It is well known that the most relaxing space to be in is most likely outside, fresh air, a waterway nearby or the smell of the ocean or a forest.
There is a new movement taking pace in how we live and the environment we work in. Its called Biophilia in architectural design.
The majority of people spend almost 80-90 % of their time indoors, going back and forth from their houses to their workplaces.
Architects and designers are now introducing design solutions that include the elements of ‘biophilia’ to promote well-being, health, and emotional comfort.
What is biophilia?
Since the earliest civilizations, nature served as humans’ natural habitat, providing shelter, food, and remedies. Today the industrial and technological revolution has taken over. The way we live and work is now so far removed from nature, we are missing out the vital benefits of what can gained from nature in all forms.
The term ‘biophilia’ translates to ‘the love of living things’.
Although the term may sund new it is gradually trending in the fields of architecture and interior design. Biophilia was first used by psychologist Erich Fromm in 1964, then popularized by biologist Edward O Wilson in the 1980’s, when he detected how urbanization is leading to a disconnection with nature.
What is biophilic design?
The main principle behind biophilia is simple: connecting humans with nature to improve well-being. How can architects accomplish this connection? By integrating nature in architectural design.
The main strategy is to bring characteristics of the natural world into built spaces, such as water, greenery, natural light, elements of wood and stone. The use of botanical shapes and forms instead of straight lines is also a characteristic of biophilic designs. Establishing a visual relationship between light, shadow, and the external elements is all part of the principal.
Why do we need biophilic design in workplace?
There are many studies conducted on the benefits of integrating nature in workplaces. An employee spends an average of 8-9 hours daily sitting inside an office, a routine which eventually takes its toll on the human body. The negative impacts include: decreased metabolism rates, increased risk of diabetes and heart diseases, increased risk of depression, lower back and neck pain. Recently, architects have integrated biophilic designs in modern workplaces, which has resulted in an increase in productivity and creativity, and a decrease in employee absence. In other words, the more the office feels like more natural environment the greater the impact. The most recent trend in offie fit out design includes increased natural ventilation, lots of indoor plants, more natural materials.
How do biophilic designs and timber go hand-in-hand?
While there are many ways to integrate biophilic designs, one popular solution is the use of timber. Timber is a natural and versatile material, and creates a great connection with the outdoors. Studies have shown when the grain of timber is visible it relaxes the autonomic nervous system, resulting in lowered stress responses.
For example the appearance timber finishes offer is a visual connection to nature, due to the abundance of types, textures, and colours. Whether it’s used as flooring, panels, or furniture, the material’s appeal is universal.
When it comes to functionality, timber can be applied in all types of interior spaces (offices, hotels, restaurants, and houses) and still provide the same visual and emotional connection with nature. Often timber is combined with greenery and an abundance of natural daylight to create a rich biophilic design palette to promote well-being.