GSK Asia House’s Biophilic Office Design
Headquarters that are made to symbolize the things their companies stand for are usually created to make a statement. The companies behind them are in business for more than just the money — they really believe in the products they have to offer. At GlaxoSmithKline’s Asian headquarters in Singapore, the building is a symbol of the company’s workplace efficiency, as pushed for by experts who specialize in ergonomics and their preference for biophilic office design.
As human beings, we already feel a deep connection to nature. Biophilic office design just capitalizes on that connection to boost the health of all workers. On top of that, it also reduces heart rate, stress, bacteria levels, dust, and absenteeism. For those reasons, it seems like GSK Asia House is just the type of regional headquarters that you’d expect from a pharmaceutical company.
Employees make up the backbone of every successful company. In this case, the employees wanted a free-flowing space on a campus-like scale, despite all the recent criticism surrounding open-plan offices. The resulting building is essentially made up of one large atrium, with the main entrance topped by a six-story-high glass façade to allow natural light to shine deep into the offices. The ground floor is open to the public to encourage interaction with GSK’s Shopper Science Lab, which gathers insight about consumer preferences within the Asian market.
The project’s architects, HASSELL, wanted the office to feel like it was in a park, which is exactly why they went for a biophilic design, in which plants act as furnishings, decorations, art, and healthy additions. The building is already located in Rochester Park (which itself is located in Singapore’s One North business hub), so the greenery within feels more like a continuation than anything else. Each floor was planned out in a horseshoe shape, with 15 types of workstations, interaction spaces, meeting rooms, a gym, and a café per story. Above all else, GSK Asia House is supposed to encourage cross-functional communication and multi-level collaboration.
“In building our new regional headquarters…we aim to create a more agile, high performing, and sustainable business in Asia, with the very best talent,” said Emma Walmsley, CEO of GSK, at the new HQ’s opening in 2017.
It’s refreshing to see a company working out of a building that truly represents what they are all about. Healthcare as an industry, and pharmaceuticals in particular, can sometimes seem like such opaque worlds that consumers and patients have a hard time demystifying the reality behind them. Things like the price of drugs, the manufacturing standards of different medications, and all the different health insurances involved can leave the average person feeling intimidated. Healthcare is a business for which we are all customers, including the employees of pharmaceutical companies. GSK’s hope is that an office with a biophilic design will make for a healthier and more energetic workforce, which in turn will make for a healthier and happier consumer base in Asia.