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Last edited 07 Feb 2019
The Biophilic Office
The World Health Organisation expects stress-related illnesses such as mental health disorders and cardio-vascular disease to be the two largest contributors to disease by 2020. As 90% of people's lives is spent in buildings, this means the built environment can play a significant part in preventing ill health and promoting a positive approach to health and wellbeing.
Biophilia (meaning a love of nature) focuses on a human’s innate attraction to nature and natural processes. American biologist and researcher Edward O. Wilson introduced and popularised this hypothesis in his book, 'Biophilia' (1984) defining this as 'the urge to affiliate with other forms of life'.
Biophilic design uses these ideas as principles to create a human-centred approach that when applied improves many of the spaces that are lived and worked in today, with numerous benefits to health and wellbeing.
Incorporating direct or indirect elements of nature into the built environment have been demonstrated to reduce stress, blood pressure levels and heart rates, whilst increasing productivity, creativity and self-reported rates of wellbeing.
In May 2017, BRE announced that they are working closely with architect and interior designer Oliver Heath on a project to evaluate the value of biophilic design to the workplace environment. The project consists of a plan to take a tired and aging 1980s office building on the BRE campus and refurbish it according to biophilic design principles.
The project is named The Biophilic Office and will show how quantified improvements in productivity and wellness can bring rewards for landlords, occupiers, developers and all those concerned with the office environment.
Researchers will carry out a year of pre-refurbishment and a year of post-refurbishment monitoring, evaluating the office environment for daylight, lighting, indoor air quality, acoustic, thermal and humidity comfort. Office occupants will undergo a confidential health evaluation, sign up to a series of online questionnaires and surveys and receive wearable technology to monitor key health metrics.
A design strategy will be developed including tiers of interventions in zones within the office. The products used will undergo laboratory evaluation to establish whether a health and wellbeing potential can be quantified at products level.
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