What is Biophilic design?

Core features of biophilic design

  • Visual Connection with Nature: A view to elements of nature, living systems and natural processes.

  • Non-Visual Connection with Nature: Auditory, haptic, olfactory, or gustatory stimuli that result in a deliberate and positive reference to nature, living systems or natural processes.

  • Natural and Local Materials: Materials and elements from nature that, through minimal processing, reflect the local ecology or geology and create a distinct sense of place.

  • Thermal & Airflow Variability: Subtle changes in air temperature, relative humidity, airflow across the skin, and surface temperatures that mimic natural environments.

  • Presence of Water: Can be achieved through water features like fountains, ponds, etc. Both the view of the water and the muted sounds from water help people feel more connected to nature through water features.

  • Dynamic & Diffuse Light: Varying intensities of light and shadow that change over time to create conditions that occur in nature.

  • Connection with Natural Systems: Anything that connects the indoors to the outdoors falls under this. Awareness of natural processes, especially seasonal and temporal changes are characteristic of a healthy ecosystem.

The definition of the word Biophilia is simply: an innate love for the natural.

The term was first popularized in 1984 when biologist Edward O. Wilson published Biophilia. Since then, the concept has spread through the architecture and design communities, driving creators of large-scale commercial projects and public spaces toward a more seamless integration between nature and the built environment. Biophilia is a ‘love of life and living systems.’ It’s our inherent human connection to the natural world. In an urban built world with technology and industrial architecture, this fundamental connection can sometimes feel lost. Biophilic design is an innovative way to harness this affinity in order to create natural environments for us to live, work and learn. By consciously including nature in interior or architectural design, we are unconsciously reconnecting, bringing life-giving outdoors into our constructed world.

Even simple changes to incorporate nature into our spaces can have a huge impact on how we feel where we work, live, learn, and heal. From workplaces and hospitals to urban living spaces and schools, studies have shown that adding biophilic elements to interiors can reduce stress, blood pressure and heart rates—while increasing productivity, creativity and overall well-being.

Benefits of biophilic design

  • Reduced employee absenteeism

  • Improved health

  • Increased mood and feeling of well-being

  • Improved productivity

  • Increased employee engagement

  • Reduced stress levels

  • Mental restoration & reduced fatigue

Natural light, vegetation, living walls, natural textures and materials and nature views will provide a positive impact. With research and academic inquiry on the rise, it appears as though the incoming results have been profound enough to warrant a new level of interest and excitement from leading research institutions and businesses. As employers continue to become more aware of the scientific research, the mental and physical benefits to their workforce and the growth of their bottom line due to sustainability and increased performance, the more important biophilia will become in today’s world.

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