20 December 2021
Curated by: Redazione IVM

Office design: trends and solutions for more sustainable workspaces

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Whether we are aware of it or not, we are living in the “indoor generation” era, in other words the generation that spends most of its time in indoor spaces.

According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO) titled “Ambient Air Pollution: a global assessment of exposure and burden of disease”, in the most industrialised nations, people spend about 90% of their time in enclosed spaces, with a consequent reduction of the time that they are exposed to nature, which has negative repercussions on physiological and psychological wellness.

This represents a problem at the global level, to the point that the above-mentioned WHO describes the so-called Sick Building Syndrome, SBS.

In recent years, the economic and social impacts of this phenomenon have led many companies to adopt more eco-friendly behavioural policies, redesigning their offices with structures and concepts devised to guarantee employee wellness and implementing innovative solutions that bring nature into or outside their premises.

Amongst these, the solution introduced by the long-renowned architect Clive Wilkinson, named park, has sparked a great deal of interest in the world of design and office planning.


PARK: a natural oasis for employees’ wellness

In Wilkinson’s concept, the “park” is a location where employees can rediscover a feeling of tranquillity, recharge psychologically and physically, and enjoy a multisensorial experience in contact with nature.

A true oasis with lounge areas for employee relaxation, tables for open-air meetings and wholly revolutionary leisure areas.

Examples of this solution comprise the Twitter office in San Francisco, which has a park covering almost half an acre on the head office’s roof, in addition to lounge areas and a space for events. Likewise there is the PepsiCo head office in Purchase, New York, set in a landscape context totally immersed in nature.

Adopting these solutions highlights tangible benefits both for staff and companies, with the latter being able to rely on happier and more satisfied employees who therefore perform better.

In a 2021 study published by Indeed on the benefits of working in contact with nature, six advantages are specifically mentioned:

  • increased happiness and better mood
  • improved energy levels
  • reduced stress levels
  • resetting the brain and restoring concentration
  • help in staying healthy
  • heightened memory


Biophilic design and connection to nature

Bringing nature into offices is a solution that is already familiar, but in recent years, in part due to the necessity for a global ecological transition, it has demonstrated a powerful upwards trend.

Market data shows that interest in this subject has grown by 7,500% over the last ten years.

From the origins of the organic architecture movement in the early 1990s, we have seen growth leading up to the high points that we are experiencing today. We are facing a post-pandemic period in which companies are becoming increasingly aware of the need to change, to explore new worlds and adopt new design approaches in their offices, focusing principally on sustainability and employee wellness.

Source: explodingtopics.com

A trend that has also become a decisive factor in people’s choice of employment.

According to the report “The Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace”, a third (33%) of employees state that office design has an influence on their decision to work in a company.

Biophilic design involves the creation of interiors designed in such a way as to promote a connection between man and nature.

This design approach has already been introduced by ThinkLab (see the article Key elements and emerging trends in “green” office design) and we will look at it in more detail in the next edition, describing fourteen models of biophilic design.

Editor’s note

The term ‘biophilic’ was first coined by psychoanalyst Erich Fromm (The Heart of Man, 1964), and it was later brought to widespread popularity by biologist Edward Wilson (Biophilia, 1984).

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