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  • DimitraP

Simplified biophilia

When I say nature I do not mean the wind and the bees and the trees and the animals. I mean the nature with a capital "N" that is the essence of life everywhere, the essence of life itself. ~Frank Lloyd Wright

As most of you may know, biophilia comes from bio=life + philia=friendly feeling toward, so the biophilic design, a term introduced by Edward O. Wilson, is when nature is translated into design, helping people's health and general wellbeing. Maybe the first thing that comes to our mind when we talk about biophilia is plants. But even though plants are part of biophilic design, they're not the only ones. I hope after reading this, you'll have a more clear idea about what it really is and why as designers we should think about it till the end of a project. But let's take the whole story from the beginning, shall we?

In our times, we constantly look at screens, working all day surrounded by walls, in need of vacations to get in touch with nature. And the pandemic only made that worse. Human beings evolved in nature and they should be in constant touch and relation with nature. Scientists believe that it's good for human health and behavior, so why not consider it in our designs and proposals. The magic thing about biophilic design is that it doesn't have to cost a lot more, making it dumb not to incorporate it.

So basically when we talk about biophilic design, we have to consider nature in the space, natural analogues and nature of the space.

A. Nature In The Space:

  • visual connection with nature, eye contact with nature from the inside, eg having a huge window, looking at the garden

  • non-visual connection with nature, interaction with nature in alternative ways for example, seeing the fire in a fireplace, smelling flowers, etc.

  • non-rhythmic sensory stimuli, having curtains that "dance with the wind" reminds us of leaves on trees

  • thermal & airflow variability, not feeling like you live in a robotic hospital environment where everything is controlled for example, a stable air temperature, is important

  • presence of water, we can recall nature, by having a fountain or watered plants

  • dynamic & diffuse light, having lighting solutions that mimic nature, like different lighting temperatures and colors that can also help our circadian rhythm

  • connection with natural systems, seeing an almond tree outside the window, can help us have a connection with how seasons change

B. Natural Analogues:

  • biomorphic forms & patterns, like stone walls and wooden floors

  • complexity & order, like having a repetitive pattern on the wall or a spiral staircase

C. Nature of the space:

  • prospect, nothing's greater for boosting our creativity than having an uninterrupted view from our window

  • refuge, feeling safe and secure under a canopy, or a hammock or even having a sofa that gives you the sense of protection

  • mystery, not having everything figured out in your viewport could give your curiosity a boost

  • risk/peril, finding the fine line between security and risk could be beneficial

So now that you've got an idea of how you can incorporate biophilia into your design process, let's talk about the main benefits we can get from biophilic design. Studies show, that our connection with nature can benefit our concentration, our health, and recovery, our coping mechanisms with stress, professional development and so much more. From that, we can understand that biophilic design does not concern only architects and interior designers, but urban planners too, as it can have tremendous effects on the quality of life of a whole neighborhood or a city. Last but not least, biophilia is deeply connected to sustainability and maybe circular design, so it's our mission to learn more and incorporate it into our design.



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