Seminar on biophilic / nature-inspired design as to enhance workplace wellness

Ed Suttie from BRE opened and ended the seminar.


At the end of November, I attended a seminar about biophilic design at the European head office of Plantronics. This topic is becoming more and more spread – the acknowledgment that we are genetically connected to nature and that a human-centred approach can improve many of the spaces that we live and work in, with benefits to our health and wellbeing and efficiency. Below – the agenda of that day.

Using Nature-Inspired Design and Technology to Enhance Workplace Wellness, 27 November, at Plantronics

  • Welcome to Plantronics – James Waddell, Plantronics
  • Enhanced Value Creation in Commercial Development – Owen A. Zachariasse, Delta Developments
  • Bringing Nature into Architecture through Design and Biobased Materials – Daan Bruggink, ORGA Architect and chair of DGBC’s New Construction Advisory Board
  • Comfort Workplaces and Human-Centred Design – Bob Stamhuis, Ahrend and Anne van Heijst, Strukton
  • The Biophilic Office – Ed Suttie, BRE
  • Panel discussion – can human centred design and technology improve wellness?

Below are things I picked up from the knowledgeable speakers.

Owen A. Zachariasse, from Delta Developments, presenting


After a welcome by James Waddell from Plantronics and Ed Suttie from BRE, Owen A. Zachariasse from Delta Developments kicked off the seminar by linking commercial aspect with creating value. “Profit is when you do everything the right way”. He and Delta worked with Plantronics in the process of moving from their old office building to the new existing one, located in Hoofddorp outside Amsterdam. They worked with cradle to cradle and utilised many biophilic features. The location, Park 20|20 is the world’s first Cradle to Cradle optimized working environment. The park combines innovation with sustainable designs, it uses an optimal ecological approach and works with closed systems for energy and water. Leesman (measure employee experience) was used as to follow up the move of Plantronics from their old office to the new one. A very positive development was the outcome – significant improvement!

Owen A. Zachariasse, Delta Developments presenting – the importance of R&D and knowledge driven organisations.


Owen A. Zachariasse, Delta Developments presenting – the importance of holistic thinking, acoustics included.


Daan Bruggink from ORGA Architect speaking


Then Daan Bruggink from ORGA Architect entered the stage and talked about design and biobased materials. Interesting statement – 99% of the human DNA has been “coded” for life in close contact to nature. And we humans spend 90% of our time in un-natural environments. Daan also highlighted specific benefits from biophilic architecture in, for example, healthcare: faster patient recovery, shorter hospital stay, less medication use, less need for staff attention etc. Benefits in educational premises could be increased attention span and learning capacity, better test scores, less staff turnover etc.

Daan Bruggink from ORGA Architect talks about the human DNA


Bob Stamhuis from Ahrend highlighting the personal ergonomic passport


Anne van Heijst from Strukton and Bob Stamhuis from Ahrend continued with comfort and human-centered design. Ahrend has developed a Smart Working App – ergonomic passport module with regards to four comfort modules: desk height adjustment, heated worktop (top of the desk), ventilation and bio-dynamic light. They have also developed a desk unit containing these qualities – a so called Comfort Workstation. Data analysis also being included.


Ed Suttie from BRE – showing the Biophilic Office project team members


Ed Suttie from BRE finalised the seminar talking about the ongoing Biophilic Office project – with the aim of creating evidence with regards to biophilic impact on humans. He touched upon the history and background of biophilia – our generic connection with nature. An office section at BRE in Watford will be refurbished and converted from a traditional existing “old” style into something very much in line the biophilic design principles. Outcomes of the research project will, for example, be practical advice regarding interventions, quantification as part of the decision process, business outcomes and practical guidelines. In the project the building and people will be monitored regarding Indoor Air Quality, light, acoustics/sound together with psychological and physiological aspects. Oliver Heath Design work with the design approach and Susannah Machin explained the conceptual thoughts behind.

Read more about the Biophilic Design project here:

The seminar ended with a panel discussion on how human centred design and technology can improve wellness.

Plantronics European HQ – biophilic touch already from outside


Afterwards participants were offered an inspirational guided office tour of the Plantronics European head quarter. Below you have a selection of photos.


Plantronics European HQ – the entrance with Ecophon acoustic baffles


Plantronics European HQ – with good room acoustics


Plantronics European HQ – a different entrance space


Plantronics European HQ – together with an efficient Ecophon acoustic ceiling they also have a Habitat Soundscaping system using the biophilic sounds of water for masking purposes. To complement this with visuals, they use a “real” indoor waterfall or, like here, a screen with a water stream.




Office 104

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