Biophilic Design – Add Wellness Quotient To Your Space.
Biophilic design is a concept used within the building industry to increase occupant connectivity to the natural environment through the use of direct nature, indirect nature, and space and place conditions. Why?
Let’s discover it together. . .
Research shows that we humans spend up to 90% of our lives indoors. Ironic! Isn’t it? The biggest flaw in this is that we stay disconnected 90% of time from nature. A same nature which provides us all the essentials to stay alive. That is when Biophilic Design comes to our rescue.
This might sound funny to you but it is as significant as it sounds. Because being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature for that matter, reduces anger, fear, stress, and increases pleasant feelings. Nature is life and magic at the same time.
People who lives in or near nature are the happiest. Exposure to nature not only makes us feel better emotionally, but it does contributes to our physical well–being, Reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones.
♦ Why Biophilic Design Is Important?
Our urban jungle cities have forced us not just to cut the trees for more and more industrial development, but it has pushed us away from the nature too. Biophilic design is a new way of reminding us the connection between us humans and nature. (design features that reconnect people with nature) Biophilic Design could help reduce stress in the workplace.
It is needed more than ever to help us overcome our fear and illness of stress and anxiety. We are the generation who has the utmost comfort in life than any other generation ever had or could think of. But you will agree that as well that we are the most stressful generation too. The word “STRESS” didn’t exist even couple of decades ago.
Introducing Biophilic Designs into our space will help us connect more with nature, and it will help us immensely in our well–being too.
Apart from this being necessary it is a trend which will boom post pandemic because of its health benefits. . .
Stephen Kellert recently gave the keynote lecture at a symposium hosted by the Chicago Botanic Garden. During his talk, titled Biophilia, Biophilic Design, and Healing, Kellert described six biophilic design elements:
- Environmental features
- Natural shapes and forms
- Natural patterns and processes
- Light and space
- Place-based relationships
- Evolved human-nature relationships
The idea of biophilic design is that our (built) environment is critical to people’s health, productivity, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual well-being. Buildings and landscape can support human health or they can be detrimental. The so-called sustainability movement (embodied most prominently by LEED standards) is more concerned with how people (through our buildings and landscape) affect nature than how nature affects people. It’d be good to shift the emphasis of our development to how we can make our built environments better for human health.
Related Article : Trends 2020-21 – Post Pandemic Interior Design Trends.
Some key points about Biophilic Design from a paper on biophilic design supported by Terrapin Bright Green, LLC.
♦ What is Good Biophilic Design?
Biophilic design is the designing for people as a biological organism, respecting the mind-body systems as indicators of health and well-being in the context of what is locally appropriate and responsive. Good biophilic design draws from influential perspectives – health conditions, socio-cultural norms and expectations, past experiences, frequency and duration of the user experience, the many speeds at which it may be encountered, and user perception and processing of the experience – to create spaces that are inspirational, restorative, and healthy, as well as integrative with the functionality of the place and the (urban) ecosystem to which it is applied. Above all, biophilic design must nurture a love of place.
♦ Planning for Implementation
Planning for implementation is as much necessary as the design itself. As we all know the situation of urban cities. It is getting denser and denser with more and more of our concrete jungle. And not to forget the rising in land value. But how do you do it with both new and existing buildings? Worry not. Nothing is too different from each other. It may be challenging but not impossible to achieve. In fact this provides us many opportunity to integrate biophilic design and encourage healthy building practices for people and society.
Discussed here in brief are some key perspectives that may help focus the planning and design processes.
a) Identifying desired responses and outcomes
It is vital for a designer to understand a project’s design intent – what are the health or performance priorities of the intended users? To identify design strategies and interventions that restore or enhance well-being, project teams should understand the health baseline or performance needs of the target population. One approach is to ask: what is the most biophilic space we can conceivably design? Another is to ask: how can biophilic design improve performance metrics already used by the client (e.g., company executives, school board, city officials), such as absenteeism, perceived comfort, health care claims, asthma, ticket sales, or test scores.
As many biological responses to design occur together (e.g., reducing physiological indicators of stress and improving overall mood), and there are countless combinations of design patterns and interventions, understanding health related priorities will help focus the design process. Health outcomes associated with biophilic spaces are of interest to building and portfolio managers and human resources administrators, because they inform long term design and measurement best practices, and to planners, policy makers and others because they inform public health policy and urban planning.
b) Design strategies and interventions
Biophilic design patterns are flexible and replicable strategies for enhancing the user experience that can be implemented under a range of circumstances. Just as lighting design for a classroom will be different than for a spa or home library, biophilic design interventions are based on the needs of a specific population in a particular space, and are likely to be developed from a series of evidence-based biophilic design patterns, ideally with a degree of monitoring and evaluation for efficacy.
For example, a project team may embrace the Visual Connection with Nature pattern to enhance the workplace experience for a series of interior fit-outs for a portfolio of offices. The strategy would be to improve views and bring plants into the space; the interventions may include installing a green wall, orienting desks to maximize views to outdoors, and initiating an employee stipend for desk plants. The detail, location, and the extent to which each of these interventions is implemented will differ for each of the offices in the portfolio.
A project team charged with reducing stress among emergency room nurses at the local hospital may intervene by replacing the abstract art with landscape paintings on the walls of the staffroom and installing a small garden and seating area in the adjacent interior courtyard. While this project also uses the Visual Connection with Nature pattern, the selected interventions specifically target stress reduction for emergency room nurses based on a shared space they utilize routinely.
c) Diversity of design strategies
Patterns in combination tend to increase the likelihood of health benefits of a space. Incorporating a diverse range of design strategies can accommodate the needs of various user groups from differing cultures and demographics and create an environment that is psycho-physiologically and cognitively restorative. For instance, vegetated spaces can improve an individual’s self-esteem and mood, while the presence of water can have a relaxing effect. Adding multiple biophilic strategies for the sake of diversity may backfire unless they are integrative and supporting a unified design intent.
d) Quality vs. quantity of intervention
When planning for implementation, common questions recur, such as how much is enough and what makes a good design great. A high quality intervention may be defined by the richness of content, user accessibility and, as mentioned above, diversity of strategies. A single high quality intervention can be more effective and have greater restorative potential than several low quality interventions. Climate, cost and other variables may influence or limit feasibility of certain interventions, but should not be considered an obstacle to achieving a high quality application. For example, multiple instances of Prospect with a shallow to moderate depth of field and limited information in the viewshed may not be as effective (at prompting the desired response) as a single powerful instance of Prospect with a moderate to high depth of field and an information-rich viewshed.
e) Duration of exposure and frequency of access
Identifying the most appropriate duration of exposure to a pattern, or combination of patterns, can be difficult. The ideal exposure time is likely dependent upon the user and desired effect, but as a general guideline, empirical evidence shows that positive emotions, mental restoration and other benefits can occur in as little as 5 to 20 minutes of immersion in nature (; ; ).
When a long duration of exposure is not possible or desired, positioning biophilic design interventions along paths that channel high levels of foot traffic will help improve frequency of access. Consider too that micro-restorative experiences – brief sensory interactions with nature that promote a sense of well-being – while often designed in response to space-restriction, are more readily implementable, replicable and often more accessible than larger interventions; frequent exposure to these small interventions may contribute to a compounded restoration response.
Questions abound on matters of duration of exposure and frequency of access: How persistent is mental restoration over different terms of exposure to nature? Do the improvements continue incrementally with more exposure, or do they plateau? What combinations of design patterns can help optimize a biophilic experience? We hope these questions and others will be explored as research continues on the intersections of neuroscience and design.
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Until next time, Keep inventing keep designing!