Originally published in Virgin Australia magazine, by Samantha van Egmond on 1 November 2019

Workplaces and cities around the world are greening up in the name of greater wellbeing – and productivity.

Cities are often seen as the antithesis of the natural world, with urban dwellers flocking to the nearest park on their lunch break in search of sunlight, fresh air and greenery. This innate desire to connect with nature – a concept known as biophilia – is a catalyst for a growing number of bold and imaginative spaces that are literally breathing new life into cities around the world as researchers increasingly find links between wellbeing and exposure to nature.


Barangaroo House

“Nature grounds people, it is hardwired in us to seek it out,” says Junglefy general manager, Suzie Barnett. The Sydney-based ‘living infrastructure’ company creates greenery installations for buildings and public spaces in an effort to rekindle a connection to the natural world. The team has been involved in several high profile projects, including Sydney’s  One Central Park working with French botanist Patrick Blanc to create the world’s tallest vertical garden, at 130m high – as well as greening up Matt Moran’s restaurant, Baranagaroo House, and installing ‘breathing walls’ at Lendlease’s Sydney and Melbourne offices.

Barnett adds that biophilic design extends beyond plants, with sensory-deprived workplaces looking at ways to incorporate sounds, smell and touch. “While vegetation is important for biodiversity and air quality, there are other elements that go along with it, says Barnett. ‘Natural light, the colours and shapes you see in nature – designers are seeking to create spaces where people feel like they are actually outside.”


In Melbourne, a handful of large-scale developments showcasing biophilic design are underway, including Burwood Brickworks – a retail centre awarded six stars from the Green Building Council of Australia for its sustainability-focused design – and Melbourne Skyfarm, a collaborative project to transform a 2000sqm rooftop car park into an urban farm. Green Spine, the city’s newest skyscraper, set to be the largest in the Southern Hemisphere at 356.2m, will feature a range of vertical gardens and a botanical rooftop.

“Biophilic design is definitely not a trend; its an evolution in the industry,” says Barnett. “We’re finally creating places for people that result in cities being happier, healthier and more socially connected.”

Read the full article on Virgin Australia