Introducing Awestruck Biophilic Design - bringing the outdoors indoors through the exploration of wellbeing

What is and isn’t Biophilia?

Biophilic design features focus on aspects of the natural world. These contribute to our productivity and health in the ongoing cycle of improving and maintaining a lifestyle.

Edwardian Weatherboard House Renovated by Sheri Haby Architects

Edwardian Weatherboard House Renovated by Sheri Haby Architects

Biophilic design strives to connect our innate need to connect with nature in the modern built environment that we all live in today. The theory of Biophilia identifies that our species has evolved for more than 99% of its history in an evolving response to the natural world and not to human created or artificial influences. As we have evolved, we have become biologically programmed to automatically connect with natural features and processes. This needs to remain active for peoples physical and mental health, wellbeing and fitness.

Aqualens – designed by Allison Armour in 1999, as the centrepiece of a show garden at the 2000 Chelsea Flower Show

Aqualens – designed by Allison Armour in 1999, as the centrepiece of a show garden at the 2000 Chelsea Flower Show

Today’s natural habitat is more of an urbanised environment, where we now spend 90% of our time, especially since living in a world pandemic where we have all had to spend a lot more time in our homes than ever before. Biophilic design strives to satisfy our innate need to connect with nature in modern architecture and cities. The key goal of Biophilic design is to create a suitable environment for people whilst incorporating modern structures, communities and landscapes. In order to achieve this, we have to meet certain conditions. 

Completed in June 2014, the Bicycle Snake is a 235 metre long ramp that offers cyclists a shortcut across Copenhagen Harbour, Photographer Rasmus Hjortshøj Ole Malling

Completed in June 2014, the Bicycle Snake is a 235 metre long ramp that offers cyclists a shortcut across Copenhagen Harbour, Photographer Rasmus Hjortshøj Ole Malling
The Highline New York
The Highline New York 

Firstly, Biophilia is essentially about evolved human characteristics. Biophilic design focuses on those aspects of nature that are evolving over time and have helped improve our health and wellbeing. A key point to remember, is that any occurrence of nature in the built environment isn’t always associated with Biophilic design. It needs to have an influence on humans’ inner instincts that have a positive impact on our fitness and lifestyle.


Sustainability Treehouse; Glen Jean, West Virginia / Mithun with BNIM © Joe Fletcher



Sustainability Treehouse; Glen Jean, West Virginia / Mithun with BNIM © Joe Fletcher


 

Another unique feature of Biophilic design is its importance on the overall setting or environment rather than a single occurrence of nature. By incorporating an object of nature into a human built environment, with more prominent characteristics of the setting, there should be positive impacts on the health and performance of the people who live in those spaces.

 

Modern home in Mexico immersed in wild nature is truly amazing.

Modern home in Mexico immersed in wild nature is truly amazing.

 

The effectiveness of Biophilic design depends on involvements that are connected, integrated or complimentary with the overall environment rather than being isolated or transient.

The third feature of Biophilic design is the emphasis on engaging with and continuous contact with nature. Biophilia can be described as weak rather than an automatic biological tendency that must be learnt and experienced in order to become fully functional, which is what makes us human. Although, we may be biologically inclined to connect with nature, for the contact to be useful, it must be nurtured through repeated and reinforcing experiences. The benefits of Biophilic design depends on engaging contact with nature rather than the occasional occurrence with nature.

These characteristics generate a set of five conditions for the effective practice of Biophilic design. Defines what is and is not Biophilic design.

Designed by Architect Alexander Nerovnya

Designed by Architect Alexander Nerovnya 

1. Biophilic design accentuates human changes to the natural world that have evolved over time and proven influential in improving people’s health, wellbeing and fitness. Contact with nature is irrelevant to human productivity and survival use little impact on human wellbeing and are not effective instances of Biophilic design.

The National Australia Bank Village Customer Innovation Centre provides a destination for users and NAB customers to meet, collaborate, share ideas and connect in a space that is relaxed and informal.

The National Australia Bank Village Customer Innovation Centre provides a destination for users and NAB customers to meet, collaborate, share ideas and connect in a space that is relaxed and informal. 

 

2. Biophilic design depends on repeated and constant engagement with nature. Having an occasional, temporary or single experience of nature uses only brief and superficial effects on people and can offer a variety of benefits. 

Designed Japanese architectural firm Tezuka Architects

Designed Japanese architectural firm Tezuka Architects

Gencork turns cork into thread to create sustainable furniture and lighting

Gencork turns cork into thread to create sustainable furniture and lighting

 

3. Biophilic design requires highlighting and incorporating design elements that connect with the overall setting or space that you are in. The optimum functioning of humans depends on the engagement within the environments where various elements embrace a harmonising, strengthening and interconnected space. Exposures to nature within a disconnected space such as an out of context picture, isolated plant or a natural material in the wrong place is not effective Biophilic design.

Organic House / Javier Senosiain Cortesía de Javier Senosiain

Organic House  Designed by Javier Senosiain

4. Biophilic design adopts emotional attachments to settings and places that we surround ourselves with. By satisfying our inherent feeling to connect with nature, Biophilic design causes an emotional attachment to particular spaces and places. These emotional attachments motivate people’s performance and productivity and stimulate us to identify with and maintain the places we live.

Designed by @wafai___ A dynamic living space that is driven by emotions and desire .

Designed by @wafai___ A dynamic living space that is driven by emotions and desire .

5. Biophilic design promotes positive and continuous connections and relationships among people and the natural environment. Humans are a deeply social type whose security and productivity depends on positive interactions within spatial context. Effective Biophilic design adopts connections between people and their environment, enhancing feelings of relationship and a sense of belonging in a meaningful community.

Earth Tones Set The Mood Of This Apartment Interior Design By Consuelo Jorge

Earth Tones Set The Mood Of This Apartment Interior Design By Consuelo Jorge
Designed Alan Tay and Seetoh Kum Loon, partners of Formwerkz
Alan Tay and Seetoh Kum Loon, partners of Formwerkz

It is important to recognise that Biophilic design is more than just a new way to make people more effective by applying a new way of design. The successful application of biophilic design essentially depends on adopting a new self-awareness towards nature, recognising how much of our physical and mental wellbeing continues to rely our connections to the world and its surroundings.

 

Finishes Market by YPASA is a campus in Mexico City,designed by interior design firm SPACE

Finishes Market by YPASA is a campus in Mexico City,designed by interior design firm SPACE