Salus journal

Healthy Planet. Healthy People.

Cities / Healthy Cities

Healthy City Design 2019

The role of landscape architecture in creating the biophilic workplace

By Matthew Jessop 25 Nov 2019 0

Using project examples and research, this proposal looks at the role of landscape architecture in biophilic design for enhancing productivity and wellbeing in the workplace.

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Biophilia is our innate connection to nature, while biophilic design is its application to the built environment to enhance health and wellbeing. With increased urbanisation, however, and the fact we now spend more than 90 per cent of our time indoors, we’re heading towards a future with fewer opportunities to encounter nature in our daily lives.

Biophilic design can create offices that boost productivity, have higher rates of staff retention, enhance psychological mood, and reduce employee absenteeism by 10 per cent. While we know that good quality outdoor space is beneficial to wellbeing, it’s often absent from office design. As such, the potential role of external office green space remains largely untapped. This proposal seeks to rectify this issue by identifying the health opportunities landscape architecture offers workplaces, while exploring the business case for extending the application of biophilia to the wider built environment, not only to create productive offices but also productive cities.

With a large proportion of biophilic literature and media focused on interior environments, this paper will widen the discussion on how previous research, strategies and lessons learnt from biophilic workplace design can be applied to workplace landscape typologies and a broader framework: to bring the biophilic office outdoors. This proposal will also look at best practice approaches for design team methods of collaboration and implementation of biophilic landscapes for workplaces – from interior and exterior perspectives. For Delos’ headquarters in New York City, for example, a design workshop was facilitated to prioritise the project health and sustainability goals from the outset, as well as identifying opportunities for cross-platform integration with biophilic interventions. This led to the creation of a biophilia plan to guide the design development, ensuring the final product would provide real connections to nature.

In summary, by adapting the evidence base for a broader framework, the potential gains for human health and wellbeing of the wider urban environment will be nurtured – from one building to a neighbourhood, to a city-wide scale.

Organisations involved