Biophilic Design: More Than A Trend, A Movement Bringing Nature Into Design
Biophilic design is a new wave of sustainable architecture and interior design that has been widely adopted in recent years because it is beneficial for both people and the environment. The concept of biophilic design began in Japan in the mid-1980s and over the past 20 years has spread throughout the world. Biophilic design is practiced by architects, designers, planners, engineers and landscape architects with the goal to incorporate ecosystem services into buildings, curating nature for occupants to engage with and enjoy. It is the future of design for us to live more sustainably and be more connected with our climate and environment. The good news is, everyone can introduce Biophilic design into their home or workplace with a few easy additions. In this blog we’ll explain what Biophilic design is and some easy ways to adopt this way of living in your space.
What Is Biophilic Design?
Biophilic design is a term coined by Dr. Roger Ulrich, a pioneer in the field of environmental psychology. It is the study of how humans respond to their environment, with an emphasis on nature and natural systems. Used for both residential and city-scale projects, it is argued that this idea has health, environmental, and economic benefits for building occupants and urban environments, with few drawbacks.
The word biophilia comes from the same root as “bios,” meaning life. Biophilic design is not just about adding plants and natural elements to improve aesthetics; it’s about creating spaces that are good for people’s physical and mental health, because they provide opportunities for our brains to power down and relax while we’re at work or school, or otherwise engaged in our daily lives. It creates a climate connection between us and our environment encompassing a sense of peace, which is why we’re all for it. We strongly believe that reconnecting with our natural environment is the way of the future to build healthier cleaner cities and social environments.
The World Health Organization has found that natural environments have a positive effect on health and wellbeing. Research has also shown that exposure to nature can reduce stress levels, improve cognitive function, and boost creativity.
The benefits of Biophilic Design
The benefits of biophilic design are multifaceted. There are both environmental and economic benefits to this type of design, as well as health and wellness benefits for those who live in these spaces. Many believe that the biggest impact the concept has is it’s ability to build climate resilient cities that can withstand almost any environmental stress. According to Timothy Beatley, biophilic design will help cities better withstand stressors brought on by climatic and local environmental changes. He developed a framework for biophilic cities to better illustrate this, outlining the steps that may be taken to improve the resilience and sustainability of cities. There are three parts to this: The three components of biophilic urbanism are adaptive capacity, which describes how the community’s behaviours will adjust as a result of these physical changes, resilient outcomes, which describe what can happen if both of these processes are successful, and biophilic urbanism.
Many researchers have found common benefits to health from Biophilic design such as:
- Improved mental health
- Reduced stress
- A better immune system
- Improvements in focus and productivity
- Increase in physical activity
- Increased social connectedness
A simple walk outside in nature is enough to understand the restorative power of the natural environment, so it’s no wonder that a biophilic designed space makes such an impact on health and wellbeing. In a study by Peter Newman and Jana Soderlund researching the effects of biophilia on hospital patients they found that by increasing vista quality in hospital rooms depression and pain in patients is reduced, which in turn shortened hospital stays from 3.67 days to 2.6 days.
With the climate goals and climate action at the forefront of most governments’ minds it seems like a no-brainer that designing more green spaces in our cities will have a positive impact on our environment. More green space in cities reduces carbon emissions and helps to cool the urban heat island effect. More plants in urban areas also help clean the air reducing pollutants and reducing health risks. When it comes to sustainability and resilience, biophilic design is a great tool because it promotes natural resources and reduces the need for artificial heating and cooling. Excess greywater can be used to water plants and greenery; vegetative walls and roofs also decrease polluted water as the plants act as biofilters.
How you can incorporate Biophilic Design into your own space
Bring the outside in
One of the best ways to transform your space into a biophilic oasis is to add indoor plants, not just one or two but as many as you can to bring the outdoors inside. Strategically placing them for optimal sunlight and in an aesthetically pleasing way will have you reaping the benefits in no time. Another choice is to create a space outside (on a balcony or patio) and add some plants you can see from inside and enjoy sitting among for a moment of relaxation.
Make an Indoor/outdoor relaxation space
Another choice is to create a space outside (on a balcony or patio) and add some plants you can see from inside and enjoy sitting among for a moment of relaxation. Add some solar lights and an outdoor dining setting and it’s your new entertainment area or office lunch table.
Add a water feature
That’s right, water features aren’t just for outside they are a great asset to have in your home/workplace. Water features not only look and sound pleasant but the running water helps in regulating the humidity indoors and improves air quality. They also naturally help regulate the temperature. There are quite a few designs now of free standing water features so no need to plan a huge renovation to achieve the blissful ambience of a water feature, we found some great sites that sell them here and here.
With the world becoming more and more urbanized, with 70 percent of the world’s population living in cities, and 90 percent of people likely to be living in cities or urban areas by 2050, designers and governments have little choice but to be increasingly responsive to the needs of humans living in these highly populated areas. Biophilic design is trending but it’s more than a trend, it’s a movement, a way for our society to make real change in the way we live and make a positive impact on the environment and reconnect with the climate we live in.