The resurgence of the theory of biophilia and, more recently, biophilic design is more relevant than ever. We, as humans, have a deep-rooted attraction towards nature; and only in the last century has it become possible for people on mass to trap themselves in concrete jungles. One location, in particular, that has associations of estranging humans away from nature is the workplace. Consequently, within the commercial workplace setting, we are now experiencing a catalyst of hazy borders between the outdoors and indoors.
Biophilia within the workplace
Bringing the outdoors indoor isn’t a new development; the Chinese have been growing plants indoors as a symbol of wealth from as early as 1,000 B.C. Even in the UK during the Victorian Era the creation of glasshouse, due to the industrial revolution, allowed explorers to flourish exotic plants that they brought back home from their travels. However glasshouses were only obtainable for the social elite, for most householders biophilia was achieved through wallpapers that portrayed botany inspired patterns. These wallpapers became the most important element to interior decoration in a residential setting at that time.
These hazy borders between the outdoor and indoor have a distinct correlation with the borders between residential and commercial environments. This highlights the loss of singularisation of spaces in our contemporary society, instead with the domination of use value to embrace a fluid approach. Subsequently, as we nomadically roam, there is a constant yearning to feel connected to the surrounding landscapes, as it will support our fluid experiences, ensuring that a constant feeling of comfort is maintained.
A situational value is put on the consumption of space, with transitional spaces adding emphasis to the flexibility. It has been said that being geographically mobile will be a defining feature of the new elite; workplaces interiors will surpass the norm of commercialism through the deconstruction of convention, to allow the surrounding environment to envelop a lifestyle that is sprinkled with essences of home and the outdoors. This design approach highly values environmental empowerment that is directly linked to psychological comfort.
The most direct experience of nature in a built environment would be to have vegetation and flowering plants in the workplace. A study at Cardiff University stated the placement of living plants in a workplace setting improved productivity by 15%. The presence of plants is also known to reduce stress, enrich physical health and improve comfort. Additionally, the notion of comfort has many indirect experiences with nature to achieve biophilia, such as simulating natural light and air; they must be appropriate to each setting to help ensure functional wellbeing at work. By balancing environmental demands with skills and abilities, of employees on how they use their workplace, will create the optimal environment for creativity and flow.