IN WHAT WAYS CAN ELEMENTS FROM NATURE REDUCE STRESS IN THE WORKPLACE?
What did you want to accomplish with your project?
I want to make people aware of the problems surrounding work-related stress and to show, through the design, that the surroundings in the workplace can have a restorative effect and provide new energy.
What has inspired you?
Nature! During these two years, the project has taken several different turns, and so it should in a design process, but I have been focussed on taking inspiration from nature from day one. It is majestic and magical. I find inspiration in everything out there.
What have you discovered during the process?
The main turning point was when I chose to work with associations with nature, instead of bringing actual nature into the building. Stephen Kaplan argues in Attention Restoration Theory that we have two types of attention. Directed attention drains us of energy, while involuntary attention gives us energy. We use involuntary attention when we discover something that fascinates us, such as a natural landscape. This opened a new world of possibilities, because it is about sensory impressions! We need new impulses that bring us out of focus for a short while, so that we can re-charge before the next round.
What are the results?
The main elements in the building are the focal points: the social zones and the meeting rooms. The focus has been on creating a space that is fascinating and has a restorative effect. There are associations with rhythms, movement and reflections that we see in nature in several elements in these zones. The result is a working environment that provides alternatives to the average workplace. It offers opportunities to change your environment during the course of the day. I have intentionally played with height differences to create contrasts between the feeling of freedom in the work premises and the feeling of security in the more enclosed spaces. The materials and colour palette are inspired by natural elements and use great contrasts to awaken interest.
What significance could this have for society?
Today, stress is the second most reported work- related health problem in Europe, after musculoskeletal complaints. More than half of all lost workdays are linked to work-related stress, so it is not just a big health problem, but also a big economic problem. The topic is both relevant to society and beneficial for individuals, which has made it very interesting to work on.