Adding Greenery to your Offices

Eco Garden Offices – Just Add Vegetables and a Rice Paddy   

People work better when they don’t feel like they are trapped inside all day and the best way to avoid that is to bring nature into the office, or take the office outdoors. From stunning green walls to lush and productive organic vegetable gardens, the eco garden is coming to an office space near you.

Gone are the days when a peace plant plonked in a corner or an indoor palm or two were dotted around the office or in a planter box, done mainly because it was the ‘done’ thing rather than for health, worker comfort or the environment.

Now designers are reporting a demand for entire walls with vertical gardens; structures that hold indoor plants in a vertical and horizontal pattern in freestanding columns and walls. These vertical gardens are an innovative way to enjoy indoor greenery in any space, either as a living wall feature or used as a stunning room divider. And they make a fabulous visual statement to both potential visiting clients and employees.

The Netherlands is a trendsetter when it comes to innovative design for dense urban workplaces, which is not surprising considering the country’s limited space. RAU Architects’ Green Office 2015 concept for a multi-functional office building combines a spacious interior for comfortable working and ample green space for recreation.

The design is for a site with existing infrastructure; integrates sustainable transportation and is outfitted with photovoltaic cells and wind turbines to keep the office’s carbon footprint low.

The architects’ brief was to provide a productive working environment, so they proposed interior and exterior features that would encourage a balanced working style. The office interior has an adjustable ventilation system for comfort, as well as surface lighting providing better illumination than traditional lighting. The building has a green roof and central courtyard to invite employees outdoors and to create mingling opportunities.

Another example of the trend in eco garden offices is the Tokyo headquarters for Japanese recruitment company Pasona Group, which has a sustainable urban garden incorporated into the overall office design, a lush addition that sheds a whole new light on green architecture.

Designer Yoshimi Kono wanted to make the structure both beautiful and functional and the result was an exterior covered in foliage with a series of overhead trellises.

Urban Farm at Pasona Tokyo Headquarters is a nine storey corporate office building located in downtown Tokyo. Urban farming facilities are cleverly integrated within the building creating green space where 200 species of fruits, vegetables and rice are harvested, prepared and served fresh at the cafeterias within the building.

Using both hydroponic and soil based farming, crops and office workers share space in common. Tomato vines are suspended above conference tables, lemon trees and passionfruit vines  are used as partitions for meeting spaces, salad greens grow in seminar rooms and bean sprouts grow under benches.

The main lobby features a rice paddy and a broccoli bed. Supporting these crops are HEFL, fluorescent and LED lamps and an automatic irrigation system. An intelligent climate control system monitors humidity, temperature and airflow to balance human comfort during office hours and optimise crop growth after hours. Abundant seasonal flowers and orange trees are planted on the balconies between the double skinned façade. Pasona employees are actively involved in maintaining the gardens and harvesting the crops with the help of an agricultural specialist.

Pasona Urban Farm is not only a unique workplace environment designed to promote productivity, mental health, and social interaction among staff, but also to engage the wider community of Tokyo by showcasing the benefits and technology of urban agriculture.

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