Biophilic Design for the Love of Life
Biophilic Design is an innovative way of designing the places where we live, work, and learn. We need nature in a deep and fundamental fashion, but we have often designed our cities and suburbs in ways that both degrade the environment and alienate us from nature.
Biophilia (meaning love of life) focuses on human’s innate attraction to nature and natural processes. It suggests that we all have a genetic connection to the natural world built up through hundreds of thousands of years of living in agrarian settings. It is a term popularized by American psychologist Edward O Wilson in the 1980’s, when he observed how increasing rates of urbanisation were leading to a disconnection with the natural world. With high rates of migration to urban settings in the developed world and soaring rates in developing countries – Biophilia is of ever increasing importance to our health and well-being in the built environment.
There have been numerous studies over the last 35 years on the benefits to the built environment through improving a connection to nature:
· Office design: productivity can be increased by 8%, rates of well-being up by 13%, increases in creativity, with reduced absenteeism and presenteeism
· Hospitality design: Guests willing to pay 23% more for rooms with views of Biophilic elements
· Education spaces: increased rates of learning 20-25%, improved test results, concentration levels and attendance, reduced impacts of ADHD
· Healthcare spaces: post-operative recovery times decreased by 8.5%, reduced pain medication by 22%
· Retail: the presence of vegetation & landscaping has been found to increase average rental rates on retail spaces with customers indicating they were willing to pay 8-12 % more for goods and services.
· Homes: can become more calming & restorative, with 7-8 % less crime attributed to areas with access to nature and can command an increase of 4-5% in property price.
The recent trend in green architecture has decreased the environmental impact of the built environment, but it has accomplished little in the way of reconnecting us to the natural world, the missing piece in the puzzle of sustainable development. Biophilic Design points the way toward creating healthy and productive habitats for modern humans: buildings that connect people and nature - hospitals where patients heal faster, schools where children’s test scores are higher, offices where workers are more productive, and communities where people know more of their neighbors and families thrive.