Silence may be “golden”, but sound is the symphony that impacts all parts of life. Often underestimated, sound is the unsung hero of the sensory experience, holding the power to captivate, inspire, and connect us with one another. Its ability to impact people’s emotions, moods, and behaviors is profound, as it can spark reactions from listening to a loved one laugh or hearing the beginning of a favorite song. Specific sounds, such as ones from nature, are special in that they have the power to nurture our overall well-being. A pleasant environment surrounded by natural elements has the ability to reduce any negative feelings and stress while also lowering physical states such as blood pressure and heart rate1.
As brilliant as sound can be untouched, imagine if it could be artfully manipulated to create harmonious, enriching environments fostering mental and physical health. In places that breed unwanted sounds such as distracting background conversations or busy street noise, having purposefully curated audio can help mask any unpleasant sounds in order to increase comfortability within a given space. Sound has historically been leveraged for its influence on overall well-being, from the relaxing white noise generated from the gentle rustle of leaves or rhythmic waves crashing against the shore. In taking this one step further, spaces can be designed purposefully in relation to audio in order to promote stress reduction, relaxation, and emotion regulation. By harnessing the therapeutic qualities of sound, environments can be created to improve well-being by enhancing mindfulness and positively impacting the mood of people in physical spaces. In today’s modern work environment, sound can be masterfully manipulated to cultivate a mindful safe space in order to put the best work forward.
Sound can be used to create carefully crafted auditory environments––or soundscapes––which has the ability to enrich one’s experience in a physical space. Coupled with the idea of biophilic design, or the concept of intertwining human-centric experiences with nature in a given architectural space in order to promote health and productivity, nature-inspired sounds can be used to construct a place that evokes a sense of tranquility in response to indirect forms of nature2. Hearing the steady flow of water or birds chirping as they glide across a forest in a given space can make a place feel more calming just by the sound of it.
When biophilic design is imparted on a given setting, stress levels are seen to be lowered, motivation will increase, and creativity flourishes3. These sounds, reminiscent of the natural world, help to create an atmosphere needed for stress reduction and relaxation. The connection it derives from the natural world to those in an otherwise sterile environment offers peace and focus. For many stress-inductive places, biophilia offers a sanctuary for well-being.
What if we were able to bring these calming principles to high-stress environments like the workplace, where employees and employers alike work for tireless hours at a time in an enclosed place, typically filled with office chatter, printers whirring, and other unwanted distractions that have little to no means to tackle well-being in a work environment? Considering employees’ well-being is critical in promoting a healthy and motivated workforce. With the implementation of soundscapes, companies have the potential to positively impact their employees’ workplace experience through the creation of a more relaxed, stress-free space to work. Calming soundscapes can effectively be used to reduce stress levels and raise employee morale4. Through sound, organizations can establish their work spaces to promote mental well-being and facilitate stress reduction for employees.
Sound can be taken a step further by designing a three-dimensional auditory field that envelops the surrounding environment using soundscapes, effectively masking unwanted background noise and creating a more tranquil atmosphere for employees. To be completely immersed in the experience that soundscapes provide can significantly improve the physical work environment5. This is especially beneficial in open office layouts, where noise pollution can hinder concentration and productivity. By integrating ambient sounds and biophilic nature-inspired elements, soundscapes can mask intrusive noises and instead foster a serene and engaging atmosphere, allowing employees to work with increased motivation.
In terms of biophilic sound design, workplaces have the potential to become spaces for growth, stimulation, and focus. Using nature-based elements to design a space can enhance overall well-being in any particular setting. Spatial’s vast soundscape library offers a unique solution to integrate sound into biophilic design. Through the extensive content library filled with customizable soundscapes that feature a wide range of natural sounds meticulously captured from various ecosystems, workplaces can be transformed into tranquil retreats designed to enhance mindfulness, improve motivation, and positively impact the moods of all that enter the space.