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The Biophilic Approach: Increasing Productivity, Health and Wellbeing

Over the years, the MWA team has seen the emergence of many design trends and techniques used to create more efficient and effective indoor environments. To achieve such a feat, businesses have tried to deploy an internal layout that strikes the right balance between creating a relaxing and calming space for employees and clients, whilst boosting their productivity levels.

Within the last twelve months, where employee health and wellbeing has understandably become much more of a focal point, there has and will continue to be an increase in demand to create places of work that can positively benefit both our physical and mental state.

Bringing Natural Elements Indoors

Whilst there has been a noticeable uptake in greener spaces being introduced in city centres, densely populated urban areas and even on building rooftops, there has also been an increasing trend of bringing natural elements indoors – whether that’s the office, hotel reception or retail store.

 

Although this design concept isn’t new, biophilia is now being implemented on a much wider scale in commercial buildings. As well as enhancing the workplace, the application of a biophilic design can also significantly improve the customer experience within the retail sector.

The combination of introducing natural resources into retail spaces creates a much more pleasurable shopping experience. Not only is this aesthetically pleasing, but mood and comfort levels can also be improved to create a more pleasurable shopping experience.

Key Trend

With no signs of slowing down, we believe that 2021 will see a growing number of organisations incorporating natural resources within their premises to help their staff feel more connected to nature, especially as many will be returning to the work environment from a long period of remote working.

This is further examined in The Biophilic Office report from BRE and Oliver Heath Design, which conducted research into an occupied office building to demonstrate how biophilia improves the wellbeing and productivity.

The report states that “biophilic design draws on research showing that exposure to natural features and environments is associated with a raft of positive emotional, cognitive, behavioural and physiological responses, and that those who live closer to nature tend to display better health than those in less natural environments.”

 

The increase in demand for biophilic designs illustrates how brick and mortar layouts could be seen as outdated and unstimulating. These more traditional designs are being traded in for wood, stone and other natural finishes. In addition to this, greener spaces are also becoming more frequent in indoor areas such as retail parks, tourism destinations, eateries, reception areas, lobbies, and corridors, as well as main office floors.

This can be achieved in a variety of ways, from placing indoor plants, flowers, greenery on the walls or water features within the entrances, exits or main communal spaces. This effect tends to be more beneficial and complimentary in large well-lit areas, of which are now much more consistent in the design of modern city centre buildings.

The overall aim of this concept is to offer many benefits. Not only does this improve the air quality of the premises, but it is also well documented that nature is an effective inducer of calmness and relaxation. Following on from a year confined to our homes, the benefits that biophilic design can potentially provide will give a significant boost to our mental health and wellbeing.

As a result of increased exposure to natural elements within commercial districts, coupled with the positive environmental impact this can have, a significant boost to the productivity and mental stimulus of individuals will likely be generated.

This notion is further supported in the report The Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace, which found that those working in environments with natural elements reported a 15% higher level of well-being, a 6% higher level of productivity and a 15% higher level of creativity.

It is evident that biophilia offers wide ranging benefits to the workplace, regardless of function or industry. Given that society is constantly shifting towards prioritising health and wellbeing, as well as the environmental issues that are being highlighted around the globe, biophilic design is certainly one to watch during 2021.

Although this design concept isn’t new, biophilia is now being implemented on a much wider scale in commercial buildings.

Marcus Walsh

Director