As the summer draws to an end and we contemplate the darker, winter months ahead cloistered within our workplaces, many might yearn for the connection with nature and the outdoors they’ve enjoyed over their holidays and sunny weekends. Biophilic office design is one way we can achieve a re-connection with nature: a design principle that places nature at its centre and focuses on bringing the outside indoors.
What is biophilic design?
Biophilic designs feature a range of ideas based around the characteristics of the natural world. Some of the most common concepts include:
- Increasing the use of natural light and varying the type of light depending on the purpose of the space;
- Incorporating plants and trees in the office environment wherever possible – including being built into walls, on roof terraces in large planters or throughout internal landscaping;
- Using natural materials with a variety of textures, particularly wood, stone and slate;
- Introducing water features, wall fountains and fish tanks;
- Eroding the physical barriers between inside and outside using skylights, floor-to-ceiling windows and external balconies and terraces;
- Experimenting with natural shapes and forms, including curved lines and domes; and
- Utilizing earthy colors associated with nature.
How has biophilic design been incorporated into offices?
You may not be surprised to learn that some of the pioneers in this area are America’s tech giants. Perhaps the most prominent example of biophilic office design is Apple’s California HQ. The buildings circular “spaceship” design brings light into the office from every angle, is surrounded by a 9,000-tree woodland and features an orchard in the centre of the “loop”.