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The design philosophy of biophilia, which involves bringing nature indoors, has been found to have numerous benefits, including improved thinking, relaxation, and creativity. Many companies, including Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Westin Hotels, have incorporated biophilic design principles into their buildings. Biophilia is rooted in the ancient idea that humans need a connection to the natural world in order to be happy and thrive. The concept was popularized by naturalist and philosopher Edward O. Wilson in the 1980s, and the principles behind biophilic design were initially developed to optimize zoo habitats. While some companies are using biophilic design to boost productivity, it is not yet widely implemented in office spaces.

What is the Scientific Evidence for Biophilia?

There are many studies that suggest natural light, fresh air, and outdoor views are good for our health. According to a study conducted by researchers in the Northwestern University neuroscience lab in 2013, working in a room with natural light can increase productivity, improve mood, and enhance sleep quality. People who worked in a space with natural light got an additional 46 minutes of sleep compared to those who worked in a windowless space with artificial light.

A small 2015 study conducted in Korea and published by the National Institutes of Health found that young men who were asked to transfer a plant to a new pot or perform a task on the computer felt more relaxed after working with the plants. They also experienced a drop in diastolic blood pressure.

If you need to regain focus during the workday, take a short walk outside or look at a photo or painting of a natural scene. According to neuroscientists, gazing at a natural scene for 40 seconds or more lets the brain’s prefrontal cortex take a break. This can help you come back to work with renewed attention.

In a fascinating study published in 1984 by the National Institutes of Health, researchers found that people who had a garden view recovered faster after surgery and required less pain medication than those who had a view of a brick wall.

How Can You Incorporate Biophilic Design in Your Home?

You can bring nature inside your home, rearrange the layout, and choose patterns that mimic the natural world. Browning and his team identified various aspects of biophilia in the paper “14 Patterns of Biophilic Design,” published in the journal Terrapin, and their book “Nature Inside: A Biophilic Design Guide,” commissioned by The Royal Institute of British Architects, will be released in September 2020.

If you want to make easy changes to your home environment, start with the views and then move on to carpeting, wall coverings, blinds, and fabrics with nature-based patterns, such as sunlight through leaves, waves of grass in a field, or flames. Here are some easy ideas to begin with:

1. Create a Refuge

A refuge is a place where your back is protected and you have a canopy overhead. This could be a canopy bed, a patio seat under an umbrella, a high-back chair, or even a seat next to a window or fireplace. “You can withdraw from the action and recharge your batteries,” says Browning. It’s especially soothing if you’ve been sheltering in place with others.

2. Add Some Plants

Houseplants are an easy way to start your biophilic design journey. But don’t stop at one philodendron, pilea peperomioides, or Kimberly Queen fern. Group several plants together to create a small verdant habitat. “We seem to respond better to plants when they are grouped together,” says Browning.

3. Enhance Your View

According to Browning, it is essential to open curtains or rearrange furniture to have a clear view of the outdoors, particularly if it includes trees, plants, birds, or butterflies. A long and extensive view, preferably 100 feet (30 meters) or more, is ideal for allowing the muscles at the back of the eyes to relax, which is crucial in reducing eyestrain caused by working on computers.

The medicinal benefits of nature have been known for centuries, and this is now backed by scientific research that supports biophilic design. In his essay, “Nature,” poet Emerson stated over 100 years ago that “The health of the eye seems to demand a horizon.”

Now, That’s Interesting

Mumbai architect Sanjay Puri is a firm believer in the power of outdoor spaces, and he refuses to design any project without one. If a client does not want an open terrace, courtyard, or expansive view windows, he takes the time to explain why it is necessary. In Ishatvam 9, his award-winning residential tower that resembles a stack of trapezoids, every apartment has a private and soaring terrace.

FAQ

1. What is Biophilic Design?

Biophilic Design is a concept that involves bringing the natural world indoors to increase the well-being of humans. It incorporates natural elements such as plants, water features, and natural materials to create a more calming and relaxing environment.

2. How does Biophilic Design benefit us?

Biophilic Design has been shown to have a positive impact on our mental and physical health. Being surrounded by natural elements can reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood and cognitive function, and increase productivity. It can also improve air quality and reduce noise levels in a space.

3. How can I incorporate Biophilic Design into my home or office?

There are many ways to incorporate Biophilic Design into your space. You can add plants, natural materials such as wood or stone, water features, and even natural lighting. Creating a view of nature, such as a window with a view of a garden or park, can also be beneficial.

4. What are some examples of Biophilic Design in architecture?

Some examples of Biophilic Design in architecture include buildings with green roofs or walls, courtyards with trees and plants, and buildings with large windows that provide views of nature. Some architects have even incorporated natural elements into the design of their buildings, such as using materials like bamboo or creating spaces that mimic a natural landscape.

5. Is Biophilic Design a new concept?

While the term “Biophilic Design” may be relatively new, the concept has been around for centuries. Many ancient cultures incorporated natural elements into their architecture and design, such as the use of gardens and water features in Islamic architecture. However, it has only been in recent years that the importance of Biophilic Design for our well-being has been recognized and studied.

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