BIOPHILIC DESIGN IN THE WORKPLACE – USE OF COLOUR, TEXTURE, MATERIALS AND PLANTING FOR WELL-BEING AND ACOUSTICS
What is Biophilia?
(according to a theory of the biologist E. O. Wilson) an innate and genetically determined affinity of human beings with the natural world
Why should organisations incorporate biophilic design into their physical environments?
Biophilic design has been shown to have economic, health, cultural and environmental benefits. Recent research from the field of neuroscience and endocrinology, show the crucial role that experiencing nature has for our well-being. Five to twenty minutes in a biophilic environment can trigger a positive restorative response. These reactions are swift, automatic and unconscious include:
- Decrease in blood pressure, heart rate and the stress hormone
- An increase in self-esteem and mood
- Enhanced cognitive function, concentration and memory
These biophilic restorative responses are based upon the nature-health relationship. These restorative responses are rapid, automatic and unconscious. Studies have
How can this (abstract) theory be applied and be relevant to office design & the workplace?
It is not just simply the presence of nature (planting), but fabrics, colours, textiles, textures and materials used within a scheme. The design team at Select Interiors embrace the visual connection with nature by incorporating not only interior planting / green walls but a ‘touchy feely’ approach to materials specified for a scheme.
A recent case study is an enquiry from the rapidly expanding Push Doctor Group Ltd. The company provides an online doctor consultation service that currently has over 7,000 GMC registered GPs available for patients to connect to via a secure online video. The company offers a range of health-related services and their new offices needed to reflect the company ethos and retain and recruit their growing workforce. Current plans for expansion are for new 4000 sft in central Manchester & a similar floor-plate in Birmingham. Our design strategy was to ensure as many workstations were orientated to maximise views towards the outdoors and natural light. We incorporated interior planting / green walls and desk top plants. We have specified an organic palette with wool mix fabrics, natural Marmoleum, bespoke waxed Oak screens and furniture. All the materials and finishes have a ‘feel’ quality, the waxed Oak and Marmoleum have an earthy scent from linseed oils and compressed peat, tactile and warm looking. We have mixed a selection of earthy colours to give a unique exciting visual vibrancy complimented by bespoke wall graphics and lamp lighting
Digital Mood Board for Push Doctor incorporating Biophilic design principles. Marmoleum 97% natural materials, wool mix fabrics, solid and veneered Oak from sustainable sources, LED lighting
Image of mood / finishes board for the proposed roll out for Push Doctor Ltd brand
A holistic nature inspired palette in context with the proposed greenery / planting and organic materials Oak, wool, Marmoleum and cork The scheme balances and layers a selection of complementary and contrasting tones, textures and natural materials
Three main elements of Biophilic design theory are incorporated within the scheme;
- Visual Connection with Nature. A view to elements of nature,
living systems and natural processes
Example; the interiors planting and desk top gardens and green wall boxes see illustrated on plan layout
- Biomorphic, patterns and textures and form associated with organic arrangements that exist in nature
Example; The carpet design mimics random natural forms dappled light and the textural Entropy designer fabrics for occasional seating see illustration from Mood Boards above
- Material Connection with Nature. Materials and elements from nature
Example; The flooring natural Marmoleum, Oak furniture and Cork walls as illustrated on the plan layout
Sketch design and development of scheme for Push Doctor by the Select Interiors Ltd team
The Interiors team as Select Interiors Ltd have strived to incorporate all the elements above by incorporating planting / green walls, textured and printed fabrics inspired by nature and incorporating organic materials. The space planning and meeting both formal and informal have glazed fronts or are open with either high backed booths for intimacy or ‘camp fire’ lounge ‘home from home’ styles seating with dropped pendants to create a flexible, fluid and harmonious working environment
Another example layout design for Push Dr Birmingham
What research is available to support the theory that Biophilic design benefits the workforce?
- A study in the Netherlands showed that every 10 per cent increase in exposure to green space translated into an improvement in health equivalent to being five years younger (de Vries et al 2003), with similar benefits found by studies in Canada (Villeneuve et al 2012) and Japan (Takano 2002)
- The proportion of green and open space is linked to self-reported levels of health and mental health (Barton and Pretty 2010) for all ages and socio-economic groups (Maas 2006), through improving companionship, a sense of identity and belonging (Pinder et al 2009) and happiness (White et al 2013)
- Roe et al (2013) show that high salivary cortisol levels (a stress marker) are related to levels of lower green space
There is more specific research relating to office greenspace:
- Dr Chris Knight from Exeter University concluded that employees were 15% more productive when “lean” workplaces are filled with just a few houseplants, as employees who actively engage with their surroundings are better workers. http://www.exeter.ac.uk/news/featurednews/title_409094_en.html
- Improved office air quality makes you cleverer too! https://inleaf.co.uk/harvard-research-improved-office-air-quality-smarter/
It’s important to note that biophilic design has wider benefits than the purely aesthetic. Ultimately the fundamental driver for businesses are the overall gains in productivity which will repay the investment. Even the simplest of interventions can have economic benefits, there are recorded examples of biophilic interventions having a near 300% return on the outlay.
Other benefits include acoustics, when soundwaves strike a flat surface such as masonry, marble or plasterboard, they are reflected uniformly and in a straight line. Planting and greenery diffuse the sound waves breaking up the uniformity and concentration of the frequencies and scattering them evenly around a room’s area. As plants and shrubbery are naturally uneven, and when sound waves hit their surface, they are reflected around any given space more evenly, reducing echoes and the intensity of sound.
The use of green in office design, its links to nature often seen as a response to the ever-growing role of technology in the workplace. Also, the increasing use of pastel colours is a response to the ‘homely’ office trend
The example below of a design and fit out in Barcelona impressed our team as it pairs the green link with the ‘homely’ office trend. The scheme designed by Legranja Design Studio based in Pampalona in Spain. The design team at Select Interiors Ltd liked the quote below from Spanish practice Lagranja’s MD
‘’If it resembles an office we’ve utterly failed’’.
Legranja Design Studio – Pampalona
See the image below of the scheme for start-up Typeform that literally marries the green link with nature and ‘homely’ office concepts
Office design above Typeform an expanding start-up company in Barcelona
People will always have different reactions to colours, so using a good variety and contrast of colour, to refresh and stimulate staff, is perhaps the most effective approach in combination with well thought out interior planting as just an extension of good design.
A few examples of before and after images illustrating various recent schemes completed by the Select Interiors Ltd team.
Finished project image above.
Before images of a conversion of Warehouse to offices and showroom for international fashion brand Baordmans in Trafford Park
Before images of 5th Floor, Tower 12, Spinnigfields an office design and fit out by Select Interiors Manchester Ltd for Strategic People
After images, scope of works included full Cat B fit out, design, space planning, electrical, data, AV screens, joinery, decoration, flooring, graphics, furniture and storage. Lead time 4 weeks from initial meeting to completion
After images of project in Gateshead for an international property group.Scope of works included full design and drawings package including 3D walk through, electrical, lighting, data, bespoke joinery, plumbing / washroom facilities, refurbishment of Maple flooring, partitioning, Aluminim shop front, bespoke graphics and decoration
Before images of showroom for the North’s answer Osborne & Little Clarke & Clarke.
The upmarket manufacturer awarded Select Interiors Manchester Shopfitters the project which was completed in 4 weeks from order to completion. The scheme was designed by internationaly recognised design practire Judge Gill. Scope of works included fully bespoke metalwork display units, bespoke joiney, decoration, electrcal and bespoke LED lighting
It is one of the biggest questions for all UK businesses, how can companies make their office somewhere that attracts and retains rather than dissuades staff? Tech companies are leading the way but companies from all sectors like GBM (Sync), Boardmans, Push Doctor, Strategic People, Biz Spaces and Clarke & Clarke are investing in their working environment. The benefits this brings can often be difficult to measure. Select Interiors Ltd Manchester Office Fitters will unlock the potential of the space with creative and cost-effective options for companies looking to move or refurbish.
Other recent news;
Select Interiors are near completion on a public space design and refurbishment for the dynamic and expanding Cert Properties and Chris Hosty Architects at Royal Mills in the newly trendy Ancoats
Select Interiors have been awarded and design and fit out of a new showspace for uber cool developers Capital & Centric for a Marketing Suite for their new Crusader Mills scheme in Ancoats
Select Interiors have just completed the design and fit out of 6 new Rest Facilities for Metrolink at Deansgate, Piccadilly, Ashton, Oldham and Media City
We at Select Interiors Manchester know It makes sense to create office environments that not only make the most efficient use of space but that incorporate a sense of fun and unique bespoke elements to every scheme
Talk to the experts about how an engaging fit out can improve productivity and wellbeing to help attract & retain motivated staff call the Select Interiors design team on 0161 445 4040