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Take a look around your office, what can you see? Do you have a window nearby? Can you see greenery?
You’d be surprised how many people will answer ‘No’ to these questions. While many offices have made great headway in transforming from drab, old fashioned cubicles to more modern and accommodating spaces, there is still a question as to whether employers are doing enough to connect employees with nature within their working environment.
As part of a wider wellness movement, you may have heard of the term ‘biophilia’ - the theory that humans have an innate need to connect with nature. In response to this theory, ‘biophilic design’ principles have emerged which can lessen the impact of this separation by bringing natural elements indoors in a way that mimics outdoor environments. And, for employers who view wellness and wellbeing as crucial to their organisation, bringing the outside in and creating exposure to nature through interior landscaping can make a positive difference to their employees.
Plants are an aesthetically-pleasing, easy-to-maintain addition to any workplace - but the benefits don’t end there. In addition to those studies which have shown that plants can reduce stress and anxiety, some plants have been found to have air-purifying capabilities, especially indoors where the air is often more polluted than outside.
Incorporating large potted plants into the floor plan, complemented by smaller potted plants on desks is a good place to start. Snake Plants, Peace Lilies and Aloe Vera are just a few examples of foliage proven to purify the air and remove toxins.
To truly achieve biophilic benefits, office designers should really think about incorporating these elements in a way that reflects how they are seen in the natural environment. For example, arranging plants of varying heights and textures in a more sporadic order, to keep with the random way that plants tend to grow in nature.
Living green walls are panels of plants grown vertically using hydroponics, on structures that can be either free-standing or attached to walls.
Trends data suggests that architects and designers are increasingly integrating green walls, and large green installations into designs during pre-construction and the renovation design stage, rather than adding them post-completion, as a secondary aesthetic choice.
Living walls are a great biophilic design element for those businesses who want to turn urban indoor spaces into something natural and beautiful, but have limited floor or wall space. Safe to install on almost any structure, each wall can be individually designed depending on its purpose, the space it will occupy and the brand values of the company.
It goes without saying that green walls boast the same benefits as plants in terms of removing toxins from the air, increasing oxygen levels and fostering calming environments, providing wellbeing benefits for employees as well as a positive impression for guests or visitors.
As styles and requests for living walls evolve and businesses look for office planting that is even more natural, 2019 is very much the year of the moss wall. The flexibility of these walls means that brands can express their personality, incorporate any logo design into the structure, whilst also benefiting from their space-saving, low maintenance characteristics and biophilic features.
Brits spend a staggering 22 hours a day indoors. And with much of this time spent in the office environment, considering the biophilic elements you can inject into interior design through plants and green integration, will have clear benefits to the way people work and operate within the built environment. As the theory of biophilia continues to gain momentum, we can expect to see elements of biophilic design becoming the norm for the modern office, rather than a curiosity implemented by only the most forward-thinking office designers.