Biophilic Design: Nature’s Cure
Biophilic design is intended to connect humans with nature to improve their levels of health and wellbeing. Biophilic design can be defined as; a hypothetical human tendency to interact or be closely associated with other forms of life in nature : a desire or tendency to commune with nature.
It is a movement in the design community based around a theory by Edward Wilson in his book “Biophilia” released in 1984. It argues that humans have an “urge to affiliate with other forms of life” and labels this desire as biophilia.
Biophilic Design Theory
The basic premise of biophilic design is that the incorporation of nature into architectural design has many positive effects on the inhabitants of a space. Popular components of nature that are added into interiors include plants, timber, ventilation, water and natural light.
Plants: The colour green on an interior wall inspires calm as it suggests the tranquillity of nature. So, by incorporating actual green plants into interiors you can further mimic the outdoor environment. Being around plants on a regular basis has been shown to have many benefits such as cleaner indoor air, lower stress levels, higher productivity and low humidity levels.
Timber: It is warm, earthy and welcoming to live with and does not rely on access to windows and natural light. As a result, its biophilic benefits extend to windowless rooms with no natural light.
Light: Light that fluctuates over the course of a day to mimic our circadian rhythm helps link us to the outdoor environment. Maximising natural light throughout the day also enhances visual comfort.
Ventilation: Designing well-ventilated spaces so that ample fresh air can pass through open windows and doors has an exceptional effect on enhancing wellbeing (providing the air outdoors is of high-quality).
Water: Water brings a sense of calm to any space and the sound of flowing water also brings tranquillity and freshness to a room. It’s also proven to lower blood pressure, heart rate and boost memory.
By satisfying this innate desire to interact with the natural world, it is theorised that people who regularly interact with the structure, such as employees in an office building, will lead happier lives.
What Is and Isn’t Biophilic Design?
Basically, if a design is not focused on incorporating aspects of the natural world to contribute to human health and wellbeing, it is not biophilic. A distinguishing feature of biophilic design is that it is about ensuring a space is designed with the intent to incorporate large aspects of nature, not a few small components here and there. It is about the overall setting/habitat and not a single or isolated occurrence of nature.
Growth of Urban Areas
With the United Nations predicting that 60% of the world’s population will live in urban areas by 2030, biophilic design along with environmentally friendly building solutions are at the forefront of the architectural community’s collective mind. The key to incorporating biophilic design principles into a project is to integrate nature seamlessly into the structure. In areas such as workplace design, integrating plants and using natural materials like timber can have a drastic impact on employee productivity.
Workplaces that incorporate elements of biophilic design, such as natural light, plants and ventilation, are linked to decreased stress, enhanced productivity and faster recovery from illness. The inclusion of these elements also greatly increases the overall wellbeing of employees, which brings financial benefits such as less sick days taken.
It is a wonder why so many workplaces are devoid of plants and natural light. Workers worldwide cite the environment as a critical factor when looking for a new job, so architects are taking into account the role of biophilic design in creating desirable workplaces for the growing urban population. Also with the world dealing with the current pandemic, welcoming and calming spaces are more important than ever.
Creating Biophilic Designs with Sculptform
Sculptform offers a range of options to allow designers to incorporate biophilic design principles into their projects. Using natural materials, such as timber battens, are one of the most popular and simplest ways to increase a project’s biophilic value.
Using timber with Sculptform’s Click-on Batten System
Timber battens are one of the most popular options available in our Click-on Batten system, as they always bring a strong natural aesthetic to a space. Three timber species are available including Spotted Gum, Australian Ash and American Oak, providing you with the choice to ensure a suitable option is always available for any design.
Combatting fire rating considerations with Sculptform
For projects where traditional timber battens may not be appropriate due to fire ratings or weight restrictions, Real Timber Veneer and Wood Finish aluminium is also available.
Timber veneered aluminium consists of thinly cut timber wrapped around aluminium battens, giving the look and feel of timber while being lighter and achieving a Group 1 fire rating.
Wood Finish is a world-class polyolefin film applied to aluminium which is manufactured in Japan, using electron beam coating technology. It is highly durable and resistant to scratching and is deemed non-combustible under AS1530.1, meeting the fire compliance requirements for most internal and external applications.
Weaving Natural Elements into Architecture
Sculptform’s Click-on Battens also allow flexibility within a project so that nature can be integrated into the system seamlessly, providing options for how natural elements can be weaved into a project.
In our project; East Sydney Early Learning Centre, designed by Andrew Burges Architects, a structure was built around the existing trees to keep the natural aesthetic they provide.
The Workshop, designed by Bates Smart, is another project we have collaborated on which heavily focused on biophilic design, with natural light, ventilation and hanging planters overflowing with foliage dotted throughout the vast area.
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