Innovative as it might seem, the trend towards Biophilic Design is more like a change of course that recognises the fundamental human need to be close to nature.
A way of designing our built environment, Biophilic Design steps away from the traditional approach, often dictated by the use of common materials and practical or economic concerns, to incorporate nature into the modern built environment.
It’s a refreshing change from our legacy of a built environment that is little more than a concrete jungle. It also leapfrogs the trend in green architecture, which has gone some way to counter environmental impact but hasn’t gone far enough to create environments that wholly satisfy our need to connect with nature.
But perhaps most importantly, Biophilic Design is good for you!
Introduced and popularised by Edward O. Wilson in 1984, the Biophilia hypothesis (or BET) suggests that humans have an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other lifeforms. More so, Wilson positions this tendency as a strong urge.
‘Biophilia’ means ‘love of life or living systems’ and Wilson proposed that this is something that is rooted in our biology. It’s a theory that goes back as far as Aristotle, who also put forward a concept that can be summed up as a ‘love of life’ and a wellspring of happiness.
Biophilic Design is the missing piece of the sustainable development puzzle, enabling more of the connections we need as humans to our natural world. It’s also an acknowledgement that, for more than 99% of human history, we’ve adapted to the natural world rather than human or artificial forces.
And that’s a vital point: we were and are biologically encoded to associate with the natural world. It’s an interaction that is essential to our physical and mental health and so our overall wellbeing.
So, for all of the many people who now find ourselves living in a built environment, and 90% of our time indoors, Biophilic Design can provide a workable and easy to incorporate solution to cost-effectively creating good habitats.
Focusing on those aspects of the natural world that enhance human health and productivity, Biophilic Design brings natural elements indoors to blur the lines between the outside and the inside and create much healthier, happier environments.
More and more employers are realising the benefits of Biophilic Design. So much so that it’s becoming the norm for the modern office.
Big employers, such as Amazon, have embraced the concept wholeheartedly. At their HQ, they’ve built a set of glass orbs filled with ‘cloud forest’ gardens that provide work space for employees and green space for the public.
Here at James Tobias we think that bringing the outside in is paramount in a work environment, that’s why we have options to incorporate our moss and living walls into a many of products, including the back panels of quebix and the back wall of a retreat, adding a touch of nature to design.
Of course, there are easier and more affordable ways to achieve the benefits of Biophilic Design. Research from the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied in 2014 found that putting plants inside a building increases well-being by 40%.
Studies have also shown that adding biophilic elements to offices can increase productivity and reduce absenteeism, two factors that impact the bottom line due to the large portion of a company’s operating costs represented by human resources.
All great stuff to think about if you’re considering an office refresh or refurb: build in Biophilic Design!