A “deeply ingrained love of nature.” That’s one way to look at biophilia. “An innate tendency to seek connections with nature” is how another authority defines biophilia. We could go in, in fact. The American biologist E.O. Wilson elaborated this concept in 1984.
Ancient civilizations have included natural elements while designing their homes. This trend continued till the wave of industrialization and urbanization swept across the world. And since the recent past, there is a renewed interest in designing biophilia-inspired properties.
Note the following:
- By 2030, the world would have more than 40 megacities (as per UN estimates). A megacity is one where more than 10 million people reside.
- This implies extensive urbanization. This would result in the creation of more concrete jungles.
- The resultant fallouts would be higher pollution, altered light patterns, and rapid evolution of urban plants and animals in response to the changes. This evolutionary trend is in stark contrast to the Darwinian theory.
- Urban greenery suffers from inequitable distribution, as per research. People of certain colors and races have much less access to greenery as compared to others.
- The recent COVID-19 pandemic-induced restrictions on gatherings have made it more necessary to have ample greenery in the cities. This would facilitate access to nature while maintaining social distancing.
- This underscores the importance of incorporating natural elements in urban design.
Biophilia can have various representations. A cluster of bushes in a residential locality. A row of trees in the central business district. Hanging greenery décor – natural or artificial – inside offices. And these are just to name a few.
Key Benefits of Biophilic Urban Designs
Better Health and Well-being
Greenery and a connection to the natural world ensure much higher levels of physical and mental health. It helps to better the quality of air that we breathe. It provides places of recreation. And it brings down anxiety and stress levels. This can ease some burden on the urban healthcare facilities.
Fortification Against Environmental Threats
Climate change, and the resultant impact, are a cause for concern for most cities. Rising temperatures, tidal surges in coastal cities, etc. are a direct fallout of mishandling of the ecosystem. Reintroducing nature into the cities can protect the latter to a large extent.
A case in point is the mangrove population in certain coastal areas. They help to protect against cyclone-related tidal surges. Also, properly managed urban wetlands can act as a measure against flooding.
Increasing urbanization has resulted in substantial habitat loss for many species of flora and fauna. But with more biophilic urban designing, this loss can be reversed to a fair extent. E.g. living walls and roofs improve the visual aesthetics. They also serve as a habitat for birds, pollinators, and other forms of animal life.
Biophilic Designs – Where are They Applicable?
Well, everywhere. From the entire city to a specific address in the city. There is no end to which you can consider integrating natural elements in urban designing.
However, over the years, biophilia is finding higher usage in several key sectors of urban living across the world. These sectors are – workplaces, hospitality, and healthcare. And in the cities of the future, these sectors will take to more biophilic designs.
Biophilia in the Workplace
Research has shown that biophilic-designed workplaces ensure higher creativity and better cognitive function in employees. A considerable amount of time is spent at the workplace every day. Many offices don’t have ample lighting or greenery in them. And having – or not having – greenery at the workplace can impact the decision of prospective employees to work or not work there.
Thankfully, several employers around the world are increasingly looking at biophilia to improve employees’ productivity. This extends to both the interiors and outdoors of the workplace.
The office floor area might not allow for placing larger plants. Then, you can go for wall-mounted planter boxes. These do not take up much space. At the same time, you can place small and colorful plants in them.
Biophilia in the Hospitality Sector
Hotels are not just places with rooms to stay. They are increasingly looking to become an experience for the guests. And biophilic designs, among others, are showing them the way. Place a large triangle planter box in the lobby or the lawn. Keep the décor earthy and natural. Place potted plants, large or small, in the reception area and the passages. Even the rooms can have some faux greenery in small tile planters.
These are just a few ways to make the stay enjoyable and memorable for the guests. This also helps the hotel to stand out among its peers.
Biophilia in the Healthcare Sector
While recuperating, patients need more than medicines and a good diet. And ample greenery around them is that much-needed “something more.” That’s what the countryside sanatoriums ensure. And even the urban hospitals are ensuring this. A terrace or balcony garden outside the patients’ rooms can be a great source of serenity. A lawn with a small waterfall. A planter box that’s mounted on the wall or from the roof of the patients’ rooms. Simple but effective ways to bring a sense of mental calmness.
Biophilic Designs – Natural and Faux
It’s best to have a completely natural biophilic design element incorporated in urban design. This applies to both exterior and interior designs. However, in many cases, many urban organizations suffer from a paucity of space. Proper maintenance of natural greenery is another challenge in many situations.
These constraints needed a solution. And this solution has come in the form of biophilic designs. This trend has caught up over the years. Today, many urban planners around the world are taking to faux plants while making their design plans. Natural and faux biophilic designs are co-existing in many instances.
Plantscape Commercial silk brings you the best of biophilic designs for your workplace. Explore the options and select the best green design to make your workplace much more attractive for every stakeholder. The effort would be worth it.