The Biophilia Benefit – Improving the Workplace Naturally

Elly Deakin Biophilic design, Community, Healthy spaces

Biophilia is an upcoming science and style, which is being interpreted and applied to design in many sophisticated ways. The design approach involves putting human needs at the forefront of the built environment. Each of the following master plans (some of which are not built yet) have been designed for large scale corporations, with an emphasis on improving employees’ productivity, motivation, focus and creativity. All of the buildings are fabricated from scratch, rather than retro-fitting existing buildings, which means that all design principles have been consciously considered from stage one, in order to achieve a certain ethos within the workplace.

The Biophilic design principles as seen below demonstrate the emphasis on well-being within the workplace. Despite the large scale of these interventions, many of the principles mentioned below can be applied to smaller working environments and will have a positive impact on its inhabitants.

Apple’s campus, California

Foster + Partner’s design team outlined the main priorities for the campus:

-To create an iconic 21st century office campus

-To maximise green space and to provide an expansive outdoor area for employees to enjoy

-To exceed economic, social and environmental sustainability goals through integrated design

The vast, circular campus structure will contain large glass panelling, which allows natural light to flood the interior spaces. Natural light is a key Biophilic design principle that has the ability to make the employee feel energised, as well as boosting their concentration.

The windows will also give employees relaxing views onto nature – allowing them to always have glimpses of greenery in the periphery vision. The underground car park on site has allowed for 6,000 trees to be planted, which will create an expansive space for employees to meander through, while exposing them to fresh air on their breaks.

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Apple’s Campus 2, Cupertino, California, USA

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Recently opened, the “world’s largest open-plan office” in the world, houses 2,800 employees to encourage collaboration within the workplace. Designed by Frank Gehry, the vast open-plan offices include many Biophilic design principles, which aim to boost the employees’ well-being, productivity and motivation:

-Vibrant colours and natural materials

-Recuperative spaces for employees to retreat to

-Textured surfaces and furniture to stimulate all senses

-A nine-acre roof top space to give employees easy access to nature

-Vast double height windows that create natural lit spaces and give employees views onto nature

-Intriguing vistas that create a strong sense of prospect for the employees

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Amazon HQ in Seattle

The highlight of this design proposal, for us, is the ‘Eden Project’ stylised domes which will act as a focal point to the “neighbourhood” sized intervention. The three transparent, adjoining structures will house four floors of flexible, open-planned work space and feature a variety of trees and plants. The architects, NBBJ state that “The generative idea is that a plant-rich environment has many positive qualities that are not often found in a typical office setting”

We believe it is important to incorporate spaces like these to help strengthen our connection with nature, which has largely been suppressed by urbanisation and technological advancement.

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Do these office spaces appeal to you? What Biophilic principles could you apply to your own working environment to boost your well-being? Please do get in contact and find out how we can create spaces that will quite literally grow with you.