Humans have an inherent need to stay amidst nature, hence biophilic office design
With the advent of work cultures in the last century, people have grown distant from this inherent need and Biophilic office design plays around this very need gap.
What is Biophilic Design and why is it trending?
The need it appeals to is simple – man’s need to be closer to his roots, which are in the middle of natural habitat.
Now, as therapeutic as it may seem, it can be heavily counterproductive to have an office in the middle of the jungle – due to obvious reasons! So, what do you do? If your office can’t go to nature, bring nature to your office.
The key principles of Biophilic office design are simple – to create a greater sense of affiliation with nature, introduce several natural and natural-seeming elements. This results in greater productivity over the longer run, since the employees feel more secure and optimistic.
The increased productivity levels & decreased fatigue levels in Singapore & Oslo have given a boost to Biophilic office design since they were early adopters of the concept.
How can you build on it?
There can be a directly natural experience or an indirectly natural experience. Depending on what you want to achieve and the budget you carry, you can take up any of the routes:
1. Direct Experience: Use natural elements in their natural form
- Light: This is perhaps the most important element in the entire concept of Biophilic design.
Natural light gives a sense of inherent optimism and is the most relatable symbol of nature.
Natural light can be accessible to the majority of the offices. An easy way to access this can be large windows that allow passage of light.
If that does not work out, employees can have access to a sky lounge of sorts, where they can sit and work temporarily under shades, but surrounded by natural light.
- Air: While passage of air in the middle of an office in the metropolitan area might not be the best idea, with the help of air purifiers, this can be achieved. The natural flow of air gives a sense of freedom and connectedness to the employees.
- Plantations: An easy way to connect with nature is by having shrub plantations within the office.
While these may require special attention in the long run, they naturally increase the oxygen levels in the rooms and provide a source of freshness in an otherwise mundane corporate setup.
- Water: Major cities were developed around water and that makes this one of the most crucial elements in the Biophilic design concept. Buddhism has descriptions of the water as an assisting element for meditation and wellbeing. Have a small waterfall in the office or go for an aquarium.
2. Indirect Experience: Use elements that seem natural or induce the feeling of being amid nature.
- Natural Materials: Using natural materials such as wood, timber and other similar elements also gives a sense of natural connectedness. Green office furniture is both sustainable for the long run and has an impact on the productivity levels of employees.
- Natural Shapes: Using natural shapes such as circles and incorporation of fractals can also result in a feeling of natural connectedness, thereby putting the principles of Biophilic design to use.
- Simulation of Light & Air: For some offices, it is practically impossible to have natural light and air round the clock. In such scenarios, simulations of natural light and air can induce the effect of affiliation with nature. Use in-room fresheners and adjust lighting levels to meet the natural brightness standards.
At its surface, Biophilic office design may seem yet another expensive design concept.
That said, evidence has started showing up that in the long run – the productivity bump it gives, will far outweigh the short-term costs it carries.