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POSTED 01/2024

2022 Winner – Large

Outside In, NZ

When moving into their new build offices, the client wanted a space that would bring calm to a busy workplace. A high-profile office for 300 plus staff, they wanted to emulate the New Zealand forest experience.

To bring this vision to reality, we designed a unique new product, Forest Floor™ that naturally mimics the undulations, contours and look of the forest undergrowth.  The space features a temperature-controlled forest terrarium over 2 floors, greenscaping throughout all the office and collaboration spaces, as well as a cafe featuring extensive planting and moss walls.

To top it off, the entire office is 6 Green Star rated and Well Certified!

Inspiration came from the CEO who enjoys New Zealand’s remote forests and realised the calm and peace that this would bring to a busy workplace. Her vision was to re-create this atmosphere inside a CBD office environment. With a strong focus on staff wellbeing, the leadership team envisioned an indoor environment where their staff could take a break from their work and find a secluded nook of the terrarium forest to relax and be rejuvenated.

To produce the desired look, described as a life-sized terrarium, we needed to develop a new product. The Forest Floor™ is moulded in free form to emulate the natural shape of the native New Zealand forests. Each piece of the floor covering is uniquely different and has varying contours that give it a natural feel.

The Forest FloorTM contours are covered in preserved moss, mixed with natural tree mulch. These two products together perfectly mimic the NZ forest environment with decomposing tree matter and patches of moss under the trees. We used a variety of moss types which are true to life of the New Zealand Forest.

The entire project is in scale with the sizes/proportions of the building space. The terrarium has a ceiling height of 3.6m high and the larger trees in the space are near 3 metres tall. Above the canopy of trees, hang integrated plants that trail down from overhead. As one walks through the building there is an even balance of greenery throughout all the office spaces at varying heights so that greenery can be seen in proportion to the spaces it occupies. The Forest Floor™ is planted out in layers including canopy, sub-canopy and ground covers to accurately replicate the New Zealand Forest.

When the client asked for a product that flawlessly integrated the planting into the space, we had never seen this done before. The substrate needed to be lightweight and therefore could not be a soil-based product. We formed the floor shapes out of a lightweight concrete product to provide strength and the desired natural form, while remaining under the structural weight loading limits. We also needed to have a solid base that could be waterproof, so we fabricated each base plate out of aluminium. The entire concept is completely bespoke and a first of this type of project in New Zealand to date.

The Forest Floor pieces all had to be moved into the office space through a small, central elevator. So, we built out a puzzle like design of individual floor pieces that could all be made off-site and then moved into location and fixed together to create one seamless contour.

The space had less than ample light to sustain healthy plant growth with the variety of plants that were required to meet the clients’ brief.  We designed an intricate system of photosynthetic LED lights in ambient colour. This allowed us to use the same light for ambient lighting as well as healthy long-term plant growth. There are 222 photo synthetic grow lights installed throughout the terrarium space all specifically located to meet the lighting requirements for long-term plant health for each plant variety.

The terrarium spaces are fully enclosed, and temperature controlled. The temperature in this space is a few degrees cooler than the rest of the office space to emulate the feeling of walking into the cool, damp New Zealand Forest and to aid in the relaxing environment. This also reduces pest and disease and reduces our need for chemical pest controls.

The entire office is 6 Green Star rated and Well Certified. This means that all our servicing activities must meet a strict organic pest and disease management program. We have a specially tailored program to keep the plants happy and healthy without the use of chemicals. All the Forest Floor™ substrate is purpose built for a Service Technician to reach in to service plants without needing to step on the gardens. It has been built to be able to pull one individual plant in its back pot out of the substrate and replace with another plant effortlessly.

The plants are all potted into individual pots that will enable healthy growth for up to 10 years plus. We do not use a sub-irrigation system. All plants are double potted to allow for water to escape the grow pot but retain water from spilling out onto the floor. The plants are all potted into a specially designed planting mix that ensures long-term plant health and easy watering care. The plants are typically watered on a 2-weekly cycle.

We believe this project is a shining example of the best our industry can deliver.  The scale is enormous – close to 2,000 plants. 

The greenery has been integrated in a myriad of ways including hanging plants, wall mounted moss, and custom designed cable droppers with climber plants, a variety of pots and tambour planting, plus our customer Forest Floor™ in the atrium.

The technicality of the project was significant incorporating a fully enclosed, temperature-controlled atrium with hundreds of plants benefitting from speciality grow lights.  The overall design of this project is rich in biophilic design.  It emulates the natural experience from circadian lighting to birdsong in the atrium and all the natural materials used.

All of this has created a space that is currently seen as the benchmark for Architects in greenscaping design within New Zealand.

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POSTED 01/2024

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