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how to bring biophilic design into offices

in biophilic how to

Offices and workplaces are not always among the best designed spaces. In fact, they often feel stressful, cold and sterile (words that have actually been used by workers to describe their workplace).

In the office, people should be productive, concentrated, and creative; definitely not an easy task in a stressful, cold and sterile space.

Let’s look into offices through the lenses of biophilic design, exploring how workplaces can become welcoming, inspiring, and just more pleasant to be in.

rich spaces

When thinking about office furniture and design, one commonly pictures simple lines and flat surfaces. This may result (and unfortunately often does result) in dull and uninteresting spaces that end up feeling cold and sterile.

A biophilic approach to office design will incorporate natural materials and colours, rich textures, and living plants. It will include more organic forms while seeking to connect to local identities.

Light and ventilation are also crucial topics. Offices would become much healthier spaces by letting more natural light in, allowing more views to the outdoors, using operable windows to get some fresh air in, and crafting indoor-outdoor spaces to invite more outdoor time. Artificial lighting can also be designed with health in mind, mimicking the change in natural light that’s so precious for human wellbeing (these systems are collectively named Human Centric Lighting).

Biophilic workplace with lush vegetation, organic shapes and refuge areas.
Credit: NBBJ - Ph: Sean Airhart
Biophilic lounge area with hanging chairs, organic shapes and greenery.
Credit: DWP

collaboration and concentration

One of the biggest shifts that’s happened in office design in recent decades has been the open-plan concept. Developed to increase collaboration, it has actually resulted in constantly noisy spaces where it’s hard to concentrate. Noise and the difficulty to concentrate become elements of constant stress during working hours, but mindful design can help.

Collaboration and concentration are both equally important, and they deserve dedicated and specially conceived spaces.
Spaces for collaboration will be wider prospect-inspired areas, able to accommodate groups and conducive to genuine exchange. Spaces for concentration will be smaller refuge-inspired areas, fitting just one person or a few more and aimed at focus work. They will be somehow separated from the rest of the space, and silent.

Biophilic office space with curve-form desks and plants draping down.
Credit: DWA Design Studio - Ph: anooi studio
Biophilic inidividual working areas nestled in an organically-flowing space with plants and plenty of natural light.
Credit: Muxin - Ph: Zhang Daqi

rest and regeneration

The workday needs to be broken up by breaks and recuperation moments.

Common spaces such as cafeterias and lounge areas are usually the spaces devoted to breaks and are ideal for interaction. Designing comfortable common spaces will encourage better interaction, a precious driver for idea generation, out-of-the-box thinking and exchange.

On top of communal areas, introducing individual regeneration pods would create spaces to head to when in need of a silent calm moment. A moment to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of the office and come back refreshed and recharged. This is an inclusive design choice that takes into account the fact that not everyone has the same way of recharging and some people (such as introverts) will highly appreciate silent lonely moments.

Office area immersed in plants.
Credit: Cox Architecture - Ph: Toby Scott
Bright office lounge area with a tree incorporated in the middle of the room.
Credit: Ditt Officemakers - Ph: Sabine Franke, Marjolein Thijse

All in all, a biophilic office is designed for people. It considers what people need in order to feel (hence work) well. And it accounts for individual preferences, crafting a variety of different spaces. A biophilic office is a comfortable and enjoyable space where it will be much easier to concentrate and create.

find more biophilic office inspiration in anooi visual library →

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