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What is Biophilic Design and Why is it Important for our Health?

Updated: Sep 2, 2022

Learn why #biophilicdesign, this design approach is very important to create healthy spaces for human well-being


"The natural world is the refuge of the spirit, remote, static, richer even than human imagination" – Edward O. Wilson

Biophilia comes from the word in greek Bio and Philia. The first one means life, the second love, so it means love for life. Humans have evolved to have this biological instinct and connection with nature. That is the reason why we feel calm and relaxed when we are surrounded by nature. Whether it is fire, waves, forests, the sky, or even sunsets, we feel connected. Are not sunsets amazing? Are you a sunset lover? Biophilic design has become more relevant than ever because it helps to improve the quality of life and well- being of people working and living in healthy spaces and places. It has been shown that biophilic design has healing effects, enhances creativity, reduces stress, and since more humans are living in cities, we need to make these urban places and spaces healthier.


Nowadays, we may think this is a new concept. However, biophilic design has been used throughout the history of humankind, and cultures have used it intuitively on their buildings. An example of this can be seen in ancient cultures like Greek and Egyptian. They portray natural forms and animals on their projects or like the gardens of Babylon.


Biophilic design is more than having trees and plants on architectural projects. It has broader aspects that we are going to mention below and is divided into 3 categories: Nature in the spatial patterns, Natural Analogues Patterns, and Nature of the Space Patterns. Let's start with the first

1.

Nature in the Space Patterns


Nature in space patterns refers to direct experience with nature on architectural projects. The physical presence of nature in the environment can be water, fire, trees, animals, sounds, breezes, among others. It is relevant because we experience the world with all our senses, and biophilic design has to appeal to all of them. We divide this physical presence into the visual and non-visual experiences.


  • Visual Connection with Nature:

Light:

Light produces shadows, and the variation on the intensity mimics natural environments that make us feel good. It also provides the mood we want to evoke in certain spaces and helps us being healthy because light affects our circadian rhythm. This is the internal clock that controls sleeping and feeding patterns. Having access to direct sunlight also helps us synthesize vitamin d that helps to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in our bodies. Some “research showed that productivity is higher in well-daylighted workplaces, sales are higher in daylit stores and that children performed better in daylighted classrooms with views. The research focus was on lighting strategy and task performance and less on human biology. For instance, quality daylighting has been reported to induce more positive moods.”(Nicklas & Bailey, 1996).


Plants and Natural Landscapes:

Having green indoor spaces and outdoor spaces brings a direct relationship with nature. It has been shown that being surrounded by nature helps to reduce stress, have a “more positive emotional functioning, improved concentration, and recovery rates. Stress recovery from visual connections with nature have reportedly been realized through lowered blood pressure and heart rate; reduced attentional fatigue, sadness, anger, and aggression; improved mental engagement/attentiveness, attitude and overall happiness.” (2014, Terrapin Bright Green). Do a test yourself, which of the following environments do you prefer, and why? We bet you will choose the green one! That happens because “Viewing scenes of nature stimulates a larger portion of the visual cortex than non-nature scenes, which triggers more pleasure receptors in our brain, leading to prolonged interest and faster stress recover.” (2014, Terrapin Bright Green).








Animals:

Having this type is not so easy to achieve in the built environment. However, we can have gardens to cultivate to attract bees and other pollinators and animal feeders to attract birds. When humans are connected with animals, it brings feelings of pleasure, mental stimulation, and interest.

Fire:

Considered as one of the fourth element, bringing fire to spaces can bring color, light, warmth, and movement. Now tell us, what do you feel when you are around a fire burning marshmallows?



  • Non-Visual Connection with Nature:


This experimentation includes all of the other senses, the smell, noise, touch, and taste. A space like this feels fresh and balanced. Now we are going to mention the benefits for each one:


Noise:

Studies have shown that “exposure to natural sounds, when compared to urban or office noise, accelerates physiological and psychological restoration up to 37% faster after a psychological stressor” (Alvarsson et al., 2010).


Olfactory:

Our olfactory system can trigger many powerful memories. Also, smelling certain oils helps to reduce stress, generates calmness, or energize people. That is the reason why spas use certain smells coming from plants on spaces and massages.


Haptic:

Interacting with animals, gardening, and horticulture activities have been shown to engender environmental stewardship among children, reduce self-reported fatigue while maintaining joint flexibility among adults (e.g., Yamane et al., 2004), and reduce the perception of pain among seniors’ populations with arthritis. The act of touching real plant life, versus synthetic plants, has also been shown to induce relaxation through a change in cerebral blood flow rates (e.g., Koga & Iwasaki, 2013). These examples give reason to believe that the experience of touching other elements in nature, such as water or raw materials, may result in similar health outcomes.

Air:

Having the correct ventilation and humidity is crucial in any space because it inhibits the growth of fungi and bacteria, which can cause certain types of illnesses. It can also control the temperature to keep places fresh and improve air quality. Airflow can help with comfort and productivity.

Water:

This molecule represents life. Whenever there is water, there is life, at least as we know it. The is not a single organism on the earth that can survive for long periods without water. This molecule incorporates sound, touch, taste, and sight. It is a multisensory element that reduces stress, improves health, reduces blood pressure, and a loving heart rate and overall satisfaction.


Weather:

Being able to see the weather from our window while working or watching the sunrise or sunset is priceless. This provides awareness and mental stimulation and helps to keep our circadian rhythms in check.



2.

Indirect experience of nature: Natural Analogues Patterns:



This is referred to as forms, objects, or patterns that do not come from natural environments but somehow represent nature or are inspired by it.



Biomorphic Forms, Patterns & Biomimicry:

Biomimicry is referred to design strategies that study and found in natural environments solutions to human and technical problems. To achieve this, Marmaroph is committed to having a multi-disciplinary team, not just architects but also biologists and engineers that help us innovate in the manufacturing processes and design. Imitating nature can help us to resolve some problems that nature already has a solution. Also, having biomorphic forms and natural geometries that represent nature, enhances cognitive performance while helping reduce stress.



Material Connection with Nature & Colors:

Having natural materials on architectural projects can be mentally stimulating and allows humans to connect with nature differently. That is why we use wood, stone, or copper on our projects. Watching materials have their natural oxidation process like the patina from copper shows us the natural process of materials, which humans find stimulating. Studies have shown that a room with 60% of wood usage makes people feel more comfortable. Also, using colors found in nature like browns and blues generates tranquility, and greens enhance creativity.


11. Complexity & Order:

The objective of the Complexity & Order pattern is to provide symmetries and fractal geometries, configured with a coherent spatial hierarchy, to create a visually nourishing environment that engenders a positive psychological or cognitive response (Salingaros, 2012). These types of geometries can be used on wallpapers, carpets designs, facades design, or roof structural design.



3.

Experience of Space and Place: Nature of the Space Patterns


Prospect:

This term emphasizes the horizons, huge spaces, and movement providing a sense of freedom. Using transparent materials like glass and balconies, catwalks, and staircase landings allow the views of the horizons. Also, designing with open floor plans and sights with trees, bodies of water or evidence of human habitation can make a good prospect.


Refuge:

Unlike Prospect, the refuge provides a sense of protection and safety. We often design refuge to spaces for reading, mediation, rest or relaxation, complex cognitive tasks. As a result, indoor places are more private with lowered ceilings and Lowered or varied light color, temperature, or brightness.


Mystery:

The Mystery pattern is largely based on the idea that people have two basic needs in environments: to understand and to explore (Kaplan & Kaplan, 1989) and that these basic needs should occur “from one’s current position” to engender a sense of mystery (Herzog and Bryce, 2007). Mystery characterizes a place where an individual feels compelled to move forward to see what is around the corner; it is the partially revealed view ahead. The objective of the Mystery pattern is to provide a functional environment that encourages exploration in a manner that supports stress reduction and cognitive restoration. We can generate this feeling with curved edges, Auditory stimulation from an imperceptible source


Risk/Peril:

It may sound that we would not want to have risk feelings in the spaces we inhabit. However, when humans feel a controlled risk, it can have a positive effect on our brains because it generates intense concentrations of dopamine so, it makes us feel pleasure. When we produce dopamine, it helps us with memory, problem-solving, and supports motivation. But, we do not want the overproduction of dopamine because it can cause depression and mood disorders. Some of the design features that can cause these feelings are Infinity edges, Experiences or objects that are perceived to be defying or testing gravity, Passing under, over, or through water, Façade with floor-to-ceiling transparency, and Architectural cantilevers, among others.


To conclude, Marmaroph strongly believes that by designing with the biophilic design we can help to improve the well-being of humans and the environment. We are committed to design and construct healthy environments that improve the quality of life of our users with wonderful experiences. The biophilic design just reflects the obvious and intuitive characteristics that make humans feel good in an environment. We need to make more healthy environments since the majority of the population is going to live in cities.


Well, that's all for now! But if you are interested and want to know more about some topics that we have mentioned above, you can read other articles that talk about them more deeply. So go ahead, we will love it if you learn more about architecture and of course, Marmaroph! If you are looking for a new project because you want to move in, we are the right choice. If you have any questions or would like to buy or quote a project, do not be afraid and contact us, we are looking forward to knowing you and help you!


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We would love if you take some of your precious time and leave us responses to the questions !


We keep investigating and learning more about our customers and users lifestyle, in order to design spaces that truly adapt to people. That is why we would like to know more about you!


  1. What does a healthy space means to you ?

  2. What are the most important healthy habits you have?

  3. What type of materials do you consider healthy?

  4. Before reading this article, did you know what is Biophilic Design?




 

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