Biophilic design is only going to become more prevalent in the work place over time. There are some great examples out there already, including these below captured by Oliver Heath from Human Spaces. These are on a large scale and in most instances are works in progress. However if you skim through Google you’ll come across many smaller businesses who apply the same principles in their working spaces – bringing the outside in, allowing nature to lead the way.
1. Apple’s Campus 2, Cupertino, California, USA
Designed by UK based Foster + Partners Apples new HQ is proposed to be in Cupertino, California close to Apple’s existing headquarters. The 176 acres of land will house a 260,128 m2 office, a research and development building, an auditorium, research facilities, a fitness centre, cafe and a low carbon power plant to generate electricity for the campus.
Underground parking will enable 6,000 trees to be planted with a network of walking paths for pedestrians to meander through the site. At the centre of the circular building there is a large circular courtyard where Apple’s employees can socialise, get some fresh air and have some restorative time away from their desks – crucially creating the opportunity to meet and cross fertilise ideas. Having natural landscapes within and surrounding the building means that employees will have views out to nature throughout the building whilst the large glass windows will allow plenty of natural light to flood the interior.
The design team state that the priorities outlined for this project are to:
* Maximise the amount of landscaped green space.
* Provide an expanse of open and green space for Apple employees’ enjoyment.
* Create a distinctive and inspiring 21st Century workplace.
* Exceed economic, social, and environmental sustainability goals through integrated design and development.
2. Facebook’s MPK 20, Palo Alto, California, USA
Recently opened this 40,000m2 office building on a 22 acre site has been designed by Frank Gehry. CEO Mark Zuckerberg claims it is the world’s largest open-plan office with one room that houses 2,800 employees to encourage collaboration. Plenty of Biophilic features have been incorporated which make this an aspirational place in which to work:
Throughout the interior vibrant colours and natural materials are used to define areas and bring the metal, concrete and glass shell to life, e.g. one space immerses the occupier into a vibrant orange hue that emulates stepping into a sunset.
* The vast interior also includes smaller spaces where staff can retreat in order to work together more privately and restorative spaces in which to relax furnished with a range of textured furniture and carpet to stimulate the senses.
* The building also features a 9 acre rooftop park which gives employees plenty of access to nature when they step outside.
* Inside large double height windows enable views out to the planted surroundings and plenty of natural light to flood into the space.
3. Amazon HQ, Seattle, USA
With their proposed offices Amazon are “seeking to build a neighbourhood rather than a campus”. The new neighbourhood which will be situated in downtown Seattle will be 3.3 million Square foot over 3 blocks of the city and will include 3 high-rise, two mid-rise office block, a multi-purpose meeting centre as well as a public dog-waking park, cycle track and ground-level retail spaces.
The highlight of this proposal for us is the three adjoining domes which will be at the centre of the development. These structures which are reminiscent of the Eden Project’s bio-domes will house four floors of open planned flexible work space and a range of trees and plants. The architects NBBJ say “The generative idea is that a plant-rich environment has many positive qualities that are not often found in a typical office setting, while the form of the building will be visually reminiscent of a greenhouse or conservatory, plant material will be selected for its ability to co-exist in a microclimate that also suits people.”
These businesses are using biophilic design to their benefit in numerous ways- firstly to improve staff health and well-being – reducing absenteeism and presenteeism. Secondly, looking to create productive, creative and engaging spaces for staff that stimulates co working and the fertilisation of ideas. But also to attract staff in what’s termed the War for Talent, appealing to graduates with desirable spaces. And once there, it is hoped that this strengthened connection to nature will be alluring enough to retain staff for longer.
Whilst not all businesses would be able to construct their offices from scratch these designs offer a vision for the potential of future workplace design that can inspire smaller scale Biophilic Design approaches.