The Importance of Outdoor Spaces in Commercial Developments

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Why Commercial Developments Should Incorporate an Outdoor Space

The importance of outdoor space is often overlooked in commercial development where space is at a premium. But creating outdoor space is actually a great investment as research demonstrates a worker who spends their entire day behind a desk can impact their physical and mental health. Offices or commercial premises that offer an outdoor space offer benefits such as; increased productivity, improvement in memory and better interaction with colleagues. This does not only support an employee-centric company but would most likely lead to a lower turnover of staff while attracting more employees to join the business.

Cortisol levels (chemicals of stress) increase considerably if a day was spent under artificial lighting, resulting in high levels of stress and anxiety. Natural light does wonders for our morale and mood.

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Even a small outdoor space can add that extra element to a commercial development. For instance, IQ Projects worked on this contemporary architectural build on Borough High Street. Up on the roof, hidden behind a Corten clad roof extension, an outdoor roof terrace was created offering office workers outdoor spaces for breaks or outdoor meetings.

IQ Projects was involved in the design and installation of the sustainable structural glazing and slim framed sliding glass doors to the outdoor area, dramatically increasing daylight into the building.

Thanks to the large elevations of glass the building offers a fantastic view of the surrounding London Skyline even when the glass doors are shut. The natural light ingress afforded by such high specification glazing bathes the office with light and colour improving the productivity, boosting energy throughout the day and stimulates happiness around the office.

So even if employees can’t find the time to spend outdoors during the day, they can still view the outside world through the glass window, reaping a substantial amount of health benefits.

“Buildings and urban spaces should be designed first and foremost around their occupants,” says Dr Sergio Altomonte, architect and associate professor in the department of architecture and built environment at the Nottingham University. “The importance of architecture as a trigger to physical, physiological and psychological wellbeing is nowadays becoming a topic of significant relevance.”

Creating a change of Scenery in a piece of Architecture

Having access to an external space is important for employee wellbeing and office developments that offer external recreation areas are able to demand a much higher price than their neighbours. But in the UK (with our unpredictable weather and rainy summers) the amount of time that outdoor space can be utilised is minimal.

That is why architects and developers are investigating new and innovative ways to create external environments that can be utilised no matter the weather. An automated pergola or louvre roof system can help create an outdoor space that is protected from the elements.

Nomo Retractable Patio Roof

For example, the Nomo Rialto awning roof is a slim aluminium structure with an integrated awning that fully retracts automatically. When the awning is closed the roof is fully watertight. When the awning is open you expose and connect that external environment to the sky.

For a more continental design, a louvre roof system could be chosen instead. These can be seen on commercial developments all over Italy, Spain, Portugal and France to provide both solar shadings to glazing and create protected outdoor areas. For the UK market, they are especially interesting due to their ability to create a fully watertight roof when the louvres are closed.

Vision 5

The Umbris Louvre Roof is an aluminium structure and is fully tested to be watertight for up to 144mm of rain per minute. Due to the lightweight construction, it is easily able to be built onto rooftop structures and could even be retrofit onto a development.

As with all patio roof solutions you can add more weather protection into the structure with sliding glass doors or vertical blinds around the external faces.

Frameless structural glass shelter

For something a little more bespoke have a look at the custom structural glass shelter that IQ created for a commercial development in Richmond. The frameless structural glass shelter creates a small outdoor break area that is protected from rain and showers whilst not diminishing the existing architecture of the two surrounding buildings. The outdoor area is perfectly located beside a calming water feature for office workers to enjoy whilst outside.

The purpose of these roof structures is to create external spaces that can be utilised throughout the year. As Dr Sergio Altomonte says “architecture should be built around the occupants and what will make their lives more enjoyable. What is the point in carving out an external area in a tight development that is never used?”

If you would like any further information or would like to visit the showroom to see the roofs in person then please contact the team at IQ Projects by giving us a call on +44(0)1494 722 880 or email

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Rebecca is Head of Marketing at the IQ Group and has worked in glazing specification for many years. She has a broad range of technical knowledge about all our glazing products and offers technical advice and guidance to architects for specification. Her easy to digest technical advice is often quoted in magazines and publications. You might also recognise her as one of the IQ Glass CPD presenters.
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