05 Aug 2021 • Work
Are interior green parks a path to better working health?
MOSS and Group A have embedded a two-storey green park within a 23-storey office building in Utrecht.
In total, the lush landscape rises 45 m high and covers 500 sq-m, situated halfway up the high-rise building. Dubbed Central Park, it’s populated by 50 trees and shrubs, 1,500 plants and even a stream, all introduced with one goal in mind: to provide office workers with fresh air and a change of scenery, promoting stress reduction amid busy days. The designers chose a mix of pine-like structures, colourful flowering buds and tropical plants for the spread – flora native to the Azores, an island region in Portugal, was the starting inspiration. Scientific data elaborating upon the positive effect of nature for our physical and mental health informed the final selection. White surfaces and a minimalistic wooden walkway complete the peaceful setting.
It’s hard to imagine a better antidote to midday office blues than going to a space like this. It’s a project that should certainly be a major point of inspiration for urban workspaces not endowed with surrounding greenery, especially with employee mental health and wellbeing now being at the forefront of societal discourse. There’s no doubt about it: green design needs to have a permanent place on the to-do lists of employers seeking ways to motivate workers to come back to the office. Spaces akin to Central Park have the potential to be built out into legitimate employee wellness hubs if proprietors choose to incorporate programming including yoga, meditation and the like.
Developing work interiors that integrates greenery rather than simply incorporating it is a subject MOSS cofounder Nina Sickenga spoke on during a Frame Awards 2020 talk on biophilic design. ‘I think it's better to create a few oases or places where people can go to, to escape from their daily routines – and maybe also to get them away from their desk,’ she said. ‘Of course it's nice to see a plant standing in the corner of the room you're working in, but if you can really go away and visit the place or get this new feeling and then go back to your desk afterwards, it can also be interesting. It doesn’t always have to be this giant impact.’