Biophilia is the love of living things, and because being around nature benefits our health and wellbeing, Biophilic Design is one of the newest trends in office space planning.
Biophilic Design is the practice of integrating elements of nature into our working environment. Research shows that humans have a deep sense of connection with nature. Bringing the outdoors to interior design, whether it is through exposure to green spaces, images or views of the natural environment, or nature-inspired design elements, Biophilic Design helps improve the well-being of people while at work which helps promote a sense of wellbeing and health.
Biophilic design is good for business. When employees are happy and healthy, that there is an increase in productivity and creativity; with a noticeable reduction in absenteeism and improved employee retention. Wellbeing in the built environment also benefit commercial real estate investors when tenants extend their leases; healthcare organizations notice a positive impact on the healing process of their patients, and educational institutes find improved learning experiences for their students.
With certification programs like the WELL® certification program , building owners and employers have assistance in the form of guidelines to implement, measure, and manage wellbeing initiatives, such as biophilia, into their workspaces.
The WELL Building guide states that after a 40 second micro break, subjects who see green roofs instead of concrete roofs demonstrate higher concentrations levels. There is a 6% increase in concentration levels for those who saw a green roof and an 8% drop in concentration levels for those who saw a concrete roof.
WELL Building Standard for biophilia includes a section for
- Nature Incorporation – How a project incorporates nature into the design, including environmental elements, lighting, and space layout.
- Pattern Incorporation – How patterns of nature are included in the project design
- Nature Interaction – What opportunities are available for human-nature interaction while in the building, and in areas that closely adjacent to the building (exterior).
Looking to remodel and bring an interior designer to help design your workspace, that is great! But you don’t need to move to a new office, renovate or hire an expert to experience the benefits of wellbeing through biophilic design at your workplace.
Wood, fire, earth, metal, and water are the five nature elements that are believed to be the fundamental elements of everything in the universe between which interactions occur.
Here is a list of some simple ideas on how to bring Biophilic Design and wellness into your workspace.
Always remember to consider, before implementing any new design changes, people with allergies and possible building or industry regulations.
- Indoor Plants
- Lounge or break out area seating near windows
- Open windows (air flow)
- Wall Art with landscape scenes or images from nature – Photography, Paintings, Posters
- Nature inspired sculptures – designed to mimic nature, or using natural materials
- Office furniture designed to represent items in nature. Add natural elements such as wool and wood and capitalize even further on the benefits of nature’s design.
- Accessorize with lighting made from natural wool.
- Natural wood flooring
- Floor tiles in the shape of natural stone
- Window Graphics – These can be photographs of nature or abstract shapes that may represent something like a waterfall. The hospital in Oakville, Ontario used window graphics on interior walls to promote a feeling of calm and tranquillity in various sections of the hospitals.
- Aromatherapy diffusers
- Plant green spaces around the building to view from inside. Greenery can also add to the sound buffering from outside noises.
- Create quiet spaces and walkways in green spaces adjacent to the building.
- Play soft background sounds of nature in reception areas
- Grow herbs in the lunchroom
- Bring your dogs to work! This doesn’t wok for every work environment, but many are including ‘man’s best friend’ into their daily work life.
- Plant a rooftop garden
- Build a climbing wall in the breakout area. Okay, this might be a major undertaking, but it would be great! It offers biophilic design AND the bonus of physical activity for employees.