It shouldn’t be hard to do. As we know from study after study, productivity and staff retention levels improve if people feel they’re in a healthy workplace.
Office designers appreciate this; they know good quality air and natural light are essential for a happy office. We all need Vitamin D, and sitting in a badly designed office denies many their daily dose.
Landscape architects know it too, and have a big part to play in helping boost staff wellbeing. After all, few professionals are closer to nature, fresh air and sunlight than the landscaping community. And we’ve seen the rise of biophilic landscape design increasingly putting the great outdoors at the heart of modern urban development. Edinburgh University has even started offering a course called Landscaping and Wellbeing. It calls it “an innovative, interdisciplinary approach to the study of salutogenic landscapes and the importance of the environment for human health and wellbeing.”
From a landscaper’s point of view, there are many opportunities to work with businesses and come up with schemes that are highly salutogenic.
Salutogenesis, by the way, means studying what factors promote wellbeing, what factors cause stress and understanding the relationship between them.
Take the Sky HQ Campus in West London for example, otherwise known as the ‘Believe in Better Building’. A mixed-use building with office areas and space for the Sky Academy, the client believed that green spaces, both inside and outside, were essential to the health and wellbeing of staff and visitors.
The architects Alexandra Steed Urban created an environment that fosters connections between people and a big part of that was the high-quality landscaping.
They chose Kinley’s AluExcel edging system for the curves and straight paths, alongside hard materials ranging from loose gravels, natural stone paving of various colours and textures and expansive planted areas.
Similarly, on the Crossrail Roof Garden at Canary Wharf, Kinley’s edging was used to help create curving paths in a landscaped tropical roof garden sitting above the six-storey station and leisure complex that extends below water level at the West India Quay.
Both projects show how companies can bring green space and nature into a business environment, improving the quality of life for all who work there.
These landscaped spaces also provide a valuable social function, offering breakout areas to relax or chat with colleagues. People feel and perform better when there are places to connect and interact with fellow workers. Roof terraces or landscaped areas fit the bill perfectly.
So, experiencing nature helps lower stress, improve cognitive function and enhance creativity, and that means more and more companies will be looking to connect with nature. Landscapers everywhere will be keen to show them the way.
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