The Aerie: An innovative way for wellbeing restoration in an open-plan workplace

Sukanlaya Sawang, Mirko Guaralda, Marianella Chamorro-Koc, Veronica Garcia Hansen, Glenda Amayo Caldwell, Richard Medland, Nigar Khawaja, Margaret Petty

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceedingpeer-review


The increasingly recurrent open-plan design of modern workplaces leads to a t lack of privacy and provides limited opportunities for individuals to find spaces for refocusing. Open-plan offices can thus impact ones' performance due to long term exposure to external noises, aggressive conversation or frequent interruption by others. The purpose of this paper is to explore wellbeing in the context of open-plan workplaces from an environmental interaction point of view through a transdisciplinary approach. The ultimate goal is to propose a solution for to facilitate office workers' emotional recovery and wellbeing while in the workplace. More specifically, our study proposes a developmental concept of the ``Aerie'', a bespoke portable and collapsible structure that can be empirical tested in different workplace areas. Its modular design accommodates a range of interactive technologies aiming to improve and maintain personal wellbeing in workplace with minimal lose in working time or productivity. A preliminary literature review has provided some cues about features of an ideal regenerative space; drawing from this existing knowledge, we have developed a conceptual space to test participants' response to a combination of these features. The aim of this experiment was to evaluate which combination of features could calm individuals through a multi - sensory experience combined with a guided relaxation exercise. Findings from this pilot projects have provided an insight in the design of the ``Aerie''. Out of 38 participants, the majority reported that blue/purple lights and rain as white noise were very relaxing features. The mindfulness mediation audio was also well received. Most participants preferred to sit in a small cosy space (such as a corner or bean bags), rather than larger more exposed arrangements, for example chair or sitting-ball. Drawing from these findings, an initial prototype of Aerie was developed; this will be displayed at the Wellbeing conference to demonstrate the principle and verify its feasibility. In the next stage of the project, a working prototype of the Aerie will be built.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWell-Being 2016: Co-Creating Pathways to Well-being
EditorsRichard Coles, Sandra Costa, Sharon Watson
Place of PublicationBirmingham, UK
PublisherBirmingham City University
Number of pages4
ISBN (Print)978-1-904839-87-3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2016


  • Innovation, Wellbeing, Open-plan office, Employee, Sanctuary


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