In today’s rapidly growing world, we often tend to forget what is around us. We are surrounded by so much advancing technology that in a way, we are losing touch with the environment around us — something that they could call our own. This fast-tracked life of ours has left us desensitized, which is all the more reason we need to learn to adopt biophilic design into our everyday lives.

Connect to nature

Biophilia is synonymous with nature. The word means life, and philic means something that has its affinity to. The term was initially made popular in the 1980s by a popular scholar Edward O.Wilson. In his paper on the Biophilia Hypothesis, he talks about how ultimately, humans have a tendency to move toward nature and be one with it.

Dr. Edward O. Wilson biophilia
Image via Achievement.org

This idea of biophilia has been gaining quite a lot of traction in the design world, specifically architectural and interior, as more designers are trying to help us connect with nature. Through ample natural light, natural ventilation, and open space planning, we can achieve effective cross ventilation and thereby view more landscape features of the outside world. Back in the past, we made use of this. However, as time progressed and civilization built itself within concrete jungles, we let little to no room to breathe.

Psychologically, the space we use has a lot of effect on us as human beings. Not only does the space we’re encased in allow us to improve our mental health, but it also helps to increase life expectancy. Though the word has been coined recently, the concept of biophilic design can be seen as far back as the ancient times of the Gardens of Babylon.

Elements of nature in design

When we feel good, we are able to do more. In architecture and interior design, a response to the surroundings, energy efficiency and material usage result in shaping this kind of environment for this feeling.

On a day-to-day basis, we stay indoors. The pandemic has only perpetuated this as a norm. More than ever before, spaces have to be conducive in order for us to be efficient and productive. Light, air, water, fire, plants, and space are elements of nature, and each has their own benefits when incorporated into the design of a place. These elements can help enhancing the workplace. We take a look at some of the ways we can do this below:

natural light biophilic design
  1. Bring light into our space — Light has a natural quality of brightening up someone’s day. Vitamin D of sunlight has its health benefits, apart from the quality of space that it can render. The kind of openings that are designed in a space can bring in various kinds of light into space. The creation of light and shadow has a positive impact on one’s mind and the change of the light quality can have a soothing rhythmic change, enhancing visual comfort throughout the day. This can be brought about by bringing natural views to the outdoor spaces, which bridges the gap between the two.
  1. Large windows create effective cross-ventilation — Feeling a breeze of the air while you are at your office desk or home office is surely a feel-good factor. This is another important factor of biophilic design where natural cross-ventilation creates a positive and refreshing impact on people. The brisk breeze helps to soothe our minds.
  1. Water’s soothing effect — Architects and designers from various parts of the world have concentrated their design around water. The spaces that revolve around water help to create harmony and visual-auditory peace. This has scientific evidence that shows that even listening to water can alleviate our minds.
  1. Fire brings warmth into space — The heating element from nature brings richness and warmth into space. The temperature generated by a fire can induce a positive feeling as many cultures believe that fire is a sign of positivity.
  1. Presence of indoor plants — Incorporating indoor plants and bridging spaces such as courtyards, verandahs, galleries, green walls, etc, bring nature into the interiors. Having a blend of colorful floral patterns and plants of different varieties stimulates our visual and olfactory senses. 
indoor plants biophilic design
  1. Use of natural materials — Stone flooring, wooden flooring, and brick paving are a few materials that fit into the natural material bracket. These give a sense of connection to our earth which brings in a sense of spirituality in a space.   
  1. Bright colors — Using bright colors to stimulate workers and promote creative working. For example, red is associated with an increase in cognitive focus, while green and blue enhances creativity.

Biophilic design and productivity

Performance and happiness are dependent on biophilic design, more than people know. Biophilia — or being in nature — has an overall positive impact on the performance of people across the world. Of course, there are considerations such as cultural differences when designing habitable spaces, but for the most part, incorporating biophilic design can drastically help to improve productivity.

indoor biophilic design

Multi-sensory stimuli through this design should be the aim as it is most effective in reaching people. When people can hear and smell nature, in addition to seeing it, the positive effects are greater. Smelling various plants, hearing the sound of flowing water, and feeling the airflow are some of the ways to do so. Biophilic design among the essentials of design brings about psychological well-being in terms of sense of purpose and generates positive emotions.

A more sustainable future

Environments with elements of nature are therefore more beneficial to the individual. The impact of nature-based experiences on our cognitive abilities cannot be disregarded, especially moving forward from the post-pandemic world.

With the sensibilities of architects increasing these days, many are opting for nature inclusive designs in their practice. This will not only solve the man-made problems in the past few decades but also aid in achieving sustainable habitable spaces. These design principles can help to improve the physiological and psychological health of people and increase their productivity.

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