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Architecture, Neuroscience and the Green Office

Wellness, innovation, productivity… they’re all huge priorities in the work place. 

green office

Now architects are taking cues from neuroscience in order to design the ultimate ‘green office‘ – a work environment that’s not only sustainable from an environmental perspective, but one that helps occupants have a happier, healthier and more productive work day.

The key to understanding how to design the perfect office is simple: there’s no ‘one size fits all’!

Along with the open plan office comes an opportunity to turn the conventional into the exceptional by creating spaces that elicit specific outcomes because of their influence on the human psyche.  It’s all about unique spaces that create unique experiences as you move into them.  Now that we’re no longer chained to a desk, we can move between stations and spaces to find our happy place – the perfect place for whatever we’re working on right now.

If we need to do some blue sky thinking… let’s move into the space with the soaring, cathedral like ceilings and the green, living walls.  If we need to thrash out the minutea, let’s convene in a cosy collaborative space with lower ceilings.

Edward O. Wilson of Harvard University reminds us that we’re naturally drawn to open, green spaces with blue sky and tall trees.  It’s where we can expand our ideas and our visions.  But when we’re threatened, or under pressure, we crave the safety of smaller, safer spaces.

green officeColors, as we’ve discussed previously on the blog, also have a huge impact on how we feel, behave and perform.  Blue keeps us alert.  The reason is pretty obvious.  When the sky is blue it’s daytime and we are awake because the light suppresses the production of melatonin which makes us sleepy.

Blue skies, just like cathedral ceilings, also inspire us to be innovative, creative and visionary – hence the term ‘blue sky thinking’.

Green, is of course, a tranquil color and the most prolific color in nature and it helps us focus in a calm, systematic way.  The best way to introduce green?  Living plants, of course.  Green plants, fresh air and lots of light help our offices feel like places where we want to work.

natural environment green officeAccording to Dr. John Medina, a Washington University molecular biologist,  greenery and plants make us instinctively understand that we’re near water.  Water is essential to life, so we feel nourished and calm. This is why we’re able to focus better surrounded by green.

There’s a brand new campus being developed in Seattle for Urban Visions that is being designed using neuroscientific findings to create a space that will be quite unique and cover 1.2 million square feet.  The goal is to create ‘moments of experience’ throughout the campus with no two moments being alike.  The developers hope to stimulate creativity and innovation.

Since the introduction of the Well Building Standard, we expect to see many more campuses designed around people, supporting them emotionally, mentally and physically.  Work spaces are no longer only about work… they’re about creating a complete environment that nurtures occupants and helps them fulfill their highest potential.  That can only be good for workers and productivity.


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