Guest blog: Biophilic design as part of your wellbeing strategy

10 December 2020. Features.

Article by Katie Le Chevalier, Business Development Manager, Planteria Group 

 

Personally, when I think of great office design, I think of spaces that inspire. The workplace should be impressive and attractive, reflecting the brand and company culture. It should also ‘work for’ the people who use it.


Good design starts with a ‘people-centric’ approach. After all, you are designing a space for people to perform in and therefore it needs to be a holistic approach. In their recent “Office of the Future” report, Peldon Rose’s own head of design, Russell Glover, said – ‘Employee wellbeing and company culture have increasingly become an integral part of office design’.


Some questions you may ask when considering if the workplace works for you; Is it practical and comfortable? Does it encourage collaboration and have enough space for holding team meetings, and informal conversations? Does it boost productivity, attract talent and support wellbeing?

 

Biophilic design - What is it and why is it important?

The word biophilia means a love of living things –‘bio’ meaning life or living things and ‘philia’ meaning the love of. As humans we have an innate need to be connected to nature. Imagine for a moment how you feel when you are sitting in a garden, walking in a park, or looking at a sunrise, or sunset.


Using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to analyse brain region activity when viewing landscapes, a study was done by Science Direct that measured neural activity as a response to a variety of pictures of different settings. Researchers found that subjects who were shown images of nature vs images of built environments devoid of nature, showed significantly increased fMRI activity in a part of the brain associated with pleasure. So, we know that nature positively impacts our emotional and mental state.


As Brits, we spend more than 90% of our time indoors, this means that many of us are not getting the nature fix we need and that is why it is so important to include biophilic design into our workspaces, the place we are spending most of our time.

Biophilic design takes into consideration all the natural elements of daylight, plants, views from windows out to gardens, or terraces, water features and even animals - like office pets, will all help improve mood and have a positive effect.

 

The three pillar concept

There are 3 Pillar concepts to biophilia-based design:


Nature in The Space refers to the incorporation of plants, water features and animals into the built environment. This is the easiest way to incorporate biophilia into a space and can be done at any stage including retro-fitting and is also relatively inexpensive. Clever interior designers blend planting with furnishings and make a feature of them. Plants can be incorporated into racking systems, with other storage, so that they multi-task as room dividers breaking up open plan areas and creating privacy. Locker and cabinet tops can double as planting troughs. Plants can also be hung from ceilings and walls leaving floor space free for people.


Natural Analogues is one degree removed from true nature, think of materials which evoke nature, artwork depicting nature, a naturally inspired colour palette, wood grain and natural materials such as stone or slate, biomorphic forms and artificial planting would all fall into this category.


The third pillar is Nature of the Space and refers to the different spatial configurations we know humans respond well to and have a preference for. One of the most compelling being a ‘savannah view’ a wide-open vista of a natural setting.

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