Biophilic design is the next phase in the evolution of design trends, so what exactly is it? And why is it so important to our health and wellbeing?
Humans have an inherent inclination to live among nature that has increasingly been lost in the urbanised modern world.
The health benefits of spending time in nature are well known to all of us, but often that doesn’t fit into our daily lifestyle. Many of us spend the majority of our time in buildings or urban areas that lack any sort of resemblance to the natural world.
The increasing desire to get back to nature has led to the rise in popularity of biophilic design. Biophilic design incorporates nature into buildings and infrastructure, harnessing the environmental, economic and health benefits of nature inspired construction design.
Everywhere, builders and designers are looking to biophilic design to construct ‘Green Buildings’ that break the monotony of the urban landscape. Melbourne’s own metro tunnel is being constructed with biophilic design elements in mind.
The Elements Of Biophilic Design
Biophilic design encompasses many different aspects and forms that create a diverse array of designs. At the base level, biophilic design contains these 7 elements:
Probably the first thing you’d think of when you think of biophilic design is the incorporation of features from the natural environment. Placing the characteristics of the natural world, commonly recognised by humans, into the built environment is the essence of biophilic design itself.
Included in the holistic picture of environmental features is the presence of the colours of nature, natural light, air, plants and views of nature. These elements are regarded as a starter pack of sorts for an exceptional biophilic design.
Natural shapes and forms
Moving away slightly from incorporating nature itself, natural shapes and forms is essentially the next step in the process. It involves imitating the natural forms of nature in building facades and interiors.
These can be seen in the appearance of plant and tree-like features within buildings, that attempt to emulate the important role flora plays in the natural environment.
Natural patterns and processes
This refers to incorporating the natural patterns and processes that happen in nature within our built environments.
This is important because we as humans take our sensory cues from the natural processes that occur around us, and so adding these to our home environments will give us that mental satisfaction that comes with our ability to respond to nature.
Examples of this include the use of central ‘focal points’ (such as trees or tree-like structures) that give context to the biophilic design environment. Incorporating the aging process of change and eventual decay over time that we see in nature is also conducive to biophilic design.
Natural light underpins the essence of a biophilic design and its importance cannot be overlooked, even with the type of artificial lights you may need in your building.
Sunlight in particular has the most important role to play here. We are able to live on planet earth because of the light from the sun, so it goes without saying how important the sun is to us. Harnessing natural sunlight in biophilic design creates a warm, inviting space. Daylight’s effects can be enhanced through its modification, in particular to avoid the occurrence of glare.
Often seen in tandem with light, this involves making sure the way space is laid out in biophilic design is consistent with that commonly found in nature.
In nature we are drawn more to open spaces, such as clearings within forests, so they should be an important consideration when building. Space also pertains to connecting with nature through outdoor hybrid ‘inside-outside’ areas such as an indoor garden, atriums and porches.
This taps into our human need to have a relationship with the natural environments we spend most of our time. This is why we have a yearning for ‘home’ when we aren’t there and a sense of ease and calmness when we are.
It’s a combination of culture with the environment, encouraging connections to be made with the natural environment of a biophilic design. It presents the argument for a consistency in the design too, as to keep parallel with how a natural environment will change over time rather than man-made changes.
Evolved human-nature relationships
Human-nature relationships essentially tie it all together to paint a holistic picture of the benefits of nature to humans, and therefore the benefits of incorporating nature into modern design.
The aim here is to mimic nature in such a way in your building that when you spend time in it, it gives you the benefits of spending time in nature itself.
The Benefits Of Biophilic Design
The aim of biophilic design is to create an authentic, natural relationship with nature which has immense benefits to our health, wellbeing and our impact on the environment.
Being in nature has been shown to decrease stress levels, and in turn reduces the effects of stress on our physical and mental health. It should come as no surprise that nature makes us healthier and calmer people when we spend more time in it. Making the indoor places where we spend the vast majority if not all of our time resemble nature will give us those benefits without having to quit our jobs, move to the wilderness and live off the grid!
The use of natural elements also has a profoundly positive impact on the environment and as we are in the midst of a man-made climate crisis brought about by a disconnection with our environment, biophilic design can go some way to reversing that damage.
Why Would You Consider Biophilic Design?
The economic benefits of biophilic design go hand in hand with the physical and environmental ones.
Studies done on businesses that operate in biophilic designed spaces have reported a much higher level of productivity as a result. Improved health of employees leads to reduction in absenteeism and mental fatigue, and an increase in mood and employee engagement.
Nature literally makes who we are, and that shouldn’t be disregarded in today’s modern world.
What Does It Mean From A Design Perspective?
As it is still a relatively recent phenomenon, especially in Australia, biophilic design often requires its design and construction teams to think outside the box of standard construction elements.
That’s why when considering biophilic design for your next build, you should look to bring in those with experience in their field. As sustainable builders in Melbourne Green Edge Builders we understand the shift towards biophilic design and it is at the core of what we do.
If you’d like efficient, sustainable and environmentally proactive designed homes, get in contact with our experts of biophilic building in Melbourne today and let’s work together to bring you back to nature!