Biophilic design has become a buzzword in modern design talks. As the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic become more apparent to researchers, the need for a connection with nature has also become more evident.
In this article, we'll explore how biophilic design can help answer questions around navigating the new normal in design and engineering fields.
A Brief History of Biophilic Design
Biophilic design has been a way of living and building for far longer than the modern world gives it credit. The formal concept of biophilia was first introduced by E.O. Wilson when he published his book Biophilia in 1984. The book identified a tendency in humans to be attracted to nature. It said we even go so far as to emulate nature's structures in our everyday lives. The style of biophilic design was born out of this concept.
Biophilic design itself is a term that has only recently been coined. However, there are indications of biophilic design dating back to the architecture of the ancient Babylonians. You can find a specific example if you look at the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
As Ralph Walder Emerson puts it, the design language that is designing with nature has become even more popular in the current global climate. COVID-19 has dramatically changed our views of office life and the impact of the workspace on daily life.
How Biophilic Design Has Changed From the COVID-19 Pandemic
COVID-19 has renewed our association with the outdoors being a place of health and safety. Studies have shown that being outdoors is one of the safest places to avoid the spread of the illness. While we may be unable to spend all of our time outdoors, especially as we prepare for a return to the office, this desire for nature and space remains.
In addition, because of the pandemic, people have become even more aware of their surroundings. They have been made very aware that their environments can significantly impact their health and wellness. This is especially true of offices with poor ventilation or without room for social distancing.
Biophilic design has seen a resurgence in popularity due to these global perspective shifts. However, it has also changed some of the ways that biophilic design is applied to modern architecture. These changes are meant to better the impact indoor spaces have on our health, physically, mentally, and emotionally. As a result, biophilic design has become an additional means of creating safer places to live and work.
How to Embrace Modern Biophilic Design
As perspectives have shifted, designers and engineers have to answer questions about applying this design language in real-life settings. For example, how do you create a safer office space, and how can you integrate biophilic design to do this?
Here are our top suggestions for how you can embrace biophilic design as a part of modern design and engineering.
Integrate Outdoor Space
Bringing a sense of the outdoors in has always been a significant part of successful biophilic design. There are numerous ways to do this, depending on your building's design. Often, these kinds of applications are necessary to consider at the design stage or during a remodel. It is sometimes challenging to integrate your space with the surrounding landscape after your building is built.
One of the ways you can bring the outdoors inside is to create pavilions of space that flow from the outdoors to the indoors. You can also integrate more outdoor spaces available from within the building, such as terraces, roof gardens, central living or working spaces with moving ceilings or large skylights. Letting in plenty of light and having access to a flow of fresh air is integral even if you can't have entirely outdoor spaces.
Add Living Walls
Living walls are a direct way to bring the outdoors inside and integrate biophilic design, but without having to remodel your building or change its structure and layout. They can be brought into your space in a wide range of scales, from entire columns spanning multiple floors to accent walls in a smaller office space. The scale doesn't diminish their benefits and yet can significantly impact the health and happiness of those living and working in the building.