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Acoustic Benefits of Biophilia in the Workplace

Biophilia has planted its roots as an integral part of office design. According to the American psychologist E. O. Wilson, biophilia is the “innate and genetically determined affinity of human beings with the natural world.” Interior designers are therefore introducing biophilic design to combat urbanisation and reconnect people with nature.

Studies have confirmed that plants and greenery improve employee wellbeing by reducing stress, improving productivity and encouraging creativity. A study by Human Spaces found that workers who had access to natural features had a 15% higher sense of wellbeing and were 6% more productive.

As highlighted in the epidemic of overwhelm, workers are facing a near constant barrage of distraction, whether it’s through lack of privacy, technology over-stimulus or incessant noise pollution. A less widely known benefit of biophilia is in fact acoustics.

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(Photo by Paramount Interiors)

The University of The Basque Country in Spain conducted research in to the acoustic properties of modular green walls and how plants can reduce sound. Using two separate modular chambers, one with plants on the wall and one without, the results confirmed that the chamber lined with greenery had a “weighted sound reduction index (Rw) of 15 Db.” 15 decibels is the equivalent to people whispering or rustling leaves – enough to be a distraction -  meaning that plants are able to stifle the sound of co-workers discussing their weekend plans.

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(Photo by FlexiForm)

Creatif predict that acoustic benefits of biophilia in the workspace will become more important, especially if the science can be explained and the benefits measured.

Many workplaces follow the 5 spaces for business success. The majority of these areas use traditional office materials such as concrete, brick, granite and glass, all of which comprise of solid flat surfaces. Sound travels in a straight line, so when noise hits these materials the sound bounces back in the same direction. Biophilia offers an acoustic solution; plants are irregular shapes, providing small pockets of space for sound waves to become trapped or diffused. The original noise has been lessened and the echo reduced.

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(Photo by Aztec Interiors)

To truly gain acoustic benefits from biophilia in the workplace, consider consulting experts on acoustic complexities; two potted Aloe Vera’s won’t prevent an onslaught of chatter from a nearby breakout area. Carefully crafted green modular walls and flexible room dividers covered in lush foliage are key elements of biophilic design that will make considerable differences to the office noise level.

Creatif are aware that some businesses may not want the minimal maintenance required by living walls, which is where ‘Whisper’ offers a creative solution by mimicking the botanical environment. Polyester acoustic panels have been specifically designed to reduce and control reverberated (echo) noise in the workplace.

Whisper

A recent project for STS involved providing a secluded space for group collaboration or concentration. Biophilic design had a prominent role; countryside wallpaper, grass-like carpet and wooden fences immersed employees in to a serene space. Creatif’s ‘Cube’ offers effective acoustic panels that soak up unwanted background noise with sky-blue upholstery to make people feel like they really are in a serene space outside.

Cube

When it comes to the fabrics used in Creatif’s products, sustainable and environmentally sourced materials are of paramount importance which is why Creatif use Camira as their supplier. Biophilia is as much about having a connection with nature as it is the way in why they were sourced.

In 2015 Camira were recognised for outstanding achievements in continuous environmental improvement and best in class performance with their second successive Queen’s Award for Sustainable Development. Camira are pioneering a sustainable textile industry through environmental product design, supply chain integrity and resource efficiency. Camira is leading the way on innovative biophilic design, having created an acclaimed sustainable fabric called ‘Sting’ made from a blend of pure new wool and fibre from stinging nettles.

Swatches
(Photo by Camira Fabrics)

Greenery and sustainable resources should be considered when designing offices, especially when natural elements refract and absorb noise pollution, therefore providing acoustic benefits in the workplace. If organic materials aren’t an option, Creatif offer acoustic solutions with the Adaptif range that can simulate biophilic aesthetics and acoustic benefits. Get in touch with the team today to explore how biophilia can benefit your workspace.

Written by Creatif