This month’s high performing buildings roundup looks at the enduring workplace trend of biophilic offices.
Biophilia is the human drive to connect with nature and other living things. It was coined by philosopher Erich Fromm in 1964, and later popularised by Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson. Wilson argues that a desire towards natural objects is rooted in our biology.
Bill Browning, Environmental Strategist and Founding Partner of Terrapin Bright Green attributes our need for a closeness to nature to the very origins of the human species: “As a species we evolved on the savannas of Africa, today we are spread across the planet and more than half the population lives in urban areas. Here in the US, we spend more than 90 per cent of our lives inside buildings. So biophilic design is focused on bringing experiences of nature to us in the built environment; this can include living plants, water, daylight, natural materials, fractal patterns, and spaces that support prospect views or provide a refuge condition.”
Whilst plants and access to nature are a central focus of the concept, biophilic design also includes things like landscape features, natural lighting and elements that appeal to smell, touch, and other sensory systems
By building this principle into office design strategy, commercial real estate owners and employers hope to provide a unique workplace atmosphere with employee wellbeing at its core, particularly since hybrid working has taken over the agenda.
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Poetizer’s Artificial Garden of Eden
A striking example of how indoor plants can be the focus of a room, Poetizer’s indoor jungle is intended to stimulate creative thinking.
Poetizer is a social network for poetry lovers, and its 150 sqm office in Prague aims to inspire focused work, facilitate informal gatherings, and offer a space for streaming poetry readings.
Designed by Johana Sedláčková Vamberská and Tomáš Císař, the focus of the story of the offices is the greenhouse space - a wild jungle in a centrally locate greenhouse. The skeleton of the greenhouse grows 171 plants, featuring over 100 species.
The main room also houses individual workstations, which are arranged into two islands - this is where daily work and immediate communication take place. This space is connected to the kitchen and a balcony overlooking Narodni street.
Picture: a photograph of the interior of Poetizer's greenhouse, showing comfortable seating and plants hanging from the walls and ceiling. Image Credit: BoysPlayNice
One Heddon Street
The Crown Estate’s first dedicated co-working and flexible office space, One Heddon Street, is situated at the heart of London’s West End.
One Heddon Street has been built with the wellbeing of its members in mind, with features such as adjustable sit-stand desks, internal planting and a living wall, extensive use of natural light, and filtered water throughout, to support the health of all those using the space.
According to Knight Frank, the fresh air supply rate to the office is 50 per cent above the minimum recommended level, and employees have remote control of the temperature around their desks.
Picture: a photograph of some long bench-style seating surrounded by plants and a living wall. Image Credit: The Crown Estate
Uncommon, Liverpool Street
Located next door to Liverpool Street station, Uncommon is another co-working space which is set up to reduce stress. Desk spaces feature curved lines with small, soothing lamps and the stairwells are scented with lemongrass. There is even an in-house nutritionist to advise on healthy lunch choices.
There’s also a roof terrace split across two levels to allow workers access to outdoor space and fresh air. Those looking for a place to unwind from work can visit the Well Studio, with its bespoke walnut-clad meditation pods.
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