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Biophillic Design


Modern life in Britain is continually changing. As we continue to see an incline in rates of urbanisation, this appears to have had a number of detrimental societal effects. Businesses have fallen in favour minimalist designs, inhabitable large warehouses and office spaces in order to be able to store products and meet customer demands. As such, employees are forced to work dull and often uninspiring spaces. This appears to be something of a worsening problem as companies require employees to be more productive whilst, at the same time, neglecting their mental and physical well-being.

Is there a solution?

There is. And the solution is simple, cheap and effective.

Turn our sterile, dull, minimal working environments into abundant, thriving places to work.

Translating from Greek as a love of life or nature, Biophilia can be defined as humankind’s innate desire to connect with nature and the natural world.

Have you ever found yourself drawn to the crackling of a smoldering fire, captivated by a walk around a country park, or fearful of predators such as snakes and spiders? Well, that’s biophilia. Key to humankind’s ability to thrive is our fascination and dependence upon the natural world. Such fascinations have even been noted for hundreds and thousands of years by philosophers, poet’s, and scientists.

One of biophilia’s most prominent researchers, Stephen Kellert asserts: ‘modern society has become adversarial in its relationship to nature’. With the effects of urbanisation leading to a lack of biodiversity, an increase in chemical pollution, and decreased people’s productivity, nature has been used to solve these problems; this solution is called ‘Biophilic Design’.

Simply put, Biophilic Design is the attempt to integrate nature into urban spaces and, as a result, bring nature to the forefront of the human experience. Major companies such as Amazon, LinkedIn, Etsy, and Adobe have incorporated Biophilic Design with each, respectively, making their head offices lighter, earthlier, and greener spaces.

In practice, companies that have made biophilic design a reality have:

Made workspaces lighter and brighter

Incorporated plants into workspaces and artwork

Increased ventilation in workspaces

Increased the number of earthly tones

Examples of effective biophilic design

Amazon's Spheres

In 2013, Amazon decided to rebuild their headquarters in Seattle to create ‘The Spheres‘ a fully immersive experience for their workers. The project took 7 years and 600 people to build it, with 40,000 plants and 300 species included in it. They keep the environment at 22 degrees celcius and 60% humidity creating the most ideal environment for them to work in.

If the most successful company in the world sees the benefit and reward from implementing such efforts, why would you not follow suit?

Adobe's San Jose Headquarters

When HGA redesigned Adobe’s San Jose Headquarters, they even went as far as creating a different nature theme for each floor of the building – creating nature immersive environments with their implementation of biophilic design.

Each wall graphic or artwork installation directly ties to the nature theme of the floor, but in many instances also reference science and the innovation behind their products. Symbols from Adobe’s digital interface were integrated into printed artwork, adding moments of delight by merging images with Adobe’s design products.

What are benefits of biophilic design?

The perceived benefits of Biophilic Design have been researched extensively by scientists with their findings suggesting a number of benefits. As Timothy Beatley argues, the addition of Biophilic Design into urban areas has had a series of positive effects on its profiters, encouraging healthy behaviours such as walking and cycling. In turn, he suggests the long term effects of biophilic design to be one of helping people live healthier, happier, and longer lives.

Biophilic design has also been seen to have a great impact upon the workplace. Studies have shown the addition of plants into interior environments to help reduce levels of stress (Gillis & Gatersleben 2015). Moreover, Sanchez (2018) found biophilic design to improve levels of concentration for workers.

Similarly, Ebbini (2021) found biophilic design to have a positive effect upon students, not only increasing their creative output, but also recording an increase in the inclusion of biophilic principles into work. Similarly, Dannenberg (2011) also children raised in green neighbourhoods had fewer symptoms of asthma than those raised in urban environments.

Clean your air

Remove harmful toxins and improve your indoor air

UTS laboratory research shows indoor plants:
  • Have strong capacity to remove VOCs; and If concentrations rise, so do rates of removal
  • All species are about equally effective – main removal agents are normal root-zone bacteria; plant nourishes & regulates its microorganisms (symbiosis)
  • Hydroculture plants work also (just a bit slower to get started)
  • VOC’s are removed day and night (24/7)
  • Absorbed VOC’s don’t accumulate — broken down to CO2 and water

Boost Productivity

Improve concentration & productivity up to 10%

Indoor plant presence increases productivity, performance, job satisfaction, by >10%, measured by:
  • Faster times to complete computer tasks
  • Creative task performance
  • Sorting and editing tasks
  • Attention capacity
  • Job satisfaction (on all 10 criteria tested)
  • Promotes good office relationships
A European study by engineers/physicists found a 1% reduction in dissatisfaction with IAQ resulted in a 10% increase in productivity!(18) – that means indoor plants repay more than the cost of their keep!

Reduce Stress

Reduce the symptoms of stress up to 50%

International research shows indoor plant presence reduces feelings of stress and negativity:

  • Lowered tension levels, using EEG, EMG & blood pressure readings
  • Survey questionnaires probing stress and/or negativity

UTS office study (55 staff; single offices) recorded average scores of reductions in stress and negative mood feelings of over 40% with plants in the office

Improve sick leave

Reduce short term absenteeism up to 60%

Medical research shows workplace stress reduces productivity and performance, & leads to illness; stress-related illness is a widespread urban health concern; and staff illness & sick-leave absences are used as direct indicators and measures of lost productivity(19-21).International research shows Indoor plant presence reduces illness and absences(22-24):
  • Sick-leave — from 20 to >60%
  • Coughing & wheezing — 35%>
  • Dry eyes, nose, throat — 20%>
  • Perceptions of pain — 25%

How can you implement Biophilic Design into your workplace?

Incorporating biophilic design into your workplace is not only easy, but cheap as well. You can begin by really making the most of your office or workspace. Make sure nothing is covering or blocking your windows. These are vital in getting light, ventilation, and natural sounds into your workplace.

Next, begin to think about introducing plants – we can offer a range of services to help here. Whether you want to simply buy indoor plants in our online shop, discuss our plant rental service, discover living walls, or look for a bespoke design & fit out – we can find the right solution for your business.

Rent plants for your office

Buy Indoor Plants

Discover living walls

Request a bespoke design & fitout

Finally, you can even spice up those white or magnolia walls with considerable ease. Begin by adding in some ‘earth tones’ (Greys, Greens, Browns) into your room. You don’t necessarily have to do anything too drastic, like painting walls. Instead, maybe look to buy some plant pots in keeping with the principles of biophilic design.

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Biophilic Design:

Concept used within the building industry to increase occupant connectivity to the natural environment through the use of direct nature, indirect nature, and space and place conditions.

  • Great health, environmental, and economic benefits
  • Dannenberg (2011) -children growing up in green neighbourhoods had fewer symptoms of asthma than those who did not.

Environmental & Economic benefits: 

  • Newman (2015) – adding biophilic design and landscapes, cities like New York can see savings nearing $470 million due to increased worker productivity and save $1.7 billion from reduced crime expenses.
  • Beatley’s (2013) concept of urban resilience. The addition of biophilic design into urban environments causes good behaviours (adaptive capacity) that have positive knock-on effects (resilient outcomes) for occupants.
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Plants for Offices

Breathe life into your business with indoor plants.

We consult, design, maintain and replace plants in businesses across the North West. We also deliver indoor plants to businesses nationwide, so you can green your team or treat them to a gift that will grow for years.

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