“Biophilic design must nurture a love of the place.”

We as humans are trying to find a balance between emerging technology, the depleting green covering our planet, and the day-to-day hustle of our lives. Biophilic design gives us the freedom to experience nature around us and connect with what is naturally a part of all of us.

Human nature is to be sensitive and responsive to the surroundings. With the help of biophilic design, we can bring back a balanced lifestyle. For a long time, man has tried to incorporate nature into his habitable space. In architecture and interior design, there are two kinds of spaces — the exterior and interior. The intermediate space between the two becomes the crux of introducing a biophilic design.

“…Biophilia is not a single instinct but a complex of learning rules that can be teased apart and analyzed individually. The feelings molded by the learning rules fall along several emotional spectra: from attraction to aversion, from awe to indifference, from peacefulness to fear-driven anxiety.”

— Edward O. Wilson, 1993 (Biophilia and the Conservation Ethic, The Biophilia Hypothesis)

Researchers have identified six principles, and with the help of these, architects and designers today can incorporate them in their design. Whether for the interior or exterior space, using these principles can help construct a better, more fluid space that is closer to nature.

man made space biophilic design

Principle 1) Environmental features

Using well-recognized natural world characteristics, the first principle is all about bringing about multisensory interactions with the space around you. These interactions can range from thermal, visual, olfactory, haptic, and any other clear and distinct natural presence.

The introduction of green spaces within habitable space adds color, texture, and a sense of visual calmness. We have often kept indoor plants on our office desks to make our work environment lively. This on a larger scale can be looked at as courtyards or green walls within build environments. Biophilic design requires repeated and sustained engagement with nature. The presence of water enhances the experience of seeing, hearing, and touching, with elements like fountains, pools, ponds, and water jets.

environment biophilic design

Principle 2) Natural patterns and processes

The second principle is focused on sensory experience with transitions and complementary contrasts. Any space is deemed successful and sustainable with the application of biophilia. Various sensory experiences can be brought about to help lower one’s blood pressure, elevate a person’s mood, and improve overall health.

With the use of different materials, colors, and textures, tactile and visual feelings can be evoked. In terms of design principles, the variation of color and its transition from one space to the other can impact the mind, where blue and green can be associated with calmness and red and orange with vibrancy. These contrasts engage a person subconsciously, even going as far as improving productivity.

Principle 3) Light and space

This is where we focus on using light and space to evoke a desired human reaction. Light and shadow have 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. For example, the shadows created by openings, pergolas, and skylights and the dynamism in the intensity of light bring about an opportunity to create a warm setting. Light brings warmth into space and heat. It can help regulate the indoor temperature. These ideas are some which mimic the natural environments.

light and space biophilic design

Diurnal and seasonal light, moonlight and starlight, bioluminescence are all naturally occurring phenomena. While accent lighting, circadian color reference (white light during the day and lack of blue light at night) are some man-made ideas for simulated light in space.

Principle 4) Place-based relationships

This principle involves designing with the cultural, spiritual, ecological, or historical relationship in mind. Mind-body relationships have been studied for ages and scientists, researchers, and spiritual guides have often referred to a tangible space as an important component in one’s life for their growth.

place based relationship biophilic design

Principle 5) Evolved human-nature relationships

Environmentalism can be broadly defined as an ideology or social movement. It focuses on fundamental environmental concerns. In biophilic design, the human-nature relationship has been explored through natural resource extraction and preventing environmental hazards in habitat management and restoration. All architecture and interior design should be done with the environment in mind, putting the relationship with man and nature at top priority.

nature relationships biophilic design

Principle 6) Natural shapes and forms

Biomorphic forms and patterns are symbolic references from nature that can be applied in biophilic design. Naturally occurring contours, textures, patterns, or numerical arrangements from nature are beautiful on their own. To have a deep human-nature relationship with these inherently natural shapes and signs is innately rewarding.

Natural materials and elements that, with minimal processing, reflect the local geology and ecology can create a unique sense of place. Japanese garden designs are the best examples of this being done beautifully.

japanese garden biophilic design
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