Implementing Biophilic Design

Posted by on 26 October 2017

Biophilic DesignWhen it comes to designing a biophilic environment, there is no universal solution. There are considerations that will influence the design aspect of any biophilic environment. Biophilic designs should be influenced by the local environment while adapting to the situation at hand. We believe that we should blend into nature, not modify it.

The best biophilic designs are inspired by the influences they have on our wellbeing, cultural norms and expectations, experiences, and our perception of nature. These influential perspectives are what it means to be biophilic. It influences our connection with nature and how we can have better wellbeing.  

The Problem:

Sustainability is a huge part of the 21st Century. It is in recent years that mankind has begun to realise the damage that is being done to the planet; global warming being the most prominent. Many of us choose to purchase products that have been sustainably sourced in order to make us feel good and convince ourselves of the positive change we are making. We do this in response to being told how bad traditional products are for our health and the environment; often by sustainable product companies. The problem is that we are being told what is best, without truly appreciating why it is best. There is little appreciation for nature. We can design sustainable biophilic homes and buildings but for this to be successful people need to appreciate nature.

There is a lack of appreciation for nature and its design because a lot of people are born in big cities without native bush. They are missing out on the stimulation that nature naturally gives us. Research has strongly demonstrated the benefits that nature gives us, both psychologically and physiologically.     

Implementation of Biophilic Design:

Diversity of Design:

Designing a biophilic home can be challenging especially when it is not yet mainstream. To make sure that you are receiving all the benefits that a biophilic home can provide; there needs to be a diverse range of patterns and sensory approaches. Being diverse helps to accommodate different cultures and personal perceptions. This can be achieved through the use of patterns and appealing to different senses. Art work that resembles nature can be appropriate where vegetation is not. Water features appear to us visually and through hearing, giving us a relaxing feeling. The smell of soil and plants lowers anxiety and stimulates the brain. Nature appeals to all of our senses, integrating this into biophilic design can be challenging. It is important to ensure that multiple strategies aren’t used just for the sake of being diverse. It must be unified within the design to have maximum benefits.

Quality or Quantity:

How much nature should you incorporate into the design? Implementation of a high-quality design often means rich content, practicality, and diverse approaches or content. A high-quality approach can be more effective for design and achieving health benefits. Having several low quality biophilic projects within your home is less likely to stimulate occupants. It can also appear overkill if it is not properly executed in the design. Quantity might be the best implementation if you would prefer to have biophilic designs incorporated extensively throughout your home.; rather than having a single exposure to the design.

Exposure to biophilic design has a varied reaction among people. When we see, smell, touch and hear nature or associated patterns, it can have a different affect. The emotions that we feel are varied and it can be a challenge to identify the emotions that the design might trigger. An important influencer to consider is the exposure time. It typically takes as little as 5-20 minutes of exposure to nature or patterns for wellbeing to increase. This is where quantity can play its role. If long exposure isn’t suitable, positioning biophilic designs throughout your home where there is more foot traffic can have the same affect. Brief sensory interactions with nature throughout the day help to promote better wellbeing.

Appropriate design:

No two families or places are the same. Building a home allows you to add any personal touches and personality is often integrated through the design. This can be a challenge and an opportunity. Its challenging in the way an individual’s personality might not match with the surrounding environment. They might choose to build a home that stands out rather than blend into nature. It is also an opportunity to introduce something new and unique.

Blending in with nature is no different to how we historically used to build. Building before transportation was available meant adapting to what was around and using materials that grew nearby. Naturally, this helped structures to become integrated with nature. Now that materials can be sourced from anywhere in the world, people are building houses that stand out with foreign materials that don’t look natural. To blend in with natural surroundings it makes sense to source local materials. For instance, living near native bush and trees would make building a home out of wood look elegant and natural. You would need to choose local plants that can handle the climate, it also helps to blend in the home.

PotentialSolution:

For people to gain a better appreciation of the environment, it is going to take more than a biophilic home. They need to be introduced to the environment and experience first-hand the emotional transition it can have. Cities should use biophilic design in their buildings and work environments. If people can start to appreciate the environment that is around them, we can start to introduce a way of living with nature. This is through biophilic design, a modern way to live that allows us to reconnect with nature.  

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