Table of Contents
Workplace Issue | The Biophilic Space
That potted plant sitting on your desk says something of what you need. That it’s there, that you brought it in, may also allude to a failure of the building where you are.
Biophilia is our innate desire for proximity to nature or all things natural. We want access to water and plants, to feel sunlight and wind on our skin. These regulate our biorhythms; they make us feel better. We know this intuitively but research tells us how much healthier and productive we become, when these are made available to us indoors. And when we totally disconnect from nature for long periods, there will be problems. There’s even a name for it: nature deficit disorder.
Biophilic design is a list of strategies and features that, in a nutshell, seeks to integrate natural elements and materials, sights, sounds and smells, into an otherwise unyielding matrix of steel and concrete.
Arguably the most justifiable application of biophilic design must be healthcare. Where is this more needed than places where people are sick or recovering? Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) in Singapore (see FuturArc Green Issue 2011) pioneered the notion of a healing environment through biophilic design. CEO, Liak Teng Lit—the subject of The FuturArc Interview this issue—recounts how the idea came about and how it was translated from drawing board to construction site to operations. In the sidebar we see the next generation of biophilic hospitals, Ng Teng Fong General Hospital (NTFGH), which—through an unusual floor plate—brings the window and a view next to each patient’s bed.
This is clearly an important trend, and it reaches beyond the hospital typology. In this issue we showcase the office building. Writer Miriel Ko looks at what is meant by a biophilic workplace, what it means to the occupant. Y-Jean Mun-Delsalle takes us on a tour of a couple of projects in Australia; Dr Zalina Shari introduces us to two in Malaysia. In each write-up, there is a discussion of what the project team did and why.
It’s not hard to agree on this: as a matter of principle, everyone will say this is a good thing. The question, as always, is how much it costs. Will there be payback? Time will tell how indicators of cost play out.
We ask that you be the judge of projects in the issue. Tell us if there are others in your city that deserve to be acknowledged.