Collaboration areas are where ideas come to fruition. These spaces are meant to inspire creativity and social interaction. Just as it’s normal for humans to socialize, it’s also normal for humans to connect with nature. When social connection occurs in a setting such as a biophilic collaboration area, people reach a more comfortable state of well-being while also inspiring productive interaction.
Intersecting benefits of social interaction with biophilic design provide several positive impacts that can be productive for people working in collaboration areas. Positive interaction with others releases oxytocin in the brain, which improves mood. Human connection to nature in an interior work environment increases productivity and reduces anxiety. Additional research shows that when people are connected to the natural environment in an interior setting, they are more productive, have less attention fatigue, and are more likely to be in a better mood. When people are inspired, alert, and in a good state of mind, there will be an increased likelihood of better end results. Having a space that promotes human wellness and creativity is a great starting point to inspire new ideas for all individuals on the team, regardless if individuals are inherently extraverted or introverted.
Offices can leverage the ability to inspire social interaction and collaboration by creating biophilic collaboration areas immersing people in a natural park-like environment. Strategies to incorporate biophilia into collaboration areas can be broken down into 14 patterns, which provide a framework for architects and designers. In order to bring biophilic design into collaboration areas, Terrapin Bright Green suggests finding a balance between various principles of biophilia incorporating strategies that work for specific design aesthetics.
There are several biophilic design applications that can be used in collaboration areas. Collaboration areas can incorporate plants, earth tone colors, natural light (if available), and materials representative of nature. Below, I will highlight some of the simplest of ways to incorporate biophilia into collaboration areas:
There are several surfaces in collaboration areas that can apply biophilic design strategies. Collaboration spaces or booths can include materials such as wood, stone, bamboo, rattan, wicker, and walls and floors with earth tones inspire imagery of natural scenes.
Allowing access to lighting that is natural or relates to temporal changes that change throughout the day can help users collaboration areas stay alert and promote wellness. 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..
Biophilic Collaboration Booths
Collaboration booths that include biophilic materials and plants can compliment 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 collaboration areas 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 collaboration areas, this promotes productivity and continued attention endurance.
There are many opportunities to incorporate plants within a biophlically-designed collaboration 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.