Biophilia is the love of life and living things. As humans it is in our nature to enjoy the biodiversity that Earth has to offer. In fact, we don’t just enjoy life on this planet, we directly benefit from it. Our relationship to nature connects directly to our mental and physical health. Our relationship to our work environment affects morale and productivity. Biophilic design incorporates nature into the workplace, promoting health, creativity, and productivity by highlighting and promoting our connection to the natural world.
The benefits of a human-centric design philosophy are self-evident. Humans flourish in an environment intended for their comfort and prosperity. If you’ve ever taken a deep breath of fresh air, touched grass after a long day at the computer, or gotten lost looking at the leaves of a tree, you’ve felt the benefits of a biophilic experience. The goal of biophilic design is to supply a healthy, sustainable environment in which human beings can excel. Access to natural light promotes healthy circadian rhythms, allowing for rest while cutting out stress. Studies show that time spent in natural environments reduces heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and improves mental health. Put simply, biophilic design is good for you!
In the office, biophilic design can lead to a greater sense of shared experience and camaraderie amongst employees. Sustained contact to nature is more beneficial than sporadic exposure, so using natural materials is a must. Biophilic spaces promote well-being because they directly relate to human needs. Rather than prioritizing utility, biophilic office design considers the day-to-day experience of an employee, creating an environment that promotes well-being, mental and physical health, and productivity.
Sounds great! But what does it all mean? Well, on a practical level biophilic design attempts to give workers direct and indirect contact with nature throughout the day.
Skylights, windows, and live plants are direct ways to ‘bring the outside in.” Very few offices have windows that open, but a good air purifier can begin to simulate the effects of fresh air. In fact, “green walls” (vertical indoor surfaces purposefully covered by growing vegetation) are a popular way to incorporate life into the office while introducing a natural filter for fresh air.
The use of natural materials like wood and stone is another way to deepen your connection to nature. Images of nature, and reproduced patterns found in nature are ways to indirectly connect with the world around you. For instance, a wall painted with the gentle curve of a wave promotes tranquility while fractals and geometric shapes found in nature inspire design.
Biophilic design is becoming more and more popular in the creation of new spaces and the renovations of existing ones. But you can incorporate the tenets of biophilic design into your workspace today with a little know-how and the right tools for the job.
Plants in indoor spaces are nothing new. They offer the calming green of a living thing while also acting as an air filter, improving air quality while providing aesthetic beauty.
For some, enjoying the sounds of nature is as easy as cracking a window. Others rely on Bluetooth speakers, wireless headphones, and nature sound playlists.
You can enjoy the scents of nature indoors with the use of an essential oil diffuser or a scented candle, although it may be best to keep strong scents at home. At the office, this is an opportunity to create an outdoor space with more fragrant fauna for employees to enjoy during breaks.
Whether it’s a short rain, a babbling brook, the swell of an ocean tide, or the rush of a river, the sound and proximity of water never fails to bring with it a sense of tranquility and calmness. While some businesses may be able to install indoor koi ponds and waterfalls, a small fountain near a window or in the right corner of the break room can have significant calming effects.
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