It is no secret that green spaces are good for us. Getting out and about in nature does wonders for our emotional, mental and physical wellbeing.
Don’t believe us? OK, so here is the data, and there is a lot of it.
Even just viewing images or pictures of nature can have a positive impact on our mood, according to studies by Golding et al 2018; McMahan and Estes 2015) et al 2017. That means we don’t even necessarily have to venture outside into nature to benefit from it. That’s pretty powerful stuff right there.
Simply looking upon scenes from nature, either via an image or through a window, has also been proven to have a positive effect on helping us to calm down, and also even to be able to recover from stress-induced experiences. This was shown by Park et al 2010; Berto 2014; van den Berg et al 2015; Hunter et al 2019.
The data also shows we don’t need that much time outside in green spaces to really feel better from the experience. Anywhere from between 10 and 30 minutes in the quiet and calm of a green space has been found to reduce stress levels and create a more positive mood all day long.
The physical benefits are also well-known, with time spent in nature also having a positive impact on blood pressure and heart rate. There is also some evidence to suggest that being surrounded by green spaces, and especially living close to and around nature, inspires us to exercise more.
What this data also suggests is that by bringing the outdoors in we can derive many of the same benefits without necessarily stepping foot outside. Saying that, this isn’t something we would advocate - being outdoors is important for many reasons - but if we can take steps to bring some more of the outdoors into our indoor spaces, we can enjoy the benefits of nature, even when we can’t make it outdoors.
How do we bring the green inside?
So indoor plants are one way - whether it’s one that sits on your desk, or whether they are integrated into the design of the spaces we inhabit. Many plants thrive in indoor conditions, they just need to be watered from time to time.
One great way to bring more green inside is the concept of a green wall. This is what it sounds like - plants growing out of a wall, either in soil, stone or water. Very often they have in-built irrigation systems as well. They are their own self-sufficient ecosystems.
If a green wall sounds a tad ambitious, and we get that, remember even images of natural and green spaces can help lift your mood - so maybe hanging up some nature prints might lift the mood in the office or at home, just until you can get outside.
Taking greenery indoors to new heights
Some cities have begun to develop indoor natural environments and one country leading the way with this is the tiny state of Singapore. Singapore has greenery but it also has limited space - building indoor green spaces is one way to expand its spaces without scrambling for land it doesn’t have. They have developed a number of interesting, inspiring and frankly super green spaces either inside buildings, or on the top of them, and sometimes on the side also.
As a global financial centre it makes sense that the city's banks are leading the way with the adoption of indoor green spaces. The Standard Chartered Building at 6 Battery Road has a large green wall known charmingly as ‘Rainforest Rhapsody.’ Home to 123 plant species, this award-winning wall is a delight for anyone who experiences it.
HSBC has also adopted a similar initiative by decorating their white walls with lines of greenery, partly from a desire to create a soothing and calm environment for those who work between its four walls.
Flying into Singapore and it is hard to miss, almost as soon as your plane touches down you will know that this is a city committed to bringing the outdoors in. How? Jewel Changi Airport is home to the world’s tallest indoor waterfall (yes, that is really a thing) and a great deal of greenery as well. Still processing the idea of an indoor waterfall? The Shiseido Forest Valley will blow your mind - its home within the airport includes over 900 trees and palms, as well as over 60,000 shrubs collected from around the world. The airport doesn’t stop there however, and it also includes the Canopy Park with its flower gardens and pretty ponds. To say that Changi airport does green indoors better than anyone is something of an understatement, they do it exceedingly better than anyone else.
Pretty much anywhere you go in Singapore you are bound to run into an indoor green space. Many of its shopping centres are also home to green walls and rooftop gardens. One of the most inspiring is the rooftop urban farm, the carefully tended initiative from Edible Garden City. Their mission is to inspire and grow the grow-your-own-food movement in Singapore, and to do that their family on the 7th floor of the Funan shopping centre is home to 5 types of fruits and vegetables. Their farm is open to the public and provides educational tours and activities via the mall. Combining shopping with the benefits of nature never got better, and easier to achieve.
There is no limit to the extent to which we can develop green spaces inside. From green, growing walls to entire forests and farms indoors, or on the top of the buildings - the sky is literally the limit. Many of these grand spaces are beyond the scope of many of us and the buildings we inhabit - but the data shows that even an image of nature, or more indoor plants can help us derive all of the benefits of nature, just until we can make it outside for real.
At Vonder we believe strongly in the power of green spaces - be they indoors or outdoors - our evolved approach to co-living focuses on building living spaces and communities that matter.