Lobbies are the first place where people enter a building. They give a strong first impression to the employees and guests entering the space. Many opportunities exist in the lobby to allow people to have an experience of human to nature interconnectivity that will provide them with an idea of what is to come within the office space.
When people enter a lobby, they can be immersed in an experience and sense that they are entering a calming environment. When people see plants, earth tone colors, natural light (if available), and materials representative of nature, the human will subconsciously respond to this in a positive way. Below, I will highlight some of the simplest of ways to incorporate biophilia into lobbies:
There are many surfaces that are representative of nature. Materials such as wood, stone, bamboo, rattan, wicker, and walls and floors with earth tones inspire imagery of natural scenes.
Incorporating natural light is beneficial to people, as well as the energy bill. In terms of biophilic design principles, use of natural lighting also relates to temporal changes that change throughout the day. A lighting system that naturally or artificially changes in intensity, as well as color temperature, throughout the day to mimic our circadian rhythm helps better connect people to the outdoor environment.
Furnishings that include biophilic materials and plants can complement the overall spatial design. Furnishings that use natural materials and incorporate organic forms provide opportunities to the overarching biophilic design aesthetic.
Green walls allow plants to be brought into the space without losing valuable square footage. Green walls can be made of live plants, moss, and faux material to create a feature wall, to divide space, as well as to create a spatial sanctuary for people sitting in the lobby.
Typically, there is a constant level of temperature control in an air conditioned interior office space, yet studies have found that enhanced performance occurs when there is moderate variability in temperature and airflow. Airflow stimulation has been found to keep people more alert, also naturally improving focus and performance. In an office lobby, this parallels other biophilic design features such as sounds of nature and the rustling of leaves one might hear while sitting in a park.
Empirical research has found that the presence of water increases feelings of tranquility. Biophilic lobbies that add the presence of water to spaces have several health benefits such as, lower blood pressure and heart rate, decreased stress level, and attention restoration. This can be great for that recent college graduate waiting for their first job interview!
There are many opportunities to incorporate plants within a biophilically-designed space. Plants can be accents to rooms, incorporated into walls, ceilings, furniture, and floors, but also utilized holistically where spatial experience is more representative of an indoor wilderness.
Biophilic design also considers patterns as shown in nature. Patterns can be that of fractal sequence, Fibonacci spirals, and organic patterns like that of a honeycomb. Patterns can be incorporated at the macro-level building footprint down to the micro-scale carpet tiles and wall panels.
There are other areas to incorporate biophilia in the workplace. These areas include:
- Collaboration areas
- Individual work areas
- Corridors and thresholds
- Wall, ceiling, and floor surfaces
- Eating areas
Each of these zones can incorporate elements of nature through added plants, biomorphic forms, natural materials, sunlight, water, fractal patterns, and views of landscapes. To learn more about incorporating biophilia into areas of the workplace, download our in-depth whitepaper.