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Smarter Worklife

Bio-based architecture

Offices built in symbiosis with nature, focused on outdoor environments, enhance performance and well-being. That’s what the Japanese architect agency Kengo Kuma & Associates says. They are behind the design of the biophilic office project Welcome, Feeling at Work in Milan. 

The term biophilia was coined in the 1960s. The man behind the term was philosopher and psychologist Erich Fromm, who described it as “the passionate love of life and of all that is alive.”

About 20 years later, the concept was broadened and brought into the mainstream by biologist Edward O. Wilson and his Biophilia Hypothesis—which briefly states that humans not only have an innate love of all living things, but also an innate affinity for the natural world. Perhaps it is this affinity that gives us such a longing to get closer to nature in our daily lives, for example with flowers and potted plants, both at home and in the workplace? 

One company that takes biophilia very seriously is the Japanese architect firm of Kengo Kuma & Associates, whose new project Welcome, Feeling at Work at Parco Lambro in Milan, creates a new way of designing offices. The design is based on nature and natural surroundings.  

“Up to now, the guiding concept of designing offices has been efficiency, but in the 2020s, the watchwords should instead be health and well-being,” says architect Kengo Kuma, whose aim for the Milan project is to create one of the most sustainably built offices ever.  

 “It is time for a new type of office that is integrated with nature.
A biophilic focus will bring cities to life again.”

Kengo Kuma is an international famous Japanese architect trained at universities in Tokyo and New York.

Businesses will be attracted to the office building because of its opportunities for co-working, auditoriums, restaurants and grocery stores, all surrounded with greenery in the form of vegetable gardens, flowering gardens, greenhouses and green terraces. 

“It is time for a new type of office that is integrated with nature. A biophilic focus will bring cities to life again,” Kengo Kuma says.  

The building is expected to be completed in 2024. Building it in Milan, of all the cities in the world, was a conscious choice, Kuma says. 

“It’s a city that uniquely combines modernity and tradition in art, architecture and crafts, which makes Milan the ultimate place to realize our project.”  

What is biophilia? 

Biophilia is humanity’s inherent affinity for living creatures and nature. The term was coined by Erich Fromm and expanded by biologist Edward O. Wilson.