Benefits of biophilic design2022-03-08T08:51:49+01:00

Project Description

Nature as a source of inspiration

Nature as a source of inspiration

We explore biophilia in architecture and design.

From ancient civilisation to contemporary buildings, nature has proved a constant source of inspiration for architects and designers through the centuries. We take a look at the context of biophilic design and the benefits it can bring.

Bonsai on a desktop

Humans’ desire to be close to the natural world where they live has always been there. From the fabled Hanging Gardens of Babylon through to bonsai trees in Japanese homes and of course in Scandinavian countries, natural elements such as wood have been an intrinsic part of the design process.

Growing urbanisation

But man’s move to towns and cities from more agrarian existences – over two thirds of the population will live in urban areas by 2050 according to the United Nations – has meant we can’t just step out into nearby fields to get our nature fix. A 2015 report states, “Contemporary cities have high stress levels, mental health issues, high crime levels and ill health…”

Enter biophilia

This is where biophilic design can help. The term biophilia was actually coined relatively recently by German-born American psychoanalyst Erich Fromm in The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness (1973), He defined it as “the passionate love of life and of all that is alive.”

A connection to nature in 20th-century design

Twentieth century architects pre-dating Fromm were keen to connect occupants more closely with nature. One need only look to Le Corbusier’s 1920s concept Cité Radiant with its idea of placing tall towers in a park, surrounded by greenery, or Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater with its unforgettable cantilevered terraces above a waterfall in Pennsylvania to see biophilic design principles in action. Several decades later, the idea of biophilic design and elements like green roofs are becoming more widespread.

A connection to nature in 20th-century design

Twentieth century architects pre-dating Fromm were keen to connect occupants more closely with nature. One need only look to Le Corbusier’s 1920s concept Cité Radiant with its idea of placing tall towers in a park, surrounded by greenery, or Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater with its unforgettable cantilevered terraces above a waterfall in Pennsylvania to see biophilic design principles in action. Several decades later, the idea of biophilic design and elements like green roofs are becoming more widespread.

Exterior and interior

Other elements include green walls and facades, and vertical gardens. Outside space such as balconies and courtyards provide a connection to the outdoors, and planting doesn’t have to be merely decorative either: there is a growing trend for urban farming. Materials such as wood also create a sense of warmth and wellbeing indoors.

Biophilic design benefits

“The nature-connectedness of some buildings presents all sorts of benefits in the living, working, learning, entertainment, and medical environments,” says a 2021 report. These range from improved physical health and mental well-being, quicker healing times in healthcare settings and improved cognitive function and productivity in workplaces.

Harmony between people and planet

Biophilic architecture can also play its part in saving the planet; for example, natural materials usually involve a lower embodied carbon footprint. Above all, biophilic design can help achieve a much needed sense of harmony, not just between body and mind, but also between buildings and nature.

Wood includes biophilic design with its connection to nature
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Photos:

Wood veneer, Gustafs. Frank Lloyd Writght’s Fallingwater, Surfsupusa, Public domain, via Wikimedia. Bonsai Three, Rachmaddian Shotz, Unsplash