If you walk from Concourse A to Concourse B at ATL Atlanta Airport, you will experience elements of Biophilia during this transit. You will hear the sounds of wind and birds coming from the hanging plants that are accented with soft lighting. This biophilic experience creates a calming mood when transitioning between concourses in a traditionally busy and sometimes stressful airport. Airports invest in reducing stress for people, and that includes people transitioning from one space to another. When considering the effectiveness that biophilic design applications have at reducing stress people might experience when in transit at airports, offices can apply the same biophilic design methodology in hallways and corridors for their staff to maintain a sense of tranquility during typical business activities.
During the current pandemic times when business leaders are strategizing how to get people to come back to the office, two primary messages are being heard – people want to feel safe and they want to come back to an inspiring work environment. In order to create safe and inspiring work conditions, offices can be redesigned using principles of biophilia in spaces such as the entrance lobby, work stations, collaboration areas, eating spaces, as well as hallways and corridors. This article will pin-point specific opportunities to create safe and inspiring conditions in hallways and corridors using biophilic design strategies.
Strategies for new office builds
For new offices currently being designed using a biophilic design aesthetic, there is a lot of creative liberty available to spatially create a safe and inspiring experience in hallways and corridors. Historically, hallways are at a minimum thirty-six inches wide and are uninspiring spaces to transit through. If there is space available, corridors can be designed wider to create a sense of public health safety while also considering surfaces that create an experience remeniense of walking through a park.
Strategies for existing offices with narrow hallways
In terms of existing corridors that don’t have the flexibility of increasing widths, opportunities exist to create these transit spaces that complement comprehensive biophilic design strategies. Applying images of natural scenes and fractal patterns, incorporating sound, adjusting light conditions, and adding plants all can be used to improve the transit experiences in office spaces.
Strategies for Open Offices
Open offices have a tremendous opportunity to create a sense of safety for staff while incorporating elements of biophilia. Spaces can be widened, while planters can be used to create an element of human to nature connection while also providing ample space for benches and waiting areas.
There are several biophilic design applications that can be used in corridors and hallways. These transit areas can incorporate plants, sounds, earth tone colors, natural light (if available), and materials representative of nature. Below, I will highlight some of the simplest of ways to incorporate biophlia into corridors and transit areas:
Material choices are one of the easiest strategies to incorporate biophilia in hallways and corridors without losing square footage. These transit areas can have surfaces faced with wood, stone, bamboo, rattan, wicker, and earth tones that inspire imagery of natural scenes.
Allowing access to lighting that is natural or relates to temporal changes that change throughout the day can promote wellness and serenity for people walking through. 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.
Green walls allow plants to be brought into hallways without losing valuable square footage. Green walls can be made of live plants, moss, and faux material to create a feature wall in a hallway or to divide space.
Incorporating sounds of nature such as wind, rain, water, birds, and wildlife has the ability to accent the biophilic experience being created in the office.
There are many opportunities to incorporate plants within biophilic designed transit areas. Plants can accent edges, be incorporated into walls, ceilings, furniture, and floors.
The 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 on walls, ceilings, surfaces, and floors within hallways and corridors.