Office architecture: Creating healthy places and spaces.

Updated: Nov 12, 2019

Every weekday thousands of Australia workers wake up early and drag themselves to the office. For 7.5 hours they remain trapped indoors subjected to a myriad of #health hazards as they go about their assigned tasks.

#Offices are nasty affairs. In addition to office politics and elevating work stress, offices are full of airborne pollutants including biological pathogens, volatile organic compounds, ozone gases and more. Excessive #noise and #light pollution inundate workers without interruption as they sit at their desks typing away.

According to Australian's are taking 90 million sick days a year costing the economy $34.1 billion annually. Many are accusing Australian workers of having a sense of entitlement and taking sick days off habitually, but is this the case?

Many offices in Australia's major capital #cities are far from being well maintained. Many have outdated heating and cooling systems, decaying facades and poorly maintained #electrical and #lighting systems as businesses aim to keep operating costs low and profits high.

Sick buildings result in sick workers. Plain and simple. So what's the solution? Many would argue working from home is the go with 1 in 3 workers now doing this in Australia. While this may offer employees and employers flexibility there are many occasions where face-to-face collaboration is essential.

So what would the ideal office look like? Being an #outdoors enthusiast I've often joked that my perfect cubicle would be on a log somewhere in the middle of a Tasmania forest. Fresh #air, plenty of fresh #water and lots of #greenery to inspire tranquillity and reduce stress.

Obviously this is not practical, but what if we could design buildings that invited the outdoors in. Could we design offices that were not only functional professionally but also naturally soothing and healing? It's long been known that those who visit natural environments with lots of plant life report lower levels of stress and anxiety resulting in higher mental functioning.

Over the past decade, architectural #design has moved forward in leaps and bounds. So has our understanding of the environment and the role it plays in maintaining life and promoting wellbeing. There is no doubt our future #workspaces will utilize both. New #materials and structural design combined with organic matter and natural #processes.

Instead of stuffy board rooms, we'll see open courtyards with extendable roofs. Instead of open offices, we'll see secluded #forests with open #spaces - some to collaborate in and others to work independently. And instead of lunchrooms, we'll see outdoor spaces with drinkable #fountains and fruit #trees to pick from all under a flexible roof allowing sunlight to stream in when the sky is clear. Offices will no longer represent draconian prisons but instead re-#energise and #vitalise workers as they go about their day.

It may all sound like but a dream, but as employers fight to attract the best candidates, offices will need to offer much more than just a shelter. Companies like Google, Apple and Adobe have been doing it for years - building not only functional workspaces but also environments where employees #flourish and #grow. Places where people want to come to work and congregate. It's time the rest of the corporate world joined the party. 

Books on architectural gardens

Nick Griffin

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