Biophilic design is an approach in architecture that seeks to connect building occupants closer to nature. Buildings that incorporate biophilic design tend to include natural lighting, ventilation, natural landscape features, etc. This helps to contribute to a healthier, happier environment directly. 

Biophilic design improves physiological and psychological health, which is especially important as most Americans spend an average of 90% of the day indoors. Bill Browning, the founder of Terrapin Bright Green, a sustainability consulting firm, breaks down the concept into three distinct categories: six principles of biophilic design.

Increased employee engagement

Biophilic design in the workplace has been shown to increase creativity and reduce absenteeism by increasing patience level, productivity, and enthusiasm to be in the space. It has also been shown to improve patient recovery times in hospitals, reduce crime rates in residential areas, and increase learning ability and test results in schools.

employees laughing together

Designs that mimic natural settings and systems are linked to decrease stress levels and accelerate recovery levels. It also increases creativity. In workplaces, you can apply biophilic design tactics to achieve maximum efficiency from employees. 

People feel motivated to work in a place that’s inclusive of ample light and ventilation. Although work overturns personal likes/dislikes since it is fuel towards survival and sustenance, it might still be necessary to look at voluntary work/efforts that will fetch better results in terms of productivity. This clearly happens only if the workplace is inclusive and encouraging from all aspects. 

Considering multisensory aspects while designing reaps larger benefits from space. The natural stimuli and the artificial stimuli have the ability to induce positive changes in people. For example, having a waterbody along with a water wall can create pleasant visual and auditory effects.  

Improved health conditions

By now, people should have realized and also identified that our minds and bodies are tuned with nature and work optimally when we are closest to nature.

improved health flower

The increased number of diseases, whether mental illnesses like depression or something worse, can play a large part in having minimal contact with nature. Biophilic design invariably helps us take a step back and mandates its users to interact with nature. A lot of it comes from its implementation in the design of spaces. 

Health benefits such as lowered blood pressure, lowered heart rate, and memory restoration have been observed with water and green spaces. The presence of water especially has been proven to increase a feeling of tranquillity. Lighting a space with natural and artificial light also affects the circadian rhythm. Another important aspect is airflow in spaces which allows an increased sense of focus and improved performance.

Increased feeling of well-being

Mental wellbeing is a serious topic of discussion in modern society. Especially with the pandemic, there has been an increased spike in depression and anxiety. With the increased reliance on technology and modern science, people neglect the easiest form of therapy to our minds — plants and nature. Being indoors for too long a time with very little interaction with nature can play a huge part in this increased depression, which is all the more reason why biophilic design should be implemented into every home, whether it’s through home decor or architectural consideration.

improved health mood

Increased productivity

“Being nearby or having access to nature while at work helps elevate focus levels and make people happier.”

Human beings have an innate need to connect with nature and green spaces. Nature has a strange sense of randomness while conforming to design principles like symmetry, repetition, and balance. Experts suggest designers be mindful while incorporating vegetation of any kind. The right takeaway would be to have it all random and hint the user of a natural ecosystem. Regulating indoor temperature with the help of plants has also worked wonders on productivity.

Reduced stress levels

“Nature powerfully engages the mind with involuntary fascination, which helps to restore directed attention and focus. The result is effortless mindfulness that promotes stress reduction and renewal while also stimulating curiosity and imagination”

— Stephen Kaplan

A person experiences stress when there is something continuously picking at the brain. Nature is the easiest and closest option to alleviate those stresses. From something as simple as the sounds of the ocean to the fresh open space, nature can do wonders to reduce stress.

reduced stress nature

Mental and physical restoration

Natural environments help with recovery. As evident from countless studies, architectures and healthcare facilities understand the importance of incorporating biophilic design into hospital design. Humans as a species have a great affinity to natural forces; their stimuli responses swing between constructive and destructive emotions. Nature’s calming effect can truly help to reduce mental fatigue. Something as simple as fresh air and a tree shade can work like magic on an exhausted mind and body. 

“Mental health is indirectly affected by interferences in psychosocial processes by built environments. Psychosocial processes are a reference to human psychological aspects such as wellbeing, commitment, engagement, self-efficacy, self-esteem, belongingness, motivation, and satisfaction” 

The Built Environment and Mental Health
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