Biophilic Architecture: Reconnecting humans with nature

Nature comes first and the only thing in our mind when we think of relaxation, be it the view of the mountains or the forest, sound of the water or the breeze. No one ever imagines inside the four walls but that’s where we spend 90% of our times.

The adaption of Biophilic Architecture in today’s World is increasing as we are becoming more aware of the importance of human connection with nature. 

Biophilia hypothesis tells us that “humans are healthier when they are connected to nature.” It claims that we humans are genetically attracted to nature and every human love the natural world.

We are living in a world where making nature a part of our busy routine has become top most priority. Not always we are able to go and enjoy the time in nature, but we can bring nature to us.

This green façade with terrace gardens provides exemplary views to the users and adds beauty to city skyline.
Photo by Polina Chistyakova from Pexels

Biophilic design concept-

Biophilic design is a concept that aims at connecting the building occupants to the natural environment. Biophilic architecture has proven benefits on human’s overall efficiency including quick recovery of hospital patients, productive results of office workers, learning in children.

Biophilic design is much more than just bringing the outside in, it’s about creating an experience of the natural environment.

Why is biophilic architecture important?

Our built environment is critical to human health, productivity, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual well-being and that’s how biophilic architecture can boost a person’s life. Many studies have proven the impact of nature on human life-

The list can go on and on. What’s important is that designing with natural elements not only benefits aesthetically but also cleans the air and improves our lifestyle.

Biophilic design elements-

Connecting to the nature doesn’t mean plotting a plant or two in our spaces, but how parts or the overall space creates a different experience for us. Biophilic design makes us have a direct physical contact with nature even after being in a building parameter.

Biophilic architecture allows us to use our senses for us to interact with spaces. So, how can we actually embrace biophilic design concept in our buildings?

– Organic materials and patterns-

Biophilic design concept relies on sustainable materials that saves the environment from unnecessary impact. The natural patterns and textures that we can sense through vision or touch and delivers pure and organic aesthetics. Wood is another great way to have connection with outdoors; visible wooden grains help us relax our nervous system.

– Sound and scent-

Sound and smell we sense even while we are occupied and not directly looking at it. In the quest for nature, integrating soothing natural sounds like that of water by adding water falls, fountains, and scents of nature.

– Natural light-

We all are aware of the importance of natural light into our spaces and there is no doubt on why do we need it. Direct or indirect light is the key to brighten our mood and keep us healthy. Natural lights merge the inside and outside with the elements of warmth and abstract shadow patterns.

Semi-open space and natural light connecting the space with outdoors.

– Thermal comfort-

Maintaining the temperature in the interiors with natural materials and techniques instead of providing the mechanical cooling and heating system.  This can be achieved by proper orientation of buildings based upon the sun and wind direction, use of cavity walls, and many such techniques.

– Natural shapes, and forms-

By taking in the natural shapes like arches, vaults, rock shelves, water paths, etc. we can promote biophilia into architecture. This can also be achieved by incorporating fabrics, finishes, artworks, and wall treatments of natural elements.

– Access to nature indoors-

No doubt on how green space is now becoming a part of the architecture and so beautifully buildings are blending into the environment. Be it vertical garden, courtyard, moss art, green roofs, air purifying plants becomes a great use for biophilic architecture.

– Views and vistas-

Merging the outdoor spaces with indoors by providing direct natural views. Providing large full height windows maybe near a lounge area can give a sense of mindfulness.

Biophilic architecture examples to get inspired from-

  • The Spheres, Seattle, United States-

Spheres is the ultramodern office building housing nearly 40,000 plants, living walls, and various elements from nature. This Amazon building connects the employees directly with nature in the midst of the urban setting. The most exemplary element of this building is the trio of the glass spheres that lets in the abundance of natural light and houses multi-level botanical garden. The Spheres are a perfect example of building in a garden.

  • One Central Park, Sydney, Australia-

This apartment tower made from glass and steel has been given a soft touch with the green façade. The building adds much needed life to city’s skyline which is generally hindered by the buildings. A heliostat crowning the building captures sunlight and redirects sunlight in different areas of One Central Park.

  • Panyaden School, Thailand-

The Buddhist school building is created entirely from earth’s elements, such as local bamboo and local earth. The organic curving roof profiles mimic the mountains at the horizon in the lush green site. This architectural marvel is an ode to nature’s beauty.

  • Karolinska Institute gym by Biofit, Stockholm-

The medical university gym proved that biophilic architecture is not only limited to large scale projects. The naturals elements in this gym space includes air-purifying plants, wall murals, circadian lighting, etc. to help improve wellness and boosts energy. Even the gym equipment here are inspired from nature including lifting logs, natural fibre climbing ropes, eco-friendly sandbags, sustainable cork foot massage balls, etc. The gym provides a fitness break in the natural environment to the medical students.

The idea behind biophilic design is to bring the natural world back in urban setting. There will always be restrictions in form of budget, square footage, safety, etc. but even the slightest touch can bring a great impact on users. So, find your ways to include nature into your buildings depending upon your space.

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