29 April 2014 – Conventional office design is simply not working to produce the kind of creative collaborative thinking workplace demanded in today’s competitive environment. But what’s gone wrong? Last year biophilic design expert Stephen Kellert visited Australia and explained the importance of nature to the human brain, in a conversation with one of Australia’s leading architects Glenn Murcutt.
In our green leasing ebook series, The Tenants and Landlords Guide to Happiness, the importance of including nature or references to nature in design emerges strongly, especially in a case study of the WWF offices in Sydney. Now a new book by Nikil Saval released this week, Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace, tries to identify where office design went wrong.
A compelling article in Atlantic Cities on the ideas of biophylic design shows how Kellert is currently working to retrofit a 102,190 square metre office tower in Midtown, Manhattan with “plant life and gardens, natural ventilation, materials, shapes, and lighting.”
The article references important works in the field such as Your Brain on Nature by Eva Selhub and Alan Logan, which shows that people who looked at nature scenes demonstrated faster reaction times and made fewer mistakes in doing cognitively demanding tasks.
Viewing nature is a kind of “visual Valium”, the authors say, and cite some of the earliest examples of studies on nature’s chemical effect on us.
“By measuring cortisol levels of people who had walked in forests and comparing them with people who walked in urban environments, the Shinrin Yoku studies in Japan found that walking in forest environments reduced stress, hostility, and depression while improving sleep and vigor,” the article says.
And a California study found that “those who worked with desirable views of nature showed more activity in the opioid receptors, an area that when active, is known for causing people to be less likely to perceive themselves as stressed and more likely to form emotional bonds and focus less on negative memories”.
- Read the whole story in Atlantic Cities
- See our article Murcutt and Kellert on catching the breeze, biophilia and BASIX