The [Hopefully Clean] Air We Breathe


How much time do you spend inside? New research1 shows that city dwellers spend 90% of their time indoors, either at home, in the office or in vehicles. All this time spent indoors raises the question of indoor air quality and how that’s affecting our health. VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) are the major class of indoor pollutants, which are emitted into the air from building materials, furnishings, cleaning compounds and office equipment - all which have the highest emissions when they are new.


Current research shows that VOC’s have a wide-ranging effect on our health and wellbeing including eye and respiratory tract irritation, headaches, dizziness, visual disorders, memory impairment, asthma - some compounds are also carcinogens2. Fortunately, one of the easiest proven ways to combat VOC’s are potted plants, whose metabolic activities recycle and purify the air through soil microorganisms associated with the plant roots3.


For new and refurbished buildings, indoor plants not only look good but are a necessary element for improving air quality for workers. The newly designed and fit-out Generator office at Britomart Place is a great example of incorporating plants seamlessly into the building structure and office fixtures, so that by the time the building is fully occupied, the plants have already got to work cleaning the air and reducing VOC toxins.


Plants have been used extensively throughout Generators luxurious fit-out – a shared workspace which was designed with pure sophistication in mind. The building features multiple balconies, harbour views, private office suites, premium board rooms, flexible event spaces, members’ lounges and an onsite bar and café.


The planting scheme needed to be as equally elegant as the high-end fittings and furnishings. The hallmark feature is an impressive hanging garden in the executive lounge space from which over 220 plants hang from a custom-designed plant system mounted to the ceiling. A hooking system was designed so that as the plants grow down their foliage can be hooked up to create horizontal growth. Custom-designed lights fitted into the ceiling above the hanging garden mimic natural light so the plants can sustain healthy growth.


In addition to the hanging garden, the shared office space features Outside In’s brand new OrbitTM planters – a speciality plant stand that clamps onto either a desk or table and hold three moveable planters. Throughout the building StrataTM planters with bespoke brass adapter rings have been placed in layered groupings and the boardroom features a beautiful moss and preserved plant wall.


The balconies hold oversized outdoor planters in which a variety of fruiting trees and herbs have been planted – including limes and mint for Friday night mojitos, and the indoor bar boasts custom-designed suspended planter troughs.


The impact on air quality these plants have is significant. Laboratory studies3 show that potted-plants can reliably reduce total volatile organic compound loads by 75% and they work equally well with or without air-conditioning, and in light or dark – one very compelling reason to include plants in all our buildings.

To find out more about how plants can reduce the air toxins in your building or project while also making the space look amazing, please contact us.

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> Read next article on our latest product and Best Design Award finalist: the Plant Orbit...