Biophilia: the concept that is changing architecture

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© woodbagot

 

You’ve probably heard a lot about biophilia and its application in architecture. It is said that this concept has arrived to change what we know so far about interior design and construction. But what’s biophilia all about?

Biophilia or, rather, biophilic design, aims to incorporate elements of nature into urban or indoor spaces with the objective to help people feel better. That is, this concept is focused on organizing and creating spaces that contribute to the wellbeing of individuals and society.

This trend that is gaining supporters everyday approaches construction in a  different way. For biophilia a space provides information about itself, and such information is delivered to the brain through the senses.

So, there are certain questions such as: How’s the space? How does it feel like? How does it smell? that become crucial to build or design a biophilic environment. According to this concept, the responses received from body sensors help us understand the places we inhabit and therefore, provide key data to create a healthier environment.

 

Examples of applied biophilia

In a simplistic way it could be thought that applying biophilia to designs would only consist of placing a plant here and a tree there. But no, it’s not that simple.

That way, architects incorporate features of the natural world such as water, vegetation, natural light, and elements such as wood and stone to integrate nature into their designs. Another way to achieve this objective is using botanical shapes and silhouettes instead of straight lines, as well as creating the interplay of lights and shadows so common in natural environments.

 

© foster-partners_dezeen

 

Currently, hospitals are exhibiting such elements. Recently, Foster + Partners revealed images of their design for the Magdi Yacoub Global Heart Centre Cairo hospital. Among the most relevant details about this proposal is the fact that this health center was fully conceptualized based on principles of biophilic design.

 

The 300-bed hospital will have a shell-shaped roof and will be located within an “exuberant green landscape” with views of a lake and Egyptian pyramids. The spokespeople from Foster + Partners also explained to the architecture website Dezeen that they’ll maximize the use of natural light, vegetation, and exterior views in an effort to help speed up patient recovery time.

 

© Timothy-Schenck

 

However, hospitals aren’t the only ideal test sites for the application of this interesting trend. Offices are also a good environment.

 

The offices of the Australian design studio Woodsbagot, the National Australia Bank (NAB), and the administrative offices of the University of Oregon are interesting examples of biophilia. But why incorporate biophilia into work environments? Because it’s proven that biophilic architecture positively affects the absenteeism rate of employees, plus it increases productivity and creativity.

 

Urban design is another area of architecture that benefits from the biophilic approach. A good example of this is the High Line Park in New York. Seeing how a train line transforms into a public passage where visitors can enjoy more than 300 species of perennial plants, herbs, shrubs, and trees is more than a miracle. In this New York corridor you can see how the use of wood in combination with the vegetation and abundant natural light not only creates a biophilic design, but also promotes wellbeing.

 

So, if you’re thinking about following the lead of modern constructions, don’t forget that biophilia can do you a lot of good.

 

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