According to the United Nations World Cities Report, 60 percent of the world’s population will live in urban environments by the year 2030. That means 1 in 3 people will reside in cities with a population of at least half a million. As a result, architects, scientists, and organizations are working together. They are studying the dynamics of the human-nature connection. In addition, how this connection can be incorporated into the concrete jungle. The answer to this challenge is biophilic design.
As defined by the International Living Future Institute:
“Biophilic design is the practice of connecting people and nature within our built environments and communities.”
An analysis of the data collected by the Labor Department revealed that the average U.S. employee works 1,811.16 hours every year. An estimated 40 percent work more than 50 hours a week, while 20 percent work more than 60 hours per week. This means that employees spend a lot of time in the office. Maybe even more than they do so at home. As a result, companies are increasingly focusing on providing an office design that creates a holistic, productive and collaborative atmosphere for their employees.
In 2014, the EMEA (Europe, Middle East & Africa) Human Spaces Report analyzed the impact of biophilic design across eight countries. Recently, the second wave of data was collected on workers in 16 countries. Statistics on workers in office environments with natural elements, such as greenery and sunlight, reveal the following:
- 85 percent of the workers surveyed were employed in an urban environment.
- Workers who functioned in airy, well-lit and green spaces, reported 15 percent higher levels of well being as well as lower levels of stress than their counterparts.
- Offices that incorporated biophilic elements increased their productivity by 6 percent.
- Employees’ ability to think, innovate and perform creatively increased by 15 percent.
Some of the first organizations to jump on board the biophilic design philosophy are big weights such as Apple and Amazon. In doing so, they have helped make the movement mainstream through high profile successful projects.
Amazon’s new office in downtown Seattle features three glass and steel domes occupying a forest area of 40,000 plants. Known as the ‘Spheres’, the glass orbs have been an instant hit with employees. From the 4,000 square foot living wall to the 55 foot high treetops, Amazon has created its own unique urban workplace ecosystem.
As part of its outdoor districts in its Redmond campus, Microsoft has built three treehouses to empower its employees to work and interact in new ways. Created by renowned builder Pete Nelson, the treehouses feature unique details. This includes weatherproof benches, rustproof rocking chairs, charred wood walls, and skylights.
Compared to a UFO, Apple Park has aptly been nicknamed the ‘Spaceship’. One of the most energy-efficient buildings in the world, this architectural wonder in Cupertino, California is fitted with solar panels and has its own on-site low carbon central plant. The landscaping includes more than 7,000 trees including indigenous plants of the Mojave Desert and apricot orchards.
While the majority cannot afford grand projects, there are some simple principles which can be easily incorporated into any workplace.
- Increase accessibility to natural light and views of the outside to boost employee productivity.
- Use outdoor spaces like roofs and balconies to create creative working spaces for employees.
- Experiment with bright, vibrant colors like orange and blue.
- Utilize natural textures like wood and stone that imitate the outdoors.
- Bring in plants to increase oxygen levels, which in turn brings down mental fatigue.
- Avoid congested, cramped spaces, and keep the office design open and airy.
In conclusion, biophilic design marks a revolution in office architecture. With scientific backing, it proves that architecture makes a difference in workplace health, employee productivity, project teamwork, and stress management. In the words of Amanda Sturgeon, biophilic design expert, and CEO of International Living Future Institute:
“What could we learn from what makes us love being outside and incorporate it into the design of our buildings?”
When you think of landscape design in corporate settings, you may consider it a one and done type of procedure. In the past, this might have involved using fake plants to fill the voids of blank walls or drab surroundings.
It’s time to take landscape design more seriously as a viable way to not only improve the aesthetic value of your office space, but also the air quality.
Take a look at some recent corporate landscape design trends to show you what’s possible at numerous levels.
The Advent of More Experiential Design
One major trend in this design field is creating more experiential environments, both outdoors and indoors.
You’re seeing a more concerted effort to make corporate settings more enjoyable as a place to not only work, but have more pleasant employee experiences. This includes adding more walking and bicycling paths, or gardens to provide places for solace.
With the corporate world often being hectic, this experiential trend is one to keep in mind to create less stress. It’s a chance for your employees to meditate so they brainstorm for more innovative ideas.
More Sustainability in Landscaping
Many corporations bring sustainable practices in numerous ways now. In landscaping, it’s becoming a major trend, especially in eco-friendly water management.
How you take care of your plants indoors and outdoors is going to play a big part in how you water them. You’re seeing more corporations use plants that don’t require as much water for conservation, including eliminating excessive maintenance.
Succulents are a popular plant variety needing hardly any water, including cacti. If you travel often, these are beautiful plants unable to die on you if you forget to water every week. However, they do need more sun, so you’ll need to keep them by a well-lit window.
The Trend in Using More Colorful Plants
Greenery is still in, but so are more colorful plants for use in office settings. Companies have begun to add uniquely colored plants with purple, pink, or even patterns.
Pink Princess Philodendron is one good example, as is Tri-Color Oyster Plant for a purple tinge. You’re even seeing dwarf fruit trees being used in corporate settings. This is truly a unique trend, even if it does require a little extra maintenance.
The color from growing a small lemon tree in an office suite can add huge visual interest when meeting with guests.
Rather than use standard cubicle walls, some companies are starting to use green dividers as a unique way to bring plants into the workplace.
These green walls work better for noise reduction, including bringing far more privacy. At the same time, using the right type of plant, you can use these to help purify the air from chemicals and other pollutants.
It’s common to see these as stand-alone pieces or working as full dividers.
Plants Cleaning the Air
As part of your more green initiative in your company, you’ll want to think about how plants can purify the air around you. This works outdoors as well as indoors.
Not all plants are good at this, though others are better known for absorbing chemicals like benzene or formaldehyde. These pollutants are often hidden in carpets or furniture, bringing potential illness if you inhale them every day for long hours.
Ficus benjamina, or even Aloa are two of the best air-purifying plants out there. Some of these plants are large enough to fill in spaces to make your office more presentable. Even if you have a lot of office furniture, plants add a visual interest and down-to-earth feel to remove any sterile corporate appearance.
Visit us at Cityscapes Inc. so we can help you achieve these corporate landscape trends to create a new and refreshing aesthetic.
Having plants in a business or at home is an interior decoration tradition, though have you ever wondered what other benefits plants bring? While you’ve likely had greenery in your home or office before, some interior plants are better suited for your environment than others.
Certain varieties look more attractive based on your particular exterior design. Others are easier to care for if you don’t have enough quality office time. You’ll also find plants providing air-cleaning qualities if you don’t want to rely on air purifiers.
Take a look at this list of plants you should consider for improved office design.
Peace Lily Plants
If you want to find a plant helping to clean the air, Peace Lily is one of the best. More formally known as Spathiphyllum, it’s a large plant needing little light. It’s a perfect choice if you need to fill space and have few windows.
The largeness of a peace lily is advantageous in its ability to purify your office air. NASA put this plant at the top of their list when studying plants with the best air purifying capabilities.
Peace Lily is known for removing the often dangerous chemicals Benzene and Trichloroethylene, making your interior spaces healthier. Plus, the plant helps provide more moisture in the air if you’re continually suffering from dry air problems.
Those of you looking for a plant with little maintenance should consider Jade Plant in your home or office. This plant comes from Japan and is known for its succulence and small flowers.
With a formal name of Crassula ovata, the plant can live for years without needing excessive watering. It’s the perfect choice if you’re looking for something attractive that won’t die on you if you forget to water now and again.
These plants do prefer bright light, though, so be sure to keep it by a brightly sunlit window.
As a flowering plant, Gerber Daisy (Gerbara) is beautiful to look at and one of the best at filtering toxins. Many plant experts say these quickly brighten up a room if you feel your home or office space is too drab.
Out of all the pollutants its known to help filter out, benzene is one of the most notable. Benzene is known to emit from printing products, so using Gerber daisies in office settings is usually more common.
Many other pollutants that frequently infiltrate work areas are consumed by this plant, making it a top pick for any office setting.
You can’t go wrong buying a cactus plant in any variety if you don’t want to water plants often. The only thing they do need more of is sunlight. It’s best to buy these if you have a lot of windows in your home or office suite. They prefer considerable sunshine but don’t really like being watered too much.
Anyone who has to travel often can still enjoy any cactus plant for more than a decade with proper care. Of course, in the wild, they live for hundreds of years. Even so, ten years can make your cactus plant assimilate into your interior office design.
Weeping Fig Plant
Known as Ficus benjamina, this is one of the best plants available for filtering pollutants from various sources. Along with filtering benzene, it also consumes formaldehyde.
Some of these pollutants are commonly hidden in carpets or furniture. Your office furniture, for instance, may have more pollutants than you realize from heavy use over a period of time.
Adding a weeping fig plant will do the job, along with filling major space. The waxy green leaves are very attractive and should replace any fake plants you have around your work space.
Visit us at Cityscapes, Inc. so we can help you find cutting edge, sustainable plantscapes for custom design in any work environment.
Whether you manage an office of five people or 500 people, you’ve probably faced the task of refining your office design to improve employee productivity. Most people focus on things like creating open workspaces for better collaboration or adding ergonomic chairs and standing desks for added employee comfort. While these are valuable steps, don’t lose sight of one easy change that can reap big benefits: introducing more green design into your office.
Research shows that incorporating plants in the workplace can improve productivity, increase creativity, and sharpen employee focus. The effects can even extend to employee health. Being around plants or viewing nature scenes can elevate your employees’ mood and wellbeing. It also lowers their heart rate and blood pressure. With all of the benefits plants have to offer, what are you waiting for? Here are three easy ways to get started.
Place Statement Pieces In Central Areas
Start your design process by placing living art pieces in central areas of your office. A vibrant centerpiece of colorful flowers and greenery displayed in the lobby will draw the eyes of clients, visitors and employees every time they pass by it. Thriving plant arrangements placed in conference rooms or waiting rooms will provide a positive visual impact on both clients and employees. And common areas near hallways and elevators are ideal locations for tall plants that take up very little floor space but provide a respite for the eyes and mind. By placing statement pieces in central areas, you can positively impact the most people at once.
Incorporate Unique Plants Into Employee Workspaces
Now that you’ve addressed the central areas of your office, it’s time to focus on employee spaces such as cubicles, workrooms, kitchen areas and bathrooms. These are the spaces your employees use every day, and you can add plants to make an immediate impact.
Start with a series of calming centerpieces such as Japanese-themed zen gardens or bonsai tree arrangements in the kitchen and dining areas. Then energize the office by incorporating flowering plants in the employee workrooms or within each cubicle area. In the bathrooms, add some subtle, low-profile plants on the countertops that provide a pleasant visual appeal without getting in the way. Keep lines of sight in mind as you position these plants since every employee should have a chance to see some green when they look around or get up and walk around.
Create A Green Space The Entire Company Can Enjoy
Many companies offer perks such as gym facilities, foosball and ping pong tables, or onsite food prep for their staff. Why not offer your own company perk in the form of an indoor garden? These relaxing spaces are easy to set up. They can be as small or as large as your available space will allow.
Try to pick an area with high visibility so that employees can benefit from looking at the garden. Indoor trees, flowering shrubs, and water or rock features can be combined to form an idyllic space. This can lower stress levels and promote happiness and creativity. For example, tech startup GIPHY recently created an indoor garden of hanging plants in their New York headquarters. The garden is just one of several design elements that showcase the company’s colorful, fun and friendly attitude.
We hope these ideas have got you thinking about how you can add green design elements to your office. Employee productivity is essential to your company’s success. Why not take advantage of every design element you can to increase that productivity? With a little more greenery in the workplace, you could soon see some very happy, productive employees.
City life is an incredible experience of work and play, opportunity and activity. Around every corner is another shop, street vendor, or sparkling office building and there’s always something to do as long as long as you have a few dollars in your pocket. But living in Boston isn’t all glamor and delicious food. There are plenty of hazards that come with city life as well. While you may be thinking about the crazy drivers on your way to work or the occasional flash flood, what we’re talking about today is the inevitable consequence of so many people living and driving so close together, and it’s not just Boston. Every city struggles with its pollution level and while we don’t talk about it, everyone knows that moving to the city is just a little hard on the lunch and bronchial passage. So how do we make Boston healthier?
Digging That City Air
That said, most people who live in the city and have done so their entire lives don’t even notice city air and wouldn’t trade it if they could. This is a subject you almost never hear about except from civil servants and visitors from far more rural regions who are not used to living near so many other people and cars. For a Bostonian, the mild smell of car mixes naturally with other favorite city smells like food truck menus, fresh spray paint, and the endless mix of faint perfume or cologne on your fellow Bostonians. This is the smell of the city and we’d miss it just as much if we moved out to the country as our rural relatives object to the city smells when they come to visit.
Acknowledging the Health Concerns
But as much as we love city life, the health-conscious among us do acknowledge that there are certain medical concerns involved with living around and above a few million cars that fill the streets every day. Pollution is no joke, especially for those who already have health concerns. To this end, many people have developed their own coping mechanisms for staying healthy without having to leave the bustle of city life. Some use air purifiers, some workout indoors, but we’ve found that the best local-scale solution is simply to plant as many beautiful green things as possible.
Breathing Cleaner Air One Plant at a Time
Plants are nature’s natural air scrubbers and they are truly incredible at what they do. Everything that grows roots and green leaves has the unique ability to turn carbon dioxide into sweet wonderful oxygen that enriches our air, makes it easier to think clearly, and literally boosts your mood. The oxygen a single plant produces might seem negligible but what about a hundred plants? Or a million? It turns out that while our parks are great, you don’t actually need a ground-level garden to enhance your home, work, and public environment with more greenery than you can count on your lunch break. In fact, you don’t even need to be outdoors. With the delightful and incredibly attractive innovation of plant walls and arboreal sculptures, businesses, homeowners, and city planners alike are finding ways to fit these beautiful air-scrubbers absolutely everywhere.
Here at Cityscapes Inc, we delight in finding new creative ways to plant things in places you would never expect. Inside cafes, spiraling up the inside of a glass and steel skyscraper, or even with plants in place of cubicle walls, it is absolutely possible to put a plant almost anywhere you might put a wall, sculpture, or piece of furniture. Indoors or outdoors, the smile our plant installations inspire isn’t just because they’re beautiful. It’s also the effect of delicious oxygen lifting your spirits and reminding your brain of the busy forests we used to live in before we ‘grew’ our favorite concrete jungles.