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20. 6. 2022

Biophilic design: new trend in office space creation

People spend up to 90% of their time inside buildings. While at home they can adapt their environment to fit their preferences, at work they often have to operate in spaces with artificial lighting, use a range of electronic devices, and breathe air filtered through air-conditioning systems. All this has a negative effect on people’s health: especially their mental health. Biophilic design, which is rapidly becoming a big trend, can help avoid these problems; especially when designing and furnishing offices. It brings the work environment closer to nature, which has a beneficial effect on the psyche and overall health.


Green offices reduce stress and increase productivity


The positive impact of nature on our health has been confirmed in several global surveys. Research shows that people in a green environment are happier, feel more relaxed, and have lower stress levels. One such study, The Economics of Biophilia, found a reduction in heart rate and stress hormones by up to 15 % in people who inhabit and work in green spaces. Researchers also reported better concentration, mental endurance, and productivity, all of which demonstrably increased in interiors full of natural elements. According to the experiment, phone operators with a view of nature made far more calls than those who did not. In addition, they processed calls up to 7% faster. The fact that employees who work in a nature-adjacent/natural settings have up to 15% fewer absences also proves the green environment’s beneficial effect.


Another significant benefit is the ability of plants to reduce carbon dioxide levels, rid the air of harmful substances, produce oxygen through photosynthesis, reduce dust, and increase air humidity. All this helps improve concentration and overall health. According to a YouGov survey, indoor air can be up to five times more polluted than outdoor air. A green wall made of plants can also create effective sound insulation.


Plants, green walls, and aquariums


"There are countless ways to incorporate natural elements into the exterior or interior of an urban environment. With building exteriors, biophilic design is typically represented by parks or fountains and lakes. In the interior, there are natural elements such as green walls or individual houseplants, but also plenty of natural light or a view of nature and green spaces," says Lenka Macková, senior designer at Colliers. She adds that there is growing interest in this type of design, and projects are often very innovative. "In the past, we placed birch trunks in one client’s reception area. In terms of implementation, it was a bit of a challenge. However, in the end, we fulfilled the intended purpose: to bring a bit of true nature into an otherwise sterile office space. Water elements are also becoming more and more popular. For example, we recently designed a giant sea aquarium,” adds Lenka Macková. Water elements in the form of aquariums or fish ponds in atriums or foyers are also part of biophilic design. The latter often adheres to principles similar to those in the traditional Chinese philosophy of feng shui, according to which active, flowing water represents movement and life.