May 1, 2018

It turns out that humans need to connect with nature and living structures in their environments; it’s a need similar to air, water, and food. Research has shown that incorporating nature into spaces can have incredible effects on the people who occupy them.

Phrases like “biophilic design” have been floating around the industry lately (heck, we even used it in our 2018 Corporate Trend Report). But what does biophilia even mean? And why should we, or you, care? In it’s most literal definition, biophilia is the “love of life.” A little lofty, but in a more contextual use of the word, biophilic design is design that reconnects people with nature.

On the healthcare side, nature improves results of pain relief, providing patients with a distraction from their—often stressful—surroundings. Recent studies on Evidence-Based Design found patients whose windows overlooked natural sceneries were released after 7.96 days, compared to the 8.71 days it took for patients who looked at brick walls. Being exposed to nature, or elements designed to reflect nature, can aid in the healing process by decreasing amount of medication that needs to be dispensed and reduce stress.

Employees, both with hospitals and traditional offices, can also reap the benefits of biophilic design with lower work-related stress, decreased worker absences and turn-over rates, as well as overall improved satisfaction. If you’re one for hard facts, Exeter University found that employees were 15% more productive when working in a ‘green’ office. A study by the new University of Technology, Sydney, found a 37% fall in reported tension and anxiety; a 58% drop in depression or dejection; a 44% decrease in anger and hostility; and a 38% reduction in fatigue when plants were added to the office. We’re drawn to biophilic buildings or spaces because they trigger a natural healing process in our own bodies, one that we want to experience repeatedly.

benefits of biophilic design

Source: University of Technology - Sydney

37%

fall in reported tension and anxiety

58%

drop in depression or dejection

44%

decrease in anger and hostility

38%

Reduction in Fatigue from Office Env. + Plants

Through the incorporation of nature motifs, we can affect all of the senses and create a truly immersive experience. Considerations like natural light, water (both in sound and sight), color, and use of organic forms and details are crucial to connecting us to nature. Outside of the obvious is the inclusion of “life.” Creating spaces that encourage human interaction can actually be the most beneficial use of biophilic design.

And the best part about designing biophilic spaces and the reason for us to seek out these opportunities? Christopher Alexander, lecturer and author of The Nature of Order, said it best with, “Making wholeness heals the maker.” Creating these spaces can lend some of the same healing properties to the designer. What better excuse to reconnect with nature and make experiences that increase wellness for everyone?

See how Biophilic Design is actively being used:

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