The positive impacts of humans connecting to nature both visually and physically are countless. Among other things, a connection to nature has been shown to increase mental function and memory by 10-25% (Herschong, 2003) and reduce stress.
At one of our most recent office building - the French bid for the European Medicines Agency - we extended all office spaces and larger gathering spaces to outdoor terraces, so everyone walking around have easy access to outdoor, recreational areas. We also designed the building so that everyone sitting down have visibility to greenery - vegetation that also provides comfortable shade.
Designing floor plates that allow for a greater percentage of people to enjoy views and using green atria as buffer zones to reduce the impact of overheating allows the occupants to feel this connection to nature. Direct access and exposure to views of nature can help to speed up healing and recovery time, boost positive feelings and reduce negative ones. Interior environments that are cold, sterile and devoid of life, on the other hand, can diminish our experience, mood, and happiness.
Integrating nature in a building promotes health and helps the occupants derive a measure of comfort or joy from their surroundings.
On an urban scale, integrating nature in buildings can have a tremendous effect on air quality, noise reduction, and CO2 levels.
At the EMA workspace, our landscape design department is integrating a complete ecosystem on the roof with bees, butterflies, birds etc., and thus we are creating a natural habitat, which increases the biodiversity.
This can among other things:
- Improve air quality
- Reduce the Urban Heat Island effect
- Sway up carbon dioxide
We will get healthier office buildings and thus healthier people, better workflows and a more productive workforce if we integrate nature in our architecture from the beginning. We as architects and urban designers have the power to promote vegetation in our workspaces with widespread positive consequences like better livability.
Let’s be brave.