Experimental Office Space Uses Biophilic Design to Create a 'Living Lab'

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Two wooden pods in a glass-walled room

Tom Donald for Aldworth James & Bond

Humanity's innate love for nature is integrated into this design for a biologically attuned and meditative workspace in London.

Opinions about office design have evolved quite a bit over the decades: the soul-sucking cubicle is out, while open offices and lots of living greenery are in.

Inspired by the biophilic tenet that our love for nature is an innate characteristic, Korean firm Daewha Kang Design created these experimental additions to a twelfth floor of a high-rise office building in London, England.

Open office workspaces
Tom Donald for Aldworth James & Bond

With the aim of assessing the impact of biophilic design on the well-being and productivity of office workers, the project was designed in collaboration with British management company Mitie and Dr. Marcella Ucci of University College of London. It consists of two parts: an immersive "Living Lab" and two Regeneration Pods which offer compact, quiet spaces for meditation and relaxation. The idea is to create a space that speaks to the patterns, materials and lighting that's found in nature, says Kang:

Biophilia refers to human beings’ innate need for a connection with nature. Human physiology is wired to seek qualities of light, view, material and other factors common in the natural world. The Living Lab is fully immersive, with rich and intricate patternization, natural materials and interactive and dynamic lighting.

In the Living Lab, the designers have used digital fabrication techniques to create an unique environment that seems to envelop users in a visually energetic arrangement of bamboo slats, all in varying lengths and shades. The work table has lamps for each station, and planters in the middle. In addition, there are sensors that collect environmental data like temperature and humidity.

In a nod toward the importance of circadian lighting in regulating a healthy biological clock, the installation is connected to a time sensor that alters the lighting as work progresses throughout the day: cooler, bluer lighting in the morning, bright white in the afternoon and a warmer orange tint at the end of the day to help workers mentally wind down their day, while still offering a sweeping view to the outside.

The Regeneration Pods, on the other hand, are more insular in nature, and look like giant pinecones. The interior features upholstered seating that's suited for employees to take a pause, or for meditation. Users can activate an array of lighting choices and ambient sounds that facilitate a mindful, meditative atmosphere.

Wooden pods in a glass room
Tom Donald for Aldworth James & Bond
Large chair in a wooden pod
Tom Donald for Aldworth James & Bond

The project's impacts will be measured in daily surveys that will compare participants' time using the Living Lab and the Regeneration Pods for a period of four weeks, followed by another four weeks working on the same floor with similar environmental parameters, but without the use of the biophilic installations.

But even without such an experiment, it's probably safe to say that having such an aesthetically pleasing and biologically attuned workplace will no doubt make workers happier and better-adjusted. To see more, visit Daewha Kang Design.