Spotlight On: Greentecture In The Workplace
Green is quickly becoming the colour of business, and a huge number of companies and workplaces alike are closely analysing their environmental credentials and making themselves part of the global solution as well as making them better for all the staff working in them.
This overall concept is Greentecture, and whilst not entirely new, it has become an increasing focus of interior and exterior designers alike as they try to get away from jungles of concrete, steel and glass that form most major business hubs.
The benefits both in the immediate term and in the future are evident, but what some smaller businesses may not realise is that Greentecture is far more scalable than they may expect, ranging from a suite of beautiful office plants to timber-framed offices built with health in mind.
What Is Greentecture?
Short for “green architecture, greentecture is a design and construction movement that centres on integrating ecologically sympathetic principles into every step of the design and construction process to both reduce a given project’s impact on the environment and promote improved health and well-being to the people inside it.
This means using sustainable and recyclable building materials, designing with daylighting in mind to maximise the amount of natural light available in a space without causing complications such as glare or greenhouse effect temperatures, and emphasising biophilic design.
This third element is where a lot of current office buildings can take advantage of greentecture without extensive and expensive retrofitting, as incorporating nature into built structures can be both elaborate and straightforward depending on your approach.
The benefits to health come from the biophilia hypothesis first posited by Erich Fromm in 1973, which is the concept that people tend to want to connect to nature and life. It is why people who take a walk in the park or tend to a garden may feel a sense of inner peace as a result.
There are a lot of ways in which greentecture and biophilic architecture intersect, and whilst there is a perception that the latter requires timber facades, green walls and indoor ponds, adding green architecture principles to an existing workspace does not need to necessarily be this drastic.
The Three Principles Of Biophilic Design
Greentecture and biophilic design are interconnected, particularly when it comes to the people who would receive the fullest benefits.
According to Stephen Kellert, co-writer of the 1993 book The Biophilia Hypothesis, effective green design consists of three core principles.
The first is that designs should provide a tangible, direct experience of nature. This can include incorporating plants into a workspace but also involves principles such as daylighting, ventilation, bodies of water, observing water and natural environments.
The second is what he defined as “indirect” experiences of nature, which is the incorporation of representative features associated with nature such as using natural colours, materials, images reflective of nature, artificial light that simulates natural light, biomimicry and other evocations of nature.
Finally, he refers to the benefits of spatial relationships, which include the incorporation of comforting spaces and refuges, transitional spaces such as atriums and porches, comfortable mobility between different areas and incorporating nearby geography into the design.