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Trend Alert: Biophilic Design
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives in a myriad of dramatic and unprecedented ways. While we are now living in a post pandemic world, where we spend most of our time indoors.
Have you ever noticed how you feel better when you are outside? Something that is a great luxury in the post-pandemic world. A humble potted plant can bring a sense of happiness or even joy! This feeling is what constitutes the fundamentals of Biophilia, a concept that Edward O. Wilson has coined 1984. Biophilia is the urge for humans to affiliate with other life. More recently. We see that incorporating Biophilic design indoors improves the physiological and psychological health of the user, which is especially important as people these days on an average, spend most of the day indoors.
What is Biophilic Design?
In order to fully understand the use of Biophilic elements, you have to first understand what Biophilia actually is. When we look at life now, we realise that most of us spend a lot of time indoors away from nature. Especially in urban scenarios, most adults go to a green space less than once a month! Which is very hard to believe. Before humans evolved and started gathering in big cities, we were connected and bonded to nature.
We lived simple lives, in small settlements. Urban sprawls have become the norm now, making the rapid growth of cities which cost us the natural life that used to exist a long time ago.
The United Nations predicts that by 2030, 60% of the world’s population will live in urban environments. Major cities and offices are not going anywhere anytime soon, because of this Biophilic design has quickly become a solution to an existing problem of man's link to nature being strained. Biophilia is a concept that has been slowly gaining credibility with professionals.
What makes Biophilic Design?
Biophilic design not only embeds the actual physical presence of nature, such as plants and creepers etc, but also mimics the natural world through objects, textures, materials and even colors and shapes which are found in nature. The aim is to stimulate connections with nature through visual and haptic senses. This may be achieved through furniture, interior decor or architecture in itself.
The color and material palette is aplenty when it comes to Biophilic design, earthy colors, natural materials, organic shapes, botanic prints, and lush green plants all come together to create a Biophilic symphony.
How to ‘DO’ biophilic design:
Large windows and portals:
Maybe the simplest, but the most effective way to create a connection with the outside is to open up the barrier between ‘inside’ and ‘outside. Wherever natural light is found, make use of it by introducing large open windows which let in ample sunlight. Arrange your seating and workspaces and reading areas near direct or diffused sunlight. Something as simple makes a big impact and can do wonders to improve your mood and visual comfort. Essentially, exposure to daylight has us being in connecting with the outside light, this keeps us on track with our 24 hour cycle.
Incorporate furniture that has natural wood, usually furniture with slabs of un-touched wood which show the materials natural grains and variations would be ideal.
Others such materials such as:
- Reclaimed wood.
- Linen and cotton
- Natural stone.
Add materials such as rattan, bamboo and stone in their most authentic, closest to nature self. The advantage is that since the material is natural and comes straight from nature they don't have that ‘finished’ or ‘formal’ look. Include material that has efflorescence (which is the gradual maturation or change), such as metal that patinas or wood that age. This non-uniformity can create the right tone for a natural, Biophilic design.
Curate shapes which follow biomorphic design patterns. Such as honeycomb shapes, which are naturally occurring in nature and in turn use them in places like the backsplash of a kitchen, or inside the shower with tile.
Natural patterns that mimic nature are proven to have physiological benefits. Natural patterns that occur in processes of nature, through the use of rhythm and scale. We can apply this to textiles, customs paintings, floor plans etc to achieve a more organic pattern that does not conform. This non-rhythmic sensory experience is what makes the fundamentals of a natural looking design.
Water and plants:
Did you know that listening to the sound of water reduces stress? It's amazing what introducing a small body of water can do for your home and well being. Moving water and its sound works as a mild physiological stimulant. That is the reason standing at the shoreline of the beach or at the base of a waterfall is so appealing. Water can engage your sight, sound and sense of touch. Including fish swimming in an aquarium or a small aquascape tank with a water filter is a good way to introduce water as well as movement. This presence has the potential to have a positive impact. So introduce a small babble of water, or an indoor water fountain.
Plants, of course, are a must. Indoor plants are steadily gaining popularity due to the fact that they add a beautiful touch to any interior and work hard to purify the air. There are only positives to this addition. Creepers and potted plants wherever possible is a great idea. Make sure they are REAL, to get all the benefits of the Biophilic connection.
In a perfect world we would all spend time outdoors in nature. Perhaps even partake in a good bit of physical exercise. This is the ultimate goal, but the reality is that we spend less than 10% of our day outdoors. This makes the Biophilic design principles that much more important and relevant in today's world.
Image source: https://www.flexiform.co.uk/biophilic-design-can-incorporate-office-installation
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Ar. Mrudula Reddy
Master of Landscape Architecture