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Biophilic design

So what is Biophilic Workplace Design and do you need it?

It’s a fancy name and a little hard to say, but biophilic design is popping up everywhere! Workplace interior design company Evoke Projects examines this popular design strategy.

What is biophilic design?

We know that nature sustains and supports our well-being, which leads to better physical and mental health. The term biophilia was popularised by Edward O. Wilson in the 1980s; it means “love of living things”. The increasing recognition that our health and well-being are connected to our environment saw biophilic design applied to workplace strategy with great success.

Some aspects of biophilic design appeal to the emotions (e.g. we associate nature with relaxation), while others are grounded in physical health (e.g. fresh air).

What benefits have workplaces seen from biophilia?

Studies have shown real measurable benefits.

  • Office design: productivity can be increased by 8% and rates of well-being increased by 13% through exposure to natural elements.
  • Healthcare spaces: post-operative rates of recovery reduced by 8.5%, while pain medication was reduced by 22%.
  • Retail: the presence of vegetation and landscaping has been found to increase average rental rates on retail spaces with customers indicating they were willing to pay 8-12% more for goods and services.1
  • In a call centre, a change in workstation angles for better views resulted in a 6% increase in call processing capacity.2
    Other workplace design studies have also shown reduced absenteeism and better staff attraction and retention.

Do you need biophilia?

Of course, every workplace is different, but the figures above show the potential improvements from biophilic design strategies for office-based businesses, healthcare spaces, retail outlets and call centres.

Ten ways to implement biophilic design in your workplace

  1. Gardening and work might seem an unusual combination but a communal herb garden or salad leaf pots will certainly be popular. Grab some mint leaves for the after work mojito!
  2. Improve air quality with an air filtration system, opening windows and natural plants. One plant for every ten metres is a good guide. Spider plants are low maintenance and look fantastic in pots or hanging baskets. Peace lilies are another easy office interior plant.
  3. Natural plants do more than absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. They evoke an emotional response because we associate them with being outside and enjoying leisure time. They are also visually appealing, which will be welcome in an office interior.
  4. If your staff listen to music at work, encourage them to spend time listening to natural sounds such as a babbling brook, bird song or raindrops. Sounds are very subjective, so headphones might work best for this.
  5. Artwork with pictures of animals, coastal scenery and rainforests are biophilic and can be very evocative.
  6. ncrease the opportunity for views and natural daylight exposure in your next office fit-out. Window blinds offer the flexibility to have light without glare at different times of day.
  7. Natural textures make such a difference to the workplace interior design. If the office refurbishment budget is tight, consider wood-effect flooring and faux stone tiles.
  8. Elements that remind people of nature, such as natural patterns and shapes, are biophilic. You could include a leaf pattern or cloud shapes in your wall coverings.
  9. Nature-resembling colours such as green, blue and brown positively impact employee well-being. A study showed that 67% of respondents felt happy when walking into bright office interiors, while calming colours are better for quiet or social areas.3
  10. Recuperation and relaxation make us feel close to nature. Provide breakout spaces within the office interior design so that people can have some downtime during the work day.

However you approach biophilic workplace design, try to do it in an authentic way. A few pot plants do not equal biophilic architecture. Focus on improving the connection between people and nature in the workplace design through a holistic approach to biophilia. Your staff will thank you, and you can look forward to the productivity benefits!

Evoke Projects can help you plan your next commercial fit-out or office refurbishment with biophilic design elements to improve well-being and productivity in your workplace. Please call our office design team on 1300 720 692.

  2. The Economics of Biophilia, a report authored by Terrapin Bright Green

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