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How 5 destinations outside of the workspace can influence design intent within the working environme

We can all admit it, most of the time there are various places we’d rather be than in an office. However, these spaces are key to be recognised when considering wellbeing and design intent within an office, allowing the office to become just as much a sort after destination

The Forest

Immersing yourself in a forest, wood or countryside landscape is conducive to feeling fresh, energetic, open minded and clear headed. Forests themselves in terms of space and surroundings however, although vast, give the feeling of an enclosed space, but without the feeling of claustrophobia due to the fresh nature of the environment.

These characteristics can be acknowledged and drawn on in a workspace in several different spaces. Firstly, meeting suites treated as a forest, a place to go needing a clear head, an open mind and a fresh outlook will result in more productive meetings and faster meetings as users will get to their points more efficiently feeling like they are in a safe, free-thinking environment. Similarly, this may also encourage users that are typically shyer or easily intimidating during meetings to feel comfortable enough to open up and have their say.

Further to this, quiet zones, retreat areas or sanctuary spaces for reflection, concentration or a break from the hustle & bustle are ideal bases for the theory of the forest – a seemingly quiet surrounding in nature encouraging steady breathing and a balanced mind.

The Beach

Typically, the beach is a location used for escape and breaking away from normal life for a holiday or day out. The destination is known as bright, warm, inviting and open, again drawing on fresh air, sharing (usually a picnic) and a clear mind.

This type of habitat is greatly in line with open plan collaboration points, drawing on the theory of ‘collision’ these become spaces in the open, where teams of people go to share ideas or project work in a space they feel more inspired because it feels like an escape from the desk or the ‘norm’. Also, like a family on a beach, surrounded by the potential of ‘non-direct’ team members inputting their own ideas or views on a subject – thus creating a spark or collision that may not of happened if the environment around them was less like the theory of the beach.

Additionally, with this get away space, it can easily be used for a one to one, elevenses cup of tea as a break with colleagues or a lunch, making the time after this more productive having had a holiday away from the desk.

The Market

People associate markets with hustle & bustle, people, noise, scent, food and socialising. This is an environment that is local to many, and therefore is easily identifiable when transferred through design intent in to a workspace or alternate setting.

Due to its immediate affiliation with food and refreshments, it seems an obvious transfer to become the theory behind a tea-point/breakout room, somewhere that is by nature a social gathering.

Further to this though is the local feeling of a market and this takes the edge off the intimidation factor so many experience when going in to a tea point, that feeling of not having someone to sit with like the cafeteria in an American teen drama – if a space feels familiar and friendly like the local market, people will enjoy their surroundings and feel more comfortable to be free and social.

The Gym

Once the feeling of sore muscles fades away, a good workout is an invigorating way to boost your mood, this is due to the endorphins released through the body interacting with the receptors of the brain triggering positive thoughts and feelings.

When considering a workspace design, the users wellbeing should be at the forefront of the design intent and this is where the similarity to the gym comes in, not only literally but the feeling itself being drawn on - the feeling of positivity and uplift should be laced through the scheme.

Additionally, physical wellbeing is just as important as mental wellbeing and so pulling on the theory of the gym, keeping active throughout the workspace is important, even when just taking the time to stand instead of sitting at your desk, or walking away from the desk to stretch your legs – another opportunity to collide with colleagues and spark a new idea or interaction.

Furthermore, designing locations for actual exercise classes or equipment within the workspace as a more literal comparison between destinations will boost that positive physical feeling for each user as well as increase the notion of mental wellbeing.

The Art Gallery

Art increases brain connectivity and plasticity as its purpose is to connect with and appeal to human emotion, sparking the new connections between brain cells and its capability of being moulded in diverse ways with opinions and thoughts about a subjective piece that can even seem different each time it is viewed. This level of stimulus for the brain, in a way, can be compared almost to the above notion of the gym – it keeps the brain fit!

A more literal design intent can be bought in to a workspace with art being used as a catalyst throughout the space – the office becomes the art gallery.

Firstly, art encourages creativity in the brain and therefore within a workspace will embolden users to problem solve in ways they may not have before.

'Creativity is seeing what everyone else has seen, and thinking what no one else has thought.' - Einstein.

Secondly, art typically introduces colour to a space, and so each piece should be considered before its inserted. Colours have many connotations and so can set the mood of an environment quite simply, for example green is fresh and peaceful like the forest above, yellow is associated with joy, and blue represents health and healing.

Lastly, the content of the art can also tie in with all the associations being drawn on above – if an actual image of a forest, beach, market or gym were in a space, that specific area will almost be branded by the art and further enhance the feeling a person gets when visiting those destinations outside of the workspace – when someone views a piece of art themed on a beach they feel the pull of the escape and the openness.

With many different themes, studies, ideas and aspirations within workspace design intent, the end users wellbeing, physical and mental health appear to be the anchor to most – with people-centric design being a notion that is here to stay.

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