During the various lockdowns of the Covid-19 pandemic, we took the opportunity to be creatively productive and transform our office garden which much like everything else was affected by the absence of office life.
The idea behind the refurbishment of the office garden emerged as part of the goals and initiatives established in the One Planet Living framework.
One Planet Living framework is a wonderful initiative that was adopted by Willmore Iles to play our role in protecting the environment and using the Earth’s resources more wisely. Climate change is the biggest single challenge facing our planet and at WIA we believe that we must think globally but act locally to address it.
By implementing the Office Garden refurbishment, we are hoping to:
We began our garden refurbishment journey in September last year by organising an office wide workshop where we gathered ideas and discussed what people would like to see in the garden and how they would like to use it more.
The workshop took place online as we were in the middle of the lockdown and were unable to meet in person. The Covid-19 pandemic played an important role in bringing this project forward- we recognised the importance of wellbeing and being able to meet safely in these difficult times and the garden seemed like a great space where we could do this. We embarked on this journey with an aim to create a beautiful garden that would bring us together again.
The garden is located to the back of the offices, hidden away from the busy Hotwell Road, in a quiet residential courtyard, surrounded by a tall brick wall, which provides privacy and peace. The garden is located on the southerly side and is sunlit most of the day.
The office garden is roughly 5.5m x 6.2m and is located on two levels: the higher decked area was used as a seating area and provided space to the bin stores, while the lower area was used for storing the bicycles.
Our vision for the garden was to create a cosy area, where team members would be able to enjoy their lunch break or have a meeting with a client in a beautiful garden setting. We were keen to keep the existing office bike shed as it is highly used by the WIA members, however it required the roofing to be repaired. Adequate space for the bin stores was also necessary and we decided to have these concealed in a timber store with a sedum roof, which would blend nicely with the rest of the garden. The construction strategy was to use recycled palette wood and scaffolding from the local wood workshop. We were keen to implement the principles of biophilia through the use of natural materials and visual connection to nature.
Following necessary preparation work and coordination at last, in the spring of 2021 we began with clearing and undertaking some repairing works in the garden, removing the debris and repurposing unused items. Once the preparation works were completed, the working group began the phase 1 of the garden, which involved construction of the seating area and the planters on the higher level of the garden. It was important for us to be involved in the construction process as after a long time spent in isolation in our homes it was a great way to reconnect and be engaged in the hands-on work, known to be a good way of reducing stress.
Urban green spaces are vital for both people and the environment. They have been found to boost human well-being, reduce stress and negative emotions, increase happiness and social interactions. Being in green environments has also proven to boost various aspects of thinking, including attention, memory and creativity.
Urban vegetation can also benefit people’s physical health by absorbing harmful airborne particulates and other pollutants produced by fossil fuel-powered transport and industry, as well as mitigating noise pollution, which causes stress and sleep disturbance while also supporting biodiversity in cities
We really hope our office garden will not only be a safe haven for WIA members and guests but also an asset to local biodiversity and wildlife
Following the recent completion of phase 1 of the garden, we are excited to see the WIA members gathering outside to enjoy the lovely weather, to take their lunch breaks and being able to talk to each other face to face in a beautiful and relaxing setting.
We are looking forward to the next stages of the works to begin shortly and to see the garden completed very soon