The word Biophilia originates from the Greek ‘Philia’ meaning ‘love of’ and simply means a love of life or living things.
Biophilic design dates back to the early 80s when biologist Edward O. Wilson outlined his philosophy of biophilia, stating that humans have an inherent need to connect to the natural world. Biophilic design recognizes this philosophy and takes the idea one step further.
Because humans spend more time indoors, it’s necessary to bring the great outdoors in to create a natural environment for us to live, work, and learn in. By consciously bringing natural elements into our interior spaces or architectural designs, we are subconsciously connecting with the natural world.
What does Biophilic design include?
Biophilic design is more than just adding plants to indoor spaces. It’s a philosophy of design that is used as a way to improve the mental and physical well being of those using the interior space.
There are three core categories of biophilic design.
Nature in the Space
This concept refers to adding natural elements to the interior design. It’s one of the easiest and cheapest ways to introduce biophilia to modern buildings as it gives people instant access to the health benefits of biophilia.
Think potted plants, rooftop gardens, living walls, views of natural landscapes from the window, natural light, and access to green space and nature.
These direct connections to nature have the strongest impact on us as humans.
This concept refers to man-made elements that mimic natural features. Think of things like artificial plants, artwork, natural geometries, naturalistic shapes and materials that all evoke natural environments.
By mirroring natural forms through the use of textures and natural lighting, you can create a human nature connection that evokes positive responses to the outdoors.
The Nature of the Space
This concept refers to the way in which space planning and architectural design affect our moods and feelings.
Humans have evolved over millions of years, and our success as a species is due to our ability to connect with the natural habitat. As a species, we are continually drawn to inspirational and restorative places that allow us to explore.
It’s for this reason that we find golden beaches with stunningly clear waters or mountain environments with waterfalls to be the most attractive. Mysterious and risky views also draw us in, which explains our love for tall buildings, skyscrapers, spiral staircases and multi-level views such as mezzanines and atriums.
What are the benefits of biophilic design?
Long before the covid-19 pandemic, the biophilic design was incredibly popular and research has shown that there is a direct correlation between clever architectural design and improved mental well being. Even simple changes to incorporate nature into the workplace and home can have a huge impact on how we feel.
In fact, a 2019 study found that children in Denmark that were exposed to the outdoors had over 50% fewer mental health problems as an adult compared to those who weren’t exposed to nature.
Additional research has also shown that natural materials and natural light can also help increase focus and boost immunity.
Studies have also linked greenery to increased productivity. In a series of studies, researchers from the Nordics found that people who performed complex tasks surrounded by plants improved their scores every time versus people who did not. This is because when we are surrounded by nature, we can give our minds a break, restoring our ability to focus. This research has led some of the world’s top organisations to incorporate biophilic design as a way to make employees happier, harder working, and more creative.
Incorporating Biophilic Design into Your Space
Incorporating biophilic design into your workplace or home is incredibly easy and can be done in two ways – directly and indirectly.
For a direct experience, plants and greenery are a quick and easy way to incorporate biophilic design into your urban space. Not only do they look nice, but as research has shown, they can allow us to feel happier and more productive too.
If you are struggling for space in your home or office, you can incorporate biophilic design elements into your immediate surroundings through other methods. Scents are a great way to add this to your space indirectly – things like candles smelling of lavender, or an earthy colour scheme on the walls and floors are a great way to implement biophilic design into your space subtly.
Designing spaces can often be difficult. But with biophilic design, it only takes a few simple additions to connect humans to the outdoors.
The great thing about biophilic design is that it’s completely flexible – you don’t have to completely remodel a room or building to reap the benefits. Positive health effects can happen by implementing the smallest changes.
By introducing more plants to an urban space such as an office, you can increase productivity by around 15%.