A Beginner’s Guide to Biophilic Design

For centuries we’ve attempted to incorporate nature into our buildings and architecture. Both aesthetically and for fundamental survival, being around nature has always been included in the development of civilization, however, it wasn’t until the last century that designers and architects began to really focus on the use of plants in their developments.

Biophilia, the desire of humans to be around other life forms, such as plants, has been a term in use since the mid 20th century yet it has evolved quite a bit, especially now that sustainable living and innovative technology such as smart plants have come into the picture.

Biophilic Design

What is Biophilic Design?

Biophilic design is a concept used in the building and interior design industries that bring humans into contact with indirect and direct nature through the elements of architecture. For example, a wall of vines placed cohesively into a rooftop patio provides residents of a condominium building with direct access to lush greenery in the midst of a busy city. Not only can biophilic design by the addition of “greenery” into the design of the building, but it can also incorporate food and vegetation as well.

Why is Biophilic Design Even More Relevant Today?

In the midst of a pandemic, much of the world has spent quite a bit of their time indoors without the ability to travel. The World Health Organization (WHO) has stressed the importance of connecting with nature for our overall health. Stress is a huge contributor to our health, and with urban centres continuing to grow, it’s become more difficult than ever for humans to connect with nature.

Adding even the simplest of plants into designs can aid in lowering stress and blood pressure and increasing overall happiness. How do we know? It’s proven by science.

Biophilic Design is Based on Three Principles

Biophilic design is organized into three categories depending on the overall plan, project, and vision as well as the requirements of the client. Each principle doesn’t need to be used individually. Masters of biophilic design is able to incorporate inspiration from multiple categories in a way that looks natural and ignites the intended emotions.

  • Nature in the space
    Nature in the space includes the use of multi-sensory additions directly incorporated in the design of a building. It’s almost always obvious that the natural element is present within the space. Examples of “nature in the space” include potted plants, gardens, fountains, a birdbath or aquariums – anything that recreates that visualization, olfaction, etc. with nature.
     
  • Nature of the space
    Nature of the space mimics the feelings inspired by being right in nature or even the feelings that often come with different settings, such as mystery, happiness, or even peril. Examples of “nature of the space” are balconies, skylights, and open plan spaces, however, the inclusion of nature can be done in creative ways such as a glass floor.
  • Natural analogues
    Natural analogues used nature indirectly. Through the use of patterns, images, and designs that often replace unnatural materials with those that are alive. These are often more well-thought-out and discreet but can also be huge incorporation in the design, such as mimicking the design of seashells on the walls of a living area.

How can biophilic design benefit our everyday lives?

More than 90% of our lives are spent indoors. Imagine a workplace or your home that incorporates plants and greenery in a way that improves your livelihood long-term. The future of architecture and design may not be too far off. More companies are using biophilic design to enhance employee satisfaction and overall productivity in the workplace. Long-term care homes and retirement living situations have also begun to add biophilic design to increase the wellbeing of seniors and those unable to get outdoors on their own. And, more developers are using “nature of the space” in their initial designs to create living conditions that become a staple in home design.

Biophilic design, even in minimal quantities, adds multiple benefits to our everyday lives including:

  • Reduces stress;
  • Improves health and wellbeing;
  • Improves cognitive ability;
  • Improves mood;
  • Enhances creativity;
  • Improves the aesthetic and attractiveness of any space;
  • Becomes a space of comfort and refuge;

Through the use of vegetation like fruit and herbs as part of the design, people can also improve their health and wellness through easy access to essential nutrition.

Biophilic trends and technology are increasing awareness and the accessibility to design elements that anyone can add to their homes and workspaces.

If you want to include biophilic design into your space and you’re feeling overwhelmed, starting small and building your space a little at a time can ease you into reaping the benefits quickly without needing to reimagine your entire home. Learn more about biophilic design by signing up for Farmlyplace’s upcoming virtual event “Food in the City: How to Design Biophilic?”.


Architecture and Urban Design meets Food In The City – November 2020(Opens in a new browser tab)


Food in the City – Architecture & Urban Design(Opens in a new browser tab)

Food in the City – January 2021 Meetup – Circular Economy(Opens in a new browser tab)

Food in the City: How to Design Biophilic?(Opens in a new browser tab)

This post is also available in: English (Englisch)

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