“The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between how nature works and the way people think”— Gregory Bateson
Population growth has been exponential, and our cities have no space to accommodate them. The responsibility of designers and planners comes into play here to understand the requirements to help design spaces accordingly. Biophilic design is one such approach that takes nature as part of the design. It is a sustainable approach that incorporates natural light, materials, nature views, vegetation, and other natural elements around the modern built environment. This concept emerged to reduce the gap between nature and man.
Many countries have started adopting the techniques and principles of biophilic design, bringing good results in the long run. Though the concept may be new in terms of its name, it has existed since ancient times. By adopting a biophilic design, we can reduce the carbon footprint produced by man drastically.
Bringing in sustainability and resilience
Stephen R.Kellert, Professor Emeritus of Yale University, sees a disconnect between nature and the current designs. We have started to live in boxes made of artificial materials with minimal contact with nature. The founding chairman of the U.S. Green Building Council proposed that the future of great design is biophilic. He further writes, “when nature inspires our architecture – not just how it looks but how buildings and communities function, we will have made great strides as a society.”
Kellert also emphasizes that the amalgamation of low-impact design, with biophilic design principles, imitates nature and will become the design standard for our present and the future.
“Biophilic design recognizes that nature contributes to our well-being, helping our productivity and creativity.”— Janine Benyus
Every design project varies in its requirements and seeks special attention to detail. Designers have started to apply the principles and patterns of biophilic design into their practice, resulting in a sustainable and very nature-friendly approach. This approach seeks to repair the relationship between nature and humanity.
Reducing human carbon footprint
With the population rise, there is a high demand for housing. Biophilic design is attached with various components when it comes to building designs. Building materials factor into this section which determines the amount of energy used in the construction industry.
For instance, the VOC content of a fabric carpet versus a laminated wooden flooring varies, and the rating that a building avails depends on them. With the help of using natural materials like stone flooring, exposed bricks, and other materials that only involve minimal processing, we can lower the carbon footprint on this earth.
Biophilic Cities: Build Social Capital and Trust
Biophilic cities provide close and daily contact with nature and nearby nature, fostering awareness and care for this nature. People who live in green spaces experience better lifestyles and have a lower mortality rate. Cities and urban environments that contain green assets from parks to trees to rivers and other green elements bring closeness in people and allow them to experience life better.
Furthermore, green features, such as green rooftops, balcony gardens, flower beds, planters along the building edges, give way to better oxygen levels, improve lifestyle, and ultimately help people live longer. Humans are rooted in nature irrespective of the city they are dwelling in. The craving for having greenery around them starts from childhood while we all play outdoors, and the bond becomes more robust over time. The physical connection with nature helps strengthen the commitment to a place. It also holds some sentimental value for a person.
Urbanism is essential, and it must happen at different scales for us to experience spaces. Homes, streets, neighborhoods, and cities are various scales at which one can engage with the biophilic design, which is termed biophilic urbanism. It is slowly gaining popularity amongst the design fraternity and has started implementing programs, bringing policy changes, and enabling the betterment of cities.
Light, air, water, fire, plants, use of various materials, and space is the elements of nature; each has their benefits when incorporated into the design of a place. Forests, gardens, balconies with plants, courtyards inside the house help bring greenery in and around us. The lung spaces of our cities contribute to a large amount of oxygen generation and help create a micro-climate within the space. On a larger scale, it also helps preserve forest covers and other lung spaces of a city.
The greener future
Due to global warming and the water crisis, the Earth has lost many species. It continues to fail them even today, and we are unaware of the extinction rate. With the help of biophilic design, we can undoubtedly provide a natural environment for birds, animals, and other underwater creatures. This has excellent ecological benefits.
The year of the pandemic has given us a chance to witness that effect. We all observed clear skies and stars; noise reduction made it possible for us to hear birds chirping. Humans need to keep in mind the impact and follow the principles of biophilia to help benefit our lives — not only for now but for future generations to come.
“Low environmental impact and biophilic design are the complementary components of restorative environmental design. Combined, they represent the promise of development that can help heal the prevailing malaise of modern society in adversarial relation to the natural world.”— Stephen R.Kellert