Biophilic Design – What the heck is it?


“Biophilic Design” – Just another buzzword or phrase joining terms such as “circadian rhythm”, “holistic design”, “purified air”, “acoustical comfort”, and more?

Biophilic designIf you’d come across the word “biophilia” a few years ago, you may well have considered it dodgy! However, biophilia is not a term that requires a “nod/nudge/wink response” but rather describes mankind’s innate connection to nature – a genetically determined result of living outdoors for a few hundred thousand years. It is likely we will hear this word a lot more over the next few years.

Indoor living is making us sick

Experts in the fields of wellness, explain that our biology was created for outdoor living, but modern lifestyles determine we spend more than 90% of time indoors. We’ve replaced natural climate conditions (sun/shade/cool breezes) and the cyclical passage of the days and seasons, with 24/7 lighting, air-conditioning at consistent temperatures, and with sounds, smells and visual displays that are supposed to boost productivity – but instead make us sick!

Biophilic designThe Answer

The solution apparently is to bring nature back into our lives – and where reality is not possible, we can fake it very effectively to achieve the same beneficial results!

Research to date is pretty clear on the health benefits of certain simulations from nature, such as circadian lighting, climate control incorporating air movement and purification, and visual displays featuring scenes from nature, with an acoustic background of trickling streams, and bird song. The established premise is that regular exposure to nature – whether real or simulated – can restore physical, mental, and emotional, well being.

Biophilic Design

Biophilic design focusses on elements and arrangements intended to bring nature (or the representation of nature) into built environments.

Biophilic designSuch a design philosophy will often incorporate layers of stimuli such as:

  • Indoor air quality monitoring and purification;
  • Water purification;
  • Lighting/sound etc synched by time of day. For example dawn simulation (for 24/7 buildings) with lighting and indoor temperature mimicking sunrise, accompanied by sounds of nature;
  • Circadian lighting;
  • Green walls (with lighting to promote natural growth);
  • Resting spaces with zero gravity chairs, personal audio for meditation or accelerated sleep sequences;
  • Colour therapy via lighting control;
  • Sound therapy and aromatherapy for pre-programmed cycles e.g. to soothe, to calm, to relax, to energise;
  • Night sky simulation via LED lighting and fibre optics;
  • ‘Theatre’ environment set up as an ‘outdoor simulator’;
  • Visual and aural simulations of nature;
  • Acoustical isolation.

To incorporate biophilic elements into your building, integration and automated control of your building systems will be necessary. Speak to us today for obligation-free advice.