Children experience nature in a unique way. To adults, nature is mostly just a background for their activities. Children aren’t just focused on visual aesthetics. Natural objects present in their surroundings are an experiential aspect of their activities.
Greenery, even artificial tree branches, and pictures of the natural world have a stimulating effect on children. Proximity to these objects nurtures their Biophilia—the innate desire to connect with nature.
In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of biophilic design patterns and share 5 of the simplest, most economical ways of incorporating them into a primary school’s architecture.
Why integrate biophilia in primary schools?
Research has revealed that learning spaces with daylight can improve students’ performance at a faster rate. During a year-long analysis of 2,000 classrooms, access to daylight was found to improve the students’ math scores 20 percent faster. During the same study, the students’ reading scores improved 26 percent faster.
Optimizing the students’ exposure to natural light has also been found to improve attendance and the overall learning speed. The presence of plants in classrooms can improve the students’ math, science, and spelling scores by 10-14 percent.
Nurturing the students’ biophilia during their formative years also prevents Biophobia—a condition wherein the subject develops an aversion to nature. Individuals suffering from biophobia may experience extreme discomfort in natural environments.
Biophilic design patterns promote positive interactions with nature on a regular basis. These experiences help students grow comfortable with nature and develop respect and empathy for it.
5 excellent, economical biophilic design patterns for primary schools
- Green Entry Points
Having a tree or two, either natural or artificial, at the school’s entrance can have a great visual impact. It’ll be a lot more than that for the students. They’ll associate the simple act of walking into the school with entering a natural environment.
Acacia, cedar, cypress, palm, and bamboo are all excellent choices for this role. They’re all beautiful, yet not too flamboyant—the students will notice them without being too captivated.
The school’s reception area and entry point to the classrooms, cafeteria, playroom, playground, and washroom can all benefit from similar treatment.
Look for compact trees and moderate-sized potted plants. Something like an acacia bonsai or a faux palm plant will be ideal for these locations.
- Branded Green Walls
Branded green walls are a wonderful way of including the school’s name into the design without looking pretentious. These artificial green walls can be customized using a variety of realistic faux plants and in any pattern.
Artificial green walls can be installed on virtually every surface, including concrete, plywood, and brick. They can be used indoors—in corridors, classrooms, and cafeterias, as well as on the exterior walls.
Boxwood, azalea, and English ivy are some of the most popular choices for green walls. You can also incorporate grasses and a mix of different realistic faux plants into your walls.
If you don’t want to cover the entire wall with green, you have the choice of artificial green wall panels. These can be customized into virtually every shape, size, and pattern to meet different design needs.
- Eye-catchy Green Playrooms and Cafeterias
School playrooms and cafeterias are areas fit for the more extravagant and ornamental plants and trees. Insects, twigs, broken leaves, flowers, and other plant materials are undesirable at such locations. That makes artificial trees and plants an automatic choice.
A large tropical or fruit tree at the center of the playroom will create instant, lasting interest. There are plenty of fun ways to decorate with faux tree branches. You can stack or scatter these around the tree, create wooden arbors or art projects.
A decorative pine tree, fake palm plant, faux orange or cherry blossom tree will be excellent for these spaces. Artificial vines such as jasmine and bougainvillea can be wrapped around indoor trees or added to hanging baskets to include more color in the space.
You can use compact potted faux plants around the sitting areas. Potted grasses—dune, fountain, and Egyptian grass are perfect for the task. Faux hedges are great for defining space as well as separating different areas of a room.
- Classrooms Imbued with Natural Vibrance
The teacher’s desk is the most visible area of the classroom. A potted plant at the desk will place a natural specimen in full view. The sides of the chalkboard, too, are great spots for some potted plants.
Something like an aloe plant will be perfect for the desk. It has a vivid coloration, a distinctive appearance, and has plenty of common uses and benefits. As such, it can also serve as an educational instrument. You can switch the desk plant every so often; introduce the students to different plants.
Artificial tropical trees such as the Dragon tree and Bird of Paradise have intriguing forms and vivid colors. They’ll look fabulous at the sides of the chalkboard.
If the classroom includes windows, you can include some potted plants along the windowsills. Cacti, peperomia, and fiddle-leaf fig are all great choices for the location. If you wish to include more color, flowering plants such as hibiscus and begonia are some easy-care, eye-catchy contenders.
The presence of plants in the classroom can be used as an opportunity to promote love and respect for nature. Students can be involved in the act of watering and general care of the plants.
Faux flowering plants are a good alternative for windows that don’t receive the amount of sunlight their natural counterparts need.
- Natural Playgrounds
Playgrounds are invariably the students’ favorite school area. Replacing the steel slides and climbers with slides and climbers made from natural materials can make them more enjoyable.
The opportunities are infinite. Topiary animals, logs, and tree stumps can be arranged to create separate play areas.
Look for benches, swings, and slides that are made from natural or natural-looking materials such as stone, wood, or faux wood. Rope-and-plank swings, tree stump trails, and wooden bridges are some fun ways to make the playground more biophilic.
Don’t forget the plants. Playgrounds are the perfect place for including sprawling trees and lush groundcovers. If you opt for faux tropical plants or trees, make sure they’re made from weather-resistant materials.
There you have it—5 biophilic design patterns you can integrate into any primary school without spending a fortune. Plan well, choose plants and materials with care, and you’ll be able to implement these without spending much time or labor.