Kiwi plantscaping business and architecture practice win with Waitākere Ranges’ inspiration

Hot on the tail of a Diamond Award win at the recent International Plantscaping Awards, Outside In has again won big on a global stage, this time alongside leading architecture practice Jasmax. The duo has been awarded the prestigious Diamond Award at the International Biophilic Design Awards in Tampa, Florida, for their one-of-a-kind Waitākere Ranges inspired project for New Zealand’s largest litigation firm, MC.

Accommodating over 230 staff, MC’s workspace in Auckland City is the first of its kind in New Zealand reflecting the firm’s bold and holistic commitment to staff wellbeing by including a living terrarium – featuring an abundance of plants carefully arranged to simulate a bush walking experience.

Located at the heart of the workspace, the 700sqm terrarium provides staff with a space for contemplation, meeting for informal conversation, and to experience the calming and restorative effects of being immersed in nature throughout the working day.

Biophilic design principles have been used throughout the terrarium and workplace with the aim of reducing stress, enhancing wellbeing, and increasing motivation and creativity through connection to the natural environment.

Biophilic design principles reflect humankind’s fundamental connection to the natural world, and the Biophilic Design Awards are presented to those who embrace the patterns of nature to create spaces that provide a strong connection to the outdoors.

Ryan McQuerry, creative director at Outside In, says the organisation is humbled to receive the award alongside Jasmax. “We love being a part of creating spaces that will improve the way people work, the way they interact with others and the way they feel physically, mentally, and emotionally. We hope that more and more businesses see the benefits of biophilic design and adopt it for the welfare of their employees and clients.”

Drawing on holistic biophilic design principles, Jasmax’s unique concept was inspired by the Waitākere Ranges, which Outside In brought to life through the creation of a completely bespoke growing medium called Forest Floor – the first of its kind in New Zealand. Made up of a combination of materials created offsite and pieced together on-site, Forest Floor met the strict weight loading requirements of the building and was modular in order to be easily moved into place.

The sensory experience within the terrarium has also been enhanced by a change in environmental conditions; specifically, the ratio of oxygen in the air is artificially increased, the air is cooler, the lighting is subdued to replicate being beneath a tree canopy and sounds of the forest and New Zealand birdsong is played to provide a replication of the natural world.

The project was commended for its balance of direct and indirect connections to nature. In presenting the award to Outside In and Jasmax, the Biophilic Design Awards jury stated that the project epitomised the idea of Biophilic Design while standing head and shoulders above the rest and how it incorporated the concept into the build environment.