Our Office: Chapter 11 – Embracing regeneration
With the expansion of our staff complement in 2022, the next phase of our office evolution involved workspaces for up to twenty people, together with the need for more agile spaces for work, collaboration and reflection.7
After a presentation from our new team member, Xenia Scott, we were reminded of how biophilia improves occupant health and mental wellbeing. According to studies on Attention Restoration Theory, just 40 seconds of viewing nature is enough to restore one’s attention and focus to tasks at hand. Of course, biophilia is about more than just bringing plants indoors. The office already has elements of biophilia, and we wanted to build on this by bringing in specific biophilic concepts based on the location and context of the office, to collectively enhance the interior space.
Agile space planning
Looking at the space planning layout, workstations are placed all along the edges – against walls or adjacent to the glass facades – allowing for visual connections with the garden and nature outside. This frees up the central ‘in-between’ space, allowing for more collaborative type seating to be placed between the workstations, resulting in a change in space and scenery for other tasks and activities.
We positioned a trellis for deciduous plants to grow up the east façade and this serves multiple purposes, providing much needed shade in summer, reducing glare and bringing with it dynamic and diffuse light – an important biophilic pattern which helps to reduce stress. The tree-patterned wallpapered wall at the back and the low ceiling help to create a feeling of refuge and focussed attention, and a bench and seating area were proposed to create a space where one can safely relax and retreat.
The flexible meeting rooms (semi-open or closed) and solo work areas on the west were kept, allowing for alternative spaces for those who may have meetings all day long. An additional space of refuge is proposed on the northern facade, an agile furniture design where a workstation pod is protected with a closed back (to the office) and a direct uninterrupted view of the garden on the open side, providing just enough space for solitude or one other person for company. An additional layer of protection for the back could be offered through a low storage unit, with the incorporation of a water feature. This would provide everyone in the office with an additional mechanism to aid in stress reduction, improve cognitive functions and generally enhance mood and positive emotional responses.
During the December holidays, the garden flourished and became a little overgrown. We embarked on a project to relook at the planting and relocated some of the plants. We have a thriving passion fruit and even some grape vines. We are now growing more passion fruit and grape vines on the trellis on the east façade, and hope to eventually launch a Solid Green Sauvignon Blanc!
The office and garden are now truly a refuge within the busy urban context, a place for focussed work but also for relaxation, reflection and, of course, recreation when the time is right. Our beautiful, bright office now really reflects our ethos and commitment to a regenerative way of working in the built environment.
- March 2023
- Agile space planning, biophilic, biophilic design, green garden, Solid Green Offices