What is Biophilic design?
The word Biophilic is derived from Biophilia, a term established in 1984 that is used to describe the relationship between human and nature, and how humans and nature and innately interconnection. As the modern world progressively continues to urbanize, interest in bringing nature back into urban areas became more and more popular, as it welcomed nature into growing cities instead of pushing it away. Biophilic design is defined as a method of design that will satisfy the deep rooted, fundamental human need to be connected nature. Biophilic design can be achieved through greenery, windows, potted plants, and some sort of access to natural light or fresh air. Biophilic designs are commonly incorporated architecture and interior design and many spaces features biophilic designs include workplaces, residential homes, and classrooms. Biophilic design is also often centered around the philosophy that exposure to nature has a positive impact on human life and can increase mental and physical well-being, productivity, creativity, and motivation, as well as decrease stress, anxiety, and depression.
Biophilic designs in Offices
When people are asked to imagine office buildings, they may start to think about a small gray cubicle in a space with no windows and a stark atmosphere. Although gray boring cubicles may be an office space stereotype biophilic designs are becoming increasingly popular when it comes to corporate office spaces. As the concept biophilic design continues to gain popularity in the world of architecture and design, there has been an increase in studies being produced that are recognizing how biophilic design principles significantly impact office spaces. Biophilic designs in office spaces are most commonly created using plants, natural light, green backgrounds, and sometimes even water features. Recent research findings have continuously shown that biophilic designs in the workplace are incredibly beneficial for the overall health and well-being of employees. In spaces that feature aspects of biophilic design, employee well-being, productivity, motivation, and creativity are all heightened. Based on results from the Human Spaces Report, 33% of workers reported that the office that they will work in has a impact on their decision on whether they will work for a company (Cooper, et al., 2015). Massive companies such as amazon, Microsoft, Airbnb, and Etsy have all made significant efforts to switch their corporate office structures and incorporate biophilic design as it not only benefits the employee but produces better outcomes for the organization overall.
Biophilic design in Classrooms
Research has also found that biophilic design principles used in classrooms creates a more stimulating and healthier learning environment for students of all ages. Biophilic designs in classrooms have been shown to improve concentration, reduce stressors, as well as improve student and teacher well-being. A study conducted on student health indicated that biophilic designs can significantly improve cognition development in school aged children (Determan, et al., 2019). Biophilic designs have also been shown to reduce cortisol levels in students, which lowers blood pressure and makes students calmer and less stressed (Determan, et al., 2019). The most highlighted piece of biophilic design principles researchers have emphasized regarding student success is the concept of natural light in classrooms as access to natural daylight is linked to higher levels of alertness, concentration, and cognitive processing speed (Determan, et al., 2019). Greenery in classroom environments is another common method in incorporating biophilic design principles. Indoor plants, or access to a green space outside promote a positive mood inside the classroom. Even something as simple as a green wall can help students create a mental connection with nature which can help create feelings of calmness in an environment that is often so stressful. Overall, research findings shown that biophilic design in classrooms can create a nurturing and engaging learning environment that can help foster a sense of happiness in school as well as boost student success.
Biophilic Design in Residential homes
Today, human connectedness to nature is becoming more and more challenging to achieve, specifically in highly urbanized areas. The impact of biophilic design in homes on human health is significant, according to many research findings. A study conducted in Atlanta hypothesized that biophilic design in residences will produce a high level of environment awareness as well as boost the feelings of connectedness towards nature. Because of the increase of awareness due to biophilic design in homes, individuals and residential communities may improve on their overall health and well-being. The study’s findings concluded that an increase of biophilic design increased connection and interaction with nature which in turn improved health outcomes for the community (Chen, 2017). Biophilic design is also very popular among old folk’s communities and residences. As elderly people spend limited time outside, creating a space to interact with nature indoors is a priority for many. Another study on biophilic design focused specifically on whether biophilic design principles could impact elderly people’s mood during Covid-19. The results from this study determined that biophilic design did aid in improving mood as well as improving the overall “ageing experience” and lessened depression and anxiety symptoms (Afacan, 2021). Biophilic designs often involve an improvement of air quality, and increase of natural light, and a calming presence that is formed through the natural elements incorporated into the design.
Although ‘biophilic design’ is a term that may be fairly unknown, the concept of incorporating nature into livable spaces is not a new concept in design and architecture practices. Biophilic design offers a range of benefits such as improving mood, motivation, creativity, and cognitive function while simultaneously reducing stress and anxiety. As more living and working spaces adopt biophilic design principles, individuals and communities will see the positive impacts of improved health and well-being. In addition to internal positive outcomes, biophilic design has the potential to contribute to a way of a more sustainable and productive way to urbanize living and working spaces. As the world continues to update and urbanize, the principles of biophilic design becoming more popular among designers. Because of the range of benefits that come from biophilic design, it is more than likely there will be a shift to incorporate nature into people’s lives through the execution of biophilic design.
Afacan, Y. (2021). Impacts of biophilic design on the development of gerotranscendence and the Profile of Mood States during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ageing & Society, 1-25. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0144686X21001860
Ayuso Sanchez, J., Ikaga, T., & Vega Sanchez, S. (2018). Quantitative improvement in workplace performance through Biophilic Design: A pilot experiment case study. Energy and Buildings, 177, 316–328. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enbuild.2018.07.065
Chen, S. (2017). The impact of biophilic design on health and wellbeing of residents through raising environmental awareness and nature connectedness. The University of Georgia, 6-100.
Cooper, C. S., Et al. (2015). The global impact of biophilic design in the workplace. Human Spaces, 1-38. https://greenplantsforgreenbuildings.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Human-Spaces-Report-Biophilic-Global_Impact_Biophilic_Design.pdf
Determan, J., Akers, M. A., Albright, T., Browning, B., Martin-Dunlop, C., Archibald, P., & Caruolo, V. (2019). The impact of biophilic learning spaces on student success. Retrieved from https://cgdarch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/The-Impact-of-Biophilic-Learning-Spaces- on-Student-Success.pdf
Biophilic Design: Why Biophilia Gets and A+. Inpro Architecture. (2020, February 25). Retrieved April 5, 2023, from https://www.inprocorp.com/resources/blog/biophilic-design-in-education/
Frew, S. (2021, April 17). Living space: The buzz about biophilia in architectural design. Architizer. Retrieved April 5, 2023, from https://architizer.com/blog/inspiration/stories/biophilia-architecture-design/
K2 Space. (2022, September 16). Biophilic Office Design – bringing nature into the workplace. Biophilic Office Designs. Retrieved April 5, 2023, from https://k2space.co.uk/knowledge/biophilic-office-design/
Larson, K. (2021, August 25). 5 ways that Biophilic design can boost social-emotional learning. Ideas & Inspiration. Retrieved April 5, 2023, from https://ideas.demco.com/blog/5-ways-that-biophilic-design-cac-boost-social-emotional-learning/
Pochepan, J. (2018, September 6). What’s the big deal with Biophilic Office Design? | Inc.com. Inc Design. Retrieved April 5, 2023, from https://www.inc.com/jeff-pochepan/put-mother-nature-to-work-with-biophilic-design.html