Vital Topics Installation – University of Manchester

Eren McEwen Biophilic design, colour, Education, Environmental events, Furniture


This week we were very excited to put together a multisensory, biophilic installation in the drum at University of Manchester for this year’s opening lecture of their Vital Topics series this year on Smart Cities.

Vital topics discusses a variety of global business issues with this preliminary event investigating ‘Smart Cities – Solutions for Tomorrows World’ focussing on potential infrastructure problems within our growing urban hubs. The event included a panel discussion, debating the possible impact of technology, communications, infrastructure, energy, sustainability and health and wellbeing on smart cities.

Biophilia (meaning ‘a love of nature’) is a topic central to the development of Smart Cities with a focus on the human centred side of sustainable design thinking. Working alongside flooring manufacturers Interface we created a space to highlight how improving the human connection to nature can create spaces that aid cognitive functioning, mental and physical recuperation whilst improving a sense of community and communication. Our partners Connection Furniture and I Want Plants were key to bringing this space to life.

The installation made use of biomimetic carpets (mimicking the patterns and textures found in nature), modular furniture to offer comfort and retreat, natural imagery and scents and of course lots of plants! The space was warm and inviting with sheltered spots in which to work or relax. The students immediately made themselves at home amongst the greenery, which was great to see!
We wanted to demonstrate that taking a human centred approach to workplace design and heightening our connection to the natural world can create tangible business advantages. A rise in productivity, creativity and wellbeing and a decrease in absenteeism and presenteeism can all be identified within offices incorporating biophilic design choices.

It was great to see so many people attending and taking part in the discussion on how buildings are becoming smarter, happier and healthier…..naturally.