nature-improve-health-well/

https://www.terrapinbrightgreen.com/

http://www.interface.com/EU/en-GB/homepage

http://road.cc/content/news/217728-brits-spend-92-all-their-time-indoors

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