Biophilic Illusions Refresh
the Working Mind
As sustainable practices gain ground, companies invest in long-term efficiencies like solar power systems and bio-diverse rooftops, bellwethers of the 21st century eco-economy.
With all the emphasis on reestablishing a symbiotic relationship with the environment, there’s one corner of the sustainable economy where a radical change is quietly taking place – inside the workplace.
According to the E.P.A., the average adult spends 90% of his time indoors. What’s more, studies find that Americans work the longest among developed nations – taking less vacation and routinely working after-hours. In addition, a body of evidence on productivity and employee wellness has found that a deficient exposure to natural environments, as prevalent among America’s work force, is detrimental to the health of mind and body. These findings echo the Biophilia Hypothesis, first formulated by Harvard biologist E. O. Wilson, which proposes that human beings have an instinctive, genetically based need to affiliate with nature.
In a recent article in The New York Times, Tony Schwartz, CEO of The Energy Project, discusses the importance of acknowledging our inherent restoration cycles. These biorhythms of rest and activity regulate how we recharge, fuel our attention span, learning ability, and productivity – all of which require periodic feedback from nature to remain productive throughout the day.
Top companies are taking notice, commissioning new headquarters that provide as much natural light as possible, adding stimulating indoor foliage and other organic textures that enhance enclosed areas. Daylight in particular has long been identified as essential to individual well-being, fueling our creativity, learning ability and key cognitive functions, as well as maintaining our connection to the cycles of day and night.
Despite these efforts, the lion’s share of current corporate real estate cannot be rebuilt anytime soon and employers are left to contend with limitations of existing structures. Here’s where Sky Factory’s nature illusions enable companies like Suez, France’s largest provider of gas and electricity, to create a powerful biophilic effect. Targeting their underground conference area, the isolated area was transformed with a realistic illusion of a beautiful overhead sky in a remarkably cost-effective fashion.
More and more companies are discovering the beneficial effects of virtual skylights and windows in areas without access to natural light or views. Sky Factory’s unique biophilic illusions provide a focal point that engages viewers and provides a realistic view that relaxes the mind via accurate color reproduction and daylight quality light.
Research at Texas Tech University’s Neuroimaging Institute found unique activations in subjects’ brains, particularly in the cerebellum, when they viewed unique Sky Factory sky-image compositions. Neuroscientists associate these neuro-activations with experiences of expanded space.
Biophilia and healthcare design pioneer, Dr. Roger Ulrich, has established that super realistic simulated views – illusions of nature – can be as beneficial as actual views in healthcare settings. Sky Factory’s biophilic products masterfully choreograph a dozen design parameters to create beautifully engaging views to nature. These illusions of nature are processed – recognized cognitively – similarly to actual nature experiences.
Since most companies have their conference rooms in areas of the building devoid of natural light, ironically, they are not suited for productive thinking. This is precisely the type of room that benefits the most from the perception of open space, aiding focused thinking in a relaxed manner and spurring creativity by framing a visual environment within a window of imaginary natural space.
The Industrial Medicine Center in Paris, France, took advantage of this to virtually open up their closed-in basement conference room and facilitate deeper thinking and well-being with the help of two powerful biophilic illusions: a Luminous SkyCeiling with verdant motifs and a Luminous Sky Virtual Window of a majestic ocean cove.
The impact has been experienced as far away as Kiryat Gat, Israel, where a client’s customary office ceilings have been transformed from otherwise gray overhead space into soaring skyscapes, providing visual cues that silently thread a virtual connection to nature whose benefits for mind and body are 100% real. In this manner, our working brain can rest, recharge, and soar when needed.