Biophilia has been an element of design for millennia. Ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Romans, and many others incorporated natural elements in various forms while designing their mansions and palaces. A primarily agrarian lifestyle of people around the world till around a few centuries back helped to continue this trend.
Biophilic design in the workplace has a lot of benefits. It helps to increase creativity and productivity in employees, improve the air quality, and act as stress relievers, among others. So, more and more organizations around the world are turning to biophilic office design. These designs can consist of real trees, large or small, or small artificial trees for enclosed workspaces.
However, biophilia in the workplace is not a random activity. The designing process should follow some principles for it to be effective. Aspects like health factors, expectations of the employees, dimensions of the workplace, cultural/social norms of the area, etc. should play a role before the designs are implemented.
Optimum utilization of the available space is also an important consideration. In this context, it would be worthwhile to view some of the main considerations that precede the biophilic designing of a workplace.
Biophilia Is More Than Just Plants
You may place some potted plants or small fake trees here and there in the office. But biophilia is more than that. Biomorphism also has a role to play. Non-living patterns that resemble living plants and specific leaf arrangements can also have the desired effects on those present in the workplace.
What Is the Objective of Biophilic Design?
Is it just to add a dash of greenery to the office? Or is it to fill up some space that can’t accommodate any furniture? Is it to ensure the mental and physical well-being of the employees? Or is the biophilic design intended as a performance booster? It is important to determine and understand the objectives before going in for such designs. Various combinations of biophilic designs can be made, depending on the desired outcome.
Customize the Design Strategies
It is important to keep in mind the venue in question before formulating the biophilic design strategies. Is it a school/college, or a corporate office? Because the availability of space and other infrastructural issues would need to be considered.
You might like to expose the students to a lot of real greenery and install green walls on the premises. Or else, put up faux palm trees and other outdoor plants. You might also include lakes/small water bodies there, which would have a more relaxing effect. Whereas, in an office, faux birch trees or fake pine trees might be the more feasible options. A medical center might be keen on having small gardens outside every room that would act as stress busters for the patients.
Show Them the Greenery
Visual stimulation is extremely important as far as biophilic workplace design is concerned. The occupants of your office/institution need to see the greenery the moment they look out of the window. Thus, it is important to place the seating/working areas as close to the windows as possible. Be it fake or real trees, it is critical to have the greenery in the line of sight of the occupants of the building. Biophilia designers for building exteriors must keep this aspect in mind.
Include Natural Shapes
Consider filling up the empty spaces with architecture that resemble natural shapes. These items of decoration can be shaped like trees, flowers, or any other oft-seen plant. You may also go for water paths, arches wrapped in greenery on the walkways, faux rock shelves, and more. All of these will add copious elements of natural shapes in the premises of the organization, and also indoors. And that, in turn, goes a long way to make the occupants feel comfortable and at ease.
How Much, Or How Good?
The age-old tussle between quality and quantity is present here as well. Are you looking to cover every bit of the available space with biophilic design elements? Or is your aim to take a minimalist-leaning stance and focus on installing few but more effective biophilic items? Factors like visual aesthetics, budget, ease of maintenance, and other parameters would play a deciding role here.
But do keep in mind that a single high-quality design might be more effective than several run-of-the-mill ones that act more as space-fillers.
Consider Biophilic Artworks
There might be certain handicaps that prevent you from installing real greenery on the premises or within the building. And you are not too keen to install artificial plants. What other options do you have?
Well, for one, you can go for murals depicting landscapes. Or for some organic artworks. It can be a floor-to-ceiling wallpaper that depicts greenery. Or it can be some sort of painting and/or sculpture that reflects nature in its true elements. It would be a most welcome addition to the room’s texture. And it would also take care of your quest for a biophilic design element in the room.
Retain Local Flavor
It is important to keep in mind the local flora while designing biophilic elements for a premise in a certain location. The ecology, climate, landscape, topography, etc. of any place are what the local populace forms a biophilic connection with. So, consider using local natural elements when going for real greenery or replicating them if you are keen on fake plants. The biophilic interior design would be much more effective if the local occupants of the premises can identify it.
Are you looking to design a two-roomed office? Or is it a large campus? The design planning – and consequent effectiveness – would depend on the size of the area available to implement the design. The available space would pose challenges – and opportunities – to the designers. The more optimum usage of the available space, the better would be the effects of the biophilic design.
To conclude, biophilic design has a lot going for it in terms of pre-designing considerations. Unless the designers keep in mind these points, the design would not achieve the intended objectives. So, spare the required time for effectively planning for the design process. The end result would be worth it.