Why Biophilic Design Matters
We have never been so disconnected from the environment as we are today. Our natural instinct is to survive, and to survive in today’s world we must work. Gone are the days where we were surrounded by native forest, where we would hunt for our food and live among the environment we were born in. We continue to distance ourselves from our old ways of living. For many years, living with a connection to nature was seen to be socially undesirable. You were classed as a Hippie or a Greeny, there was a stigma that most did not want to associate themselves with. It is only in the most recent decade, through education, that it is socially acceptable and a norm to care for the environment.
Events such as global warming, population increase and deforestation have encouraged researchers to delve deeper into how we can work together to preserve the environment. Without a connection to the environment, we will continue to live the way we do; in plain offices and homes with no regard to the wider environment. Because we spend a considerable amount of time at work, in motor vehicles and at home it was important for researchers to think of the best method that would encourage people to build a connection with the natural environment. A connection with nature is already encoded in our DNA, this is what biophilia means. That relaxing feeling you get when exposed to a water fall or the sound of birds is stimulation that is part of our genetics. We know when we are in this environment because it is encoded into our senses. Tapping into this genetic coding positively stimulates us and encourages us to appreciate our native environment. This appreciation encourages us to do more to protect our natural environment. It is a win-win in terms of benefiting ourselves and supporting the sustainability of our natural environment.
Less exposure to the natural world is depriving humankind of essential psychological and physiological benefits that exposure to fresh air, plants, mountains and water provides us. It is biophilia that is reshaping how we think and interact with different environments.
Biophilia can be described as ‘humanity’s innate need to connect with nature and the natural environment’. We have developed a new environment known as the ‘built environment’. This includes man-made structures and alterations that mankind has made. Biophilia, in a nut shell, is changing the way we work and live within the built environment. As a species, we have detached ourselves from our natural habitats. Similar to the way we put animals in captivity, they are in an environment that is stressing and unnatural. Working and living in an unenriched environment, like many of us do today, has negative impacts on our health and wellbeing.
Biophilic Design Benefits:
- Reduced employee absenteeism
- Reduced stress levels
- Improved health
- Mental restoration & reduced fatigue
- Increased mood and well-being
- Enhanced productivity
- Improved employee engagement
Businesses and home owners have the opportunity and technology to enhance the environment in their workplace for better productivity and comfort. Integrating biophilic design into these spaces enhances an environment through features such as green walls, plants, rough surfaces, wood and water. These biophilic design techniques emit positive responses, just like you would feel in a natural environment.
The Idea of biophilia has transformed design and architecture within the construction industry. There is an uncanny resemblance between biophilia today and the renaissance of the 14th-17th century. The renaissance was known as the cultural bridge between the middle ages and modern history, where art, architecture and literature introduced a modern age of living. Biophilia has the potential to create a new age of living, an age that introduces revolutionary architecture and new cultural perceptions.
Many consider biophilic design to only be a philosophical idea, the reality is that this design technique is being used largely in offices and areas where productivity of human beings is essential. There are real benefits that biophilic design present to people that make constructing, designing and implementing this design justifiable for businesses and new home builds. Plants enrich our environments that we are working and living in, naturally improving wellbeing and productivity of workers exposed to this design. Biophilic design should not be limited to just our work environments. It’s proven that our wellbeing and health are improved when biophilic design has been implemented. So why not introduce this new age of living into our homes where we spend a considerable amount of time. Renovating or building a new home is the perfect opportunity.
Unlike the renaissance, biophilic design will not take centuries to become mainstream. The research and technology that is available today, allows people to see for themselves the benefits the design brings. It will be within this decade that biophilic design will become mainstream. It will be the cultural change that will take longer; it takes patience, knowledge, learning and drive to be able to influence and introduce cultural norms. Biophilic design becoming a cultural norm could alter the way we interact with different cultures. Biophilia is part of our DNA, regardless of the culture you are aligned with. It has the potential to bring cultures together while improving the health of ourselves and nature. It’s time to introduce a new age of living, a biophilic age.