by Kara Raasch / photos courtesy of HOK
Biophilic design, or the idea of connecting people to nature through thoughtfully designed environments, has proven to have an impact on the health, well-being, and productivity of staff. With the much-buzzed-about unveiling of Amazon’s Spheres, this drive to bring the outdoors in is shaping office environments across country and right here in Kansas City.
Biophilic design can range from including greenery and vegetation in the form of plants and living walls to including water features, natural wood elements, organic textures, and increasing light and access to fresh air.
Another bonus of biophilic design? It’s critical toward promoting a culture of productivity. Recent research published by the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied found the connection between biophilic design and the ability to increase productivity and reduce employees missing work, impacting an organization’s bottom line. They also noted that workspaces with ample light and nature elements resulted in occupants’ self-proclaimed sense of well-being improving by more than 40 percent. Another 2015 study commissioned by Oliver Health and titled “The Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace” found that employees are 15 percent more productive when they work in a space with biophilic elements.
At American Century Investments’ Tower One, 6th-floor renovation, the company made the move from private offices to an airy and interconnected open office plan with biophilia and its benefits in mind. The renovation was designed to facilitate a cultural shift, increasing collaboration and flexibility for the investment management firm. To do so, the client and design team reconnected the interior space with nature in bold ways.
The reconfiguration of the floor allowed for an infusion of natural light, with sun penetrating to the center of the floor plate, while simultaneously increasing occupancy by 60 percent. A custom moss wall brings an organic element to the space, and represents the value the company places on work-life balance. Custom graphics are organic, reflecting the community and culture of the organization with micro and macro details derived from nature and the tree in the ACI brand mark. This subtle imagery reinforces connectivity throughout. The firm’s break room is filled with natural light, textures, and materials to create a healthy retreat for employees.
At Cargill Protein’s new headquarters in Wichita, biophilic design is incorporated and celebrated through plants and greenery throughout the expansive new space and vast access to natural light and outdoor spaces.
Are you wondering how you bring nature into your workplace and reap the rewards? There are some simple, cost-effective solutions that can begin to transform your personal or company’s office environment:
Plants – From potted plants to green walls, bringing in natural vegetation is a critical element for any space.
Graphics – Environmental graphics derived from nature can provide a connection point for people to the outdoors. These also have the benefit of creating aesthetically pleasing, layered environments that can incorporate pops of color and help with wayfinding within a space.
Water features – Simple water features can be cost-effective to add while bringing in the sights and sounds of nature.
Natural light – Reorienting your space to bring people closer to windows and natural light can have a dramatic impact on taking a space from drab and dreary to bright and airy.
The benefits of biohphilic design extend far beyond the aesthetic. Consider taking a note from American Century Investments’ book and incorporating natural elements to reduce stress, enhance connectedness, and increase productivity of any company’s most important asset – its people.
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