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What if our built environment was created by placing nature at the heart of design…?

Biophilic affinity

AB_BIOPHILIAThe term biophilia was used by German-born American psychoanalyst Erich Fromm in The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness (1973), which described biophilia as “the passionate love of life and of all that is alive.”

American biologist Edward O. Wilson later adopted the term in his work Biophilia (1984), which proposed that the tendency of humans to focus on, and to affiliate with nature and other life-forms has, in part, a genetic basis; in his terms biophilia refers to “an innate and genetically determined affinity of human beings with the natural world“.

As we consider the global impact of our rapid urbanisation, it becomes an increasingly prevalent and important notion to consider in design terms. The industry designs for humans, currently often at the cost of the natural world, so how might we move towards the benefit of both? Acknowledging the intricate interdependence that exists to embrace human-centric design that protects the natural world as an integral component…

Biophilic design

AB_biophiliaBy integrating nature and natural systems into the built environment that surrounds us we can incorporate direct and indirect experiences of nature into our lives on a daily basis and reawaken our genetic affinity with the natural world.

To successfully implement biophilic design into the built environment, three core tenets need to be considered:

  • Direct experience of nature | physical elements such as water, trees, plants, light, and fresh air
  • Indirect experience of nature | evoking a sense of nature through materials, colours, textures, shapes and patterns
  • Human experience of space | creating spaces that elicit a positive emotional response; stimulating, energising, restorative, attachment

The premise is not to dogmatically apply all attributes to every space, but instead to identify the attributes that best work with the activity of the space and recognise those which could bring about the most positive outcomes within that space (i.e. the deepest, emotional connection with nature).

Biophilic benefits

AB_HAPPY HUMANSThe biophilic movement is born out of scientifically proven research demonstrating improved mental and physical health outcomes if we feel connected to nature.

Studies have shown that a feeling of connection with nature can reduce stress and anxiety, lower heart rates, improve productivity and resilience and even encourage healing. When surrounded by nature, we concentrate better, are more productive and creative, recover faster and more effectively from illness. In almost every sense, as human beings we are happier in nature.

As a design concept it aims to enhance the quality of occupant experience for individuals and bring about socio-psychological benefits, connecting spaces, places and people, fostering a sense of collective community.

By making nature an integral component of the design industry’s thinking we can infinitely improve our societal infrastructures and advance our health, fitness and wellbeing to enable people to live happier, healthier lives.

“Connecting people with nature in the built environment through implementing Biophilic Design not only improves the health and wellbeing of individuals, and communities but also the health of the planet. By increasing biodiversity and our appreciation for nature, we are more motivated to act in a sustainable way.”

Oliver Heath Design

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Categories:Interiors & Lifestyle