SelgasCano's Office Design Offers a Fresh Approach to Employee Wellbeing

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Once purely thought of as ‘trendy’ or a fad, workplace wellbeing is something that employers are now making a major part of their business strategy. Considering that poor employee mental health cost UK employers upwards of £40 billion last year, it’s easy to see why.  

Typing in ‘office designs that promote wellbeing’ into Google, you’re inundated with trendy offices boasting open-plan layouts, collaboration spaces and ping-pong tables. And whilst this is definitely a huge step from pre-2000s desk cubicles, for someone with social anxiety disorder for example, the idea of a space set up to promote employee interaction is far from progressive.   

Whilst I’m not saying an employee’s sense of wellbeing is solely reliant on office design – company culture plays a huge part – I think it’s safe to say that poor office design can have a negative impact on an already-struggling employee.

So as yesterday was World Mental Health Day, we thought we’d share with you an office building that approaches the concept of employee wellbeing differently: the SelgasCano office in Madrid. Instead of fancy espresso machines, beanbag areas and football tables, this office has been designed to complement natural human senses and satisfy our innate thirst for the outdoors. 

Designed by Spanish architects Jose Selgas and Lucia Cano of SelgasCano, this stunning office blends seamlessly into a Madrid woodland. Taking the shape of an aerodynamic tube, a glass wall spans the entire length of the office – flooding the office with light and eliminating the need for artificial lighting during the day. Not only does the natural sunlight prevent conditions like Seasonal Affective Disorder, the reduction in artificial lighting makes the chance of adverse physical and mental effects less likely.


Desks are aligned with the glass and placed level with the forest floor – allowing employees to work alongside wildlife and feel immersed within the shifting landscape. The weather sets the pace and tone for the employees at SelgasCano, and every working day looks different.

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The window is attached to a mechanism that allows varying degrees of natural ventilation, whilst the other half is made from a 110mm thick fibreglass wall that shades employees from direct sunlight. And as the office has been submerged within the ground – an ancient insulation technique – employees benefit from natural climate control.

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I can’t imagine an office I’d rather spend time in. What are your thoughts? Do you think designs like this could make an impact on employee wellbeing? Leave comments below.

Photos by Iwan Baan.