Human Spaces

Spaces designed with the human in mind

Powered by: Biophilic design hub powered by Interface

Case studies

The Genzyme Center- nature at its heart

Entrance Garden

Anton Grassi - Behnisch Architecture

Main Entrance

Anton Grassi - Behnisch Architecture

It’s encouraging to see that that the corporations at the vanguard of health and wellbeing are incorporating biophilic features right into the heart of their businesses and buildings, improving the working conditions for all that work there; increasing both productivity and job satisfaction but also communication levels across departments. The headquarters of Genzyme (leaders in bio-technology) in Massachusetts, US, designed by Behnisch Architecture is just such a case study.

At the heart of the Genzyme Center is an atrium that rises up between the twelve floors of this office building, known as a vertical boulevard. This enables two important Biophilic Design considerations to be enhanced: the use of natural light and good air quality through natural ventilation. These are of particular importance in office environments to encourage productivity, reduce psychological and physiological effects of stress and increase employee satisfaction; all of which can contribute to improved productivity, reduced absenteeism, attracting and retaining of valuable employees and therefore increased profits for the business.
The atrium not only allows light to flood in to the inner spaces of the building from above, but the inclusion of a reflective pool of water on the ground floor and a range of other features, aid the distribution of light and contribute to ensuring that all workstations have sufficient natural light.

Atrium, chandeliers, lightwall, reflecting panels

Anton Grassi - Behnisch Architecture

These natural lighting features include:
• “U” shaped blinds, which catch and reflect light on to ceiling panels to reduce glare whilst increasing the light penetration to create a more comfortable work environment
• Heliostats (mirrors) on the roof, which track the sun and direct light into the building
• Reflective metal ceiling tiles and wall surfaces that reflect light around the atrium
• Prismatic chandeliers made up of 768 prismatic plates that reflect and diffuse sunlight down through the building. These also create a sense of dynamic nature as the prisms refract the light passing through them to create rainbows that move across different surfaces.

There is evidence that undulation in the air temperature is preferable to a consistent level as it mimics exposure to the natural ventilation of the great outdoors. Within the Genzyme Center, operable windows allow for natural ventilation and airflow as required by employees. The large atrium also enables the building to cool naturally via a passive stack system; as hot air rises up and out of the building maximising the circulation of air.

Within the building an impressive 75% of employees have an outside view. But in addition there are also eighteen interior gardens and seven accessible outdoor garden terraces. These design considerations increase workers access to nature whilst improving the indoor air quality both of which can improve employees cognitive functioning.

And the results speak for themselves, 18 months after the building was opened a survey found that 88% of occupants said that having direct views and access to natural elements indoors improved their sense of well being. Whilst 75% said the building’s design increased their feeling of connection to the fellow office workers; as more and more top tech innovators are encouraging the cross fertilization of ideas across departments, this can only be a good route for business development.