The human need for biophilic design

Wellbeing, Design

Offices should inspire and motivate staff but also provide somewhere that allows us to escape from the traditional confines of the workplace. The way we work has evolved and the environments we choose to work in have shifted to be more communal and natural. Project Director, Steve Taylor shares his thoughts on why there is a human need for biophilic design in the workplace.

Biophilic design, and creating offices that inspire a sense of escape, freedom that you associate with a traditional office is vital to allow us to relax and breathe and nature is the best palate in the world to evoke those feelings and engaging the senses. Biophilic creates a desire to connect with nature and this touch and tactile moment helps us forget where we are and we are natural beings that need this reminder of the sensory power of nature to help us thrive and flourish.

This is the basic principle of biophilic design – facilitating great natural light, opening spaces and using nature in the form of plants (ideally real) but if our brain can recognise the use of nature, allows us to escape the more oppressive, slightly claustrophobic atmosphere of the office. Research has found that there is a direct correlation between employees’ wellbeing and mental health when given the opportunity to work in biophilic inspired surroundings.

The report by Human Spaces suggests that “there is also clear evidence directly linking biophilia with an organisation’s output” outlines that the staff mentality and productivity at work are affected by the physical environment of the workplace. This data shows that there are huge benefits behind using biophilic office design in terms of enhancing staff wellbeing.

It is an innate, primal connection that we have with nature and much like the animal kingdom (and we’ve all seen the various wildlife documentaries) we are aware of how animals respond to their environment and how behaviours are formed in a direct response to their environment. Our work with Interface, specifically on the Beautiful Thinking campaign looks at how biophilic design enhances workplaces and delivers award-winning designs for companies such as JustGiving.

Taking a lesson from office technology

Over the decades, technology has played a part in creating an over reliance on partitions and traditional desking but now we have capacity to more dynamic and unshackled from the desk. As we adapt our ways of working, our workplaces must evolve as well and match the new more relaxed, casual environments we are working in. Technology has become smaller and more agile, and this technology is allowing us to meet in more biophilic settings, parks and inspiring surroundings that mean we aren’t trapped in a cubicle (circa 1980).

So, just as we have adapted to using technology, and vice versa, we should be capitalising on this ability to adapt and reimagine our office environments, inspiring our offices and allowing them to blossom, literally, to show an absolute reflection of our day to day living.

This over reliance on technology can be damaging to our health and so we have created havens of retreat and respite in our offices to mimic a green pasture, an iceberg or an island oasis (and these spaces are purely people focused). The consuming nature of modern technology has created this yearning to reconnect with nature, through biophilic inspiration and it makes us question why we would want to confine and limit ourselves to an environment that doesn’t promote positive behaviours, productivity and happiness.

For more inspiration and ideas on biophilic design, get in touch with one of our team to discuss your project to see how we can help you.

Detail shot of brown terazzo worktop with brown leather seating

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