12 Environmental Features of Biophilic Design

Biophilic design improves our physical well-being, our mentally health, it reduces stress levels, improving clarity of thought, PLUS boosting our creativity and even helps to accelerate healing. With all these bonuses it’s no surprise that Biophilia is being given precedence in design research and practice.

  

The Software House Offices, Designed by Zalewski Architecture Group, Image Credit - Tomasz Zakrzewski
The Software House Offices, Designed by Zalewski Architecture Group, Image Credit - Tomasz Zakrzewski

 

In todays world of productivity, corporate offices and hospitals are spending112 times the amount of money on people as they do on energy costs in the workplace. Although incorporating nature into the workplace is no longer seen as a luxury, it is now a worthwhile economic investment.

 

A Hidden Garden Behind the Concrete Walls, designed by Muxin Design, Image Credit - Zhang Daqi
A Hidden Garden Behind the Concrete Walls, designed by Muxin Design, Image Credit - Zhang Daqi

 

Eminent Yale Professor and Biophilia advocateStephen R Kellert founded more than 70 different processes for creating a biophilic experience. Together with the 3 categories broken down into 6 elements, the 12 characteristics of the natural world are the most easily incorporated and recognised of Biophilic Interior Design these are as follows.

 

Residence n. n, designed by J. Mayer H + Alexander Erman Architecture & Design, Image Credit - Ilya Ivanov
Residence n. n, designed by J. Mayer H + Alexander Erman Architecture & Design, Image Credit - Ilya Ivanov

 

  1. Water - water features can provide both visual stimulation and soothing sounds whilst evoking the resonant of a calming babbling brook. Similarly, water can be used as a white noise to cover up the mundane sounds of office phones ringing, machines and colleges conversations. Fountains are a great way to create areas for employees to gather, especially if placed in the right spot or you could place a fountain in the reception area of the office to greet visitors and clients. Although do remember to consider if your office is situated in an area that has naturally high air humidity, then adding more water to the office air could lead to a rise in the humidity of the interior which may become uncomfortable or even be unhealthy. Make sure when getting a water feature/ fountain fitted in the office to consult with a fountain designer in order to get the correct one for your work environment.
Adidas Offices in Shanghai, designed by PDM International, Image Credit - Hans Schlupp Photography
Adidas Offices in Shanghai, designed by PDM International, Image Credit - Hans Schlupp Photography
Der Tank, Advertising Agency, Estonia - Image Credit - Hongkiat.com (HKDC)
Der Tank, Advertising Agency, Estonia - Image Credit - Hongkiat.com (HKDC)

 

2. Air – when it comes to air people normally opt for natural airflow rather than artificial airflow. Artificial airflow can irritate sensitive membranes within the nose and throat, which could lead to employees becoming more susceptible to germs, viruses and even allergens which may lead to asthma or even employee absenteeism.Phillippe Pare from Gensler Architect and Design Consultancy stated that“improved air quality has to be up there as one of the biggest benefits of biophilic design as it plays an important role in reducing absenteeism, which is a huge business cost.”

Sarto Screens by Steelcase Image Credit - Steelcase
Sarto Screens by Steelcase Image Credit - Steelcase
Office Design For Innovation and Design Center Studio 5B, Mumbai, Praxis, Image Credit - The architect's Diary
Office Design For Innovation and Design Center Studio 5B, Mumbai, Praxis, Image Credit - The architect's Diary

3. Colour – Colour empowerment has been a key part in human evolution and survival since ancient times; its visual signaling enabled us to identify danger and locate food and water. When it comes to colour selection, it’s important to choose a colour scheme that represents the local natural environment, or the brand colours of the company, both help create a sense of belonging through attachment to a place.

Crepuscule Offices - Paris, Designed by Karin Hemar, Image Credit - Pascaline Marre
Crepuscule Offices - Paris, Designed by Karin Hemar, Image Credit - Pascaline Marre 
MOW Supernova Coworking Offices – Tampere, Designed by Mint & More Creative, Image Credit - Esa Kapila
MOW Supernova Coworking Offices – Tampere, Designed by Mint & More Creative, Image Credit - Esa Kapila

4. Natural Materials – when it comes to materials people normally opt for natural over artificial; artificial materials don’t possess the innate organic processes of weathering, ageing and other dynamic features that make up natural materials. Creating direct and meaningful connections to these natural elements creates movement, diversity and multi-sensory interaction with your environment. For example,Frank Lloyd Wright used wood grain and the veining of stone as decorative elements within his interior and was always exploring the relationship of interior to exterior through the use of natural materials.

Nordea Greenest Offices – Gdynia, Designed by Workplace, Image Credit - Adam Grzesik
Nordea Greenest Offices – Gdynia, Designed by Workplace, Image Credit - Adam Grzesik
FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT BACHMAN-WILSON HOUSE,  NANCY NOLAN / COURTESY OF CRYSTAL BRIDGES MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART, BENTONVILLE, ARKANSAS
Frank Lloyd Wright Bachman - Wilson House, Nancy Nolan/ Courtesy of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas

5. Sunlight – the body’s response to daylight is another key part of how we connect the power of biophilia. Daylight effects both our circadian rhythm and eye function. The morning light is yellow and becomes bluer in mid-day and then shifts to red as we reach late afternoon. Exposure to natural light can have many benefits on our health such as improving our mood and even regulating our sleep pattern. The hormones serotonin and melatonin are regulated by sunlight and darkness, without the correct balance, our sleep patterns can be disturbed, which effects both our neurological and immune system functions. Therefore, natural light is important in providing specific wavelengths of light which are needed by the human body to establish and maintain serotonin and melatonin balance.

 

The Avion Collection designed by Keith Melbourne for Stylecraft brings a modular and incredibly flexible option for the workplace. Image Credit - Indesign Live
The Avion Collection designed by Keith Melbourne for Stylecraft brings a modular and incredibly flexible option for the workplace. Image Credit - Indesign Live 
animation studio Squint/Opera SIBLING, Image Credit - Christine Francis
Animation studio Squint/Opera SIBLING, Image Credit - Christine Francis

6. Fire - fire is one of the trickier elements to incorporate into a built environment. Symbols of fire within interiors are a sign of comfort and civilization providing welcoming qualities of warmth, colour and movement. The experience of fire has long been a source of comfort and security. In order to create the satisfying presence of fire within the built environment fireplaces or hearths can be included. Likewise, a safer representation can be simulated through the creativity of light, movement, colour and materials of varying heat conductance.

 

Design: Daystar Design Lab, Image Credit - Decorist
Design: Daystar Design Lab, Image Credit - Decorist 

7. Plants – plants are a key part to human existence as a source of food, security and sustenance. By incorporating plants into the built environment, you can enhance employee’s well-being, performance, comfort and satisfaction. Plants are beneficial for the work environment as they improve air quality. When it comes to including plants try to plant them in sufficient quantities as, indoor plants have been shown to remove many types of air-borne pollutants from both the outdoors and indoors. Similarly, by incorporating plants into office interior you increase your employee’s well-being resulting in a reduction in sick leave.Research has shown that the ability of plants to absorb carbon dioxide also has beneficial features for the office as workplace productivity can decline is CO2 levels rising. There has beensupporting evidence that shows that people working in offices with plants reported feeling happier in their job and performance at work. Plants are essential in a work environment to enhance employee satisfaction and health.

Riksbyggen Offices, Västerås - Designed by Ideas AB, Image Credit - Oscar Rydberg
Riksbyggen Offices, Västerås - Designed by Ideas AB, Image Credit - Oscar Rydberg
Transurban Headquarters, Designed by Hassell, Image Credit - Dianna Snape
Transurban Headquarters, Designed by Hassell, Image Credit - Dianna Snape

8. Façade greening - architecture that incorporates green roofs or living walls provoke both an interest and satisfaction. Organic materials are seen as a source of insulation, camouflaging, protection and clean air.

Image Credit - Design of Architectural Environment
Image Credit - Design of Architectural Environment 
Skyscanner – Budapest Offices, Designed by Madilancos Studio, Image Credit - Zoltán Kolozsvári
Skyscanner – Budapest Offices, Designed by Madilancos Studio, Image Credit - Zoltán Kolozsvári

9. Animals – incorporating animals into office may be seen as problematic and difficult unless working in an aquarium or aviaries. But animals in the office don’t have to be literal they can be representational which may be in the form of decoration, art, ornaments which can be stylised to fit the office environment. The presence of animal forms can evoke feelings of pleasure, satisfaction, emotional interest and stimulation. These can also be found in the earliest human structures such as theEgyptian Sphinx andNeolithic Gobekli

 

PetSure Offices – Sydney, Designed by The Bold Collective, Image Credit - Andrew Worssam

 

PetSure Offices – Sydney, Designed by The Bold Collective, Image Credit - Andrew Worssam
Image Credit - Home & Garden
Image Credit - Home & Garden

10. Geology and Landscape – an effective design strategy is creating a connection with the building’s geological features. These structures can be described as both grounded and rooted. A great example of this is architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s who achieved this success through his Prairie-style architecture by creating structures that work along strong parallel relations to the environment rather than dominating the landscape. 

 

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House, Image Credit - Frank Lloyd Wright
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House, Image Credit - Frank Lloyd Wright 

11. Habitats and Ecosystems – buildings and landscapes that have a close and well-suited relationship to local habitats and ecosystems are always more favoured. These types of ecosystems could be forests, watersheds, wetlands and even grasslands. A great example of this is theCookfox Architect’s office which is situated with a 3,000 square foot green roof that changes colour and vibrancy from season to season following the natural changes of the years.

512 West 22nd Street Office Building by COOKFOX Architects, Image Credit - Bruce Damonte
512 West 22nd Street Office Building by COOKFOX Architects, Image Credit - Bruce Damonte
512 West 22nd Street Office Building by COOKFOX Architects, Image Credit - Bruce Damonte
512 West 22nd Street Office Building by COOKFOX Architects, Image Credit - Bruce Damonte

12. Views – people always strive for a strong and consistence outdoor view, especially when the view offers natural features and vegetation. Views of water or physical access to natural water features have been shown to have a positive impact on our health as long as they are clean and unpolluted. It is estimated that by incorporating views of nature into the office space you save up to  £1,500 per employee per year in office costs.  Likewise, millions could be saved annually in healthcare cost as a result of providing patients with a view of nature.

Image Credit - Grassify
Image Credit - Grassify 

These seemingly small investments into office design can greatly improve your bottom line. Plants, daylight, natural views and other Biophilic environmental features incorporated in interiors, offices, health facilities, and outdoors create healthy environments that result in savings in time and money.

 Designed by Fosbury & Sons, Photo by Jeroen Verrecht.
 Designed by Fosbury & Sons, Photo by Jeroen Verrecht.

To find out more about how biophilic elements of design can be introduced into your workspace or home, get in touch withHarleen McLean Interiors.