What is Biophilia?
‘Biophilia is an innate and genetically determined affinity of human beings with the natural world’ this hypothesis was mainstreamed by American Naturalist and Biologist, Edward O. Wilson, 35 years ago. He believed that in today’s age of glass boxes and concrete jungles, humans yearn an instinctive association to nature.
How is connection to nature relevant to productivity and well-being of the users of a commercial set-up?
Employees spend an overwhelmingly large amount of their time in their workplace. This is alarmingly comparable to situations in detentions or prisons where only about 20% of one’s day is spent outdoors. Stressful, competitive atmosphere, steered by boxy commercialized infrastructure create undermining health and social conditions. With almost 48 – 50 hours a week spent indoors in one’s workplace, there is an inherent need to obliterate this separation created between built and natural environment. With the most essential component of a workplace being human resources, it is essential to confront this concern and design spaces that address inclusion of natural components in various capacities depending on scale, budget, and design.
Environmental psychological studies suggest that being connected to nature is an adaptive human function that allows for and supports psychological restoration. By reducing stress, enhancing creativity and providing clarity of thoughts, biophilic design can expedite healing and improve our overall well being. As a result of this integration, we can construct healthy and productive habitats, a design that is inclusive of natural influences drawn from health and social perspectives, achieved by providing a sensory fusion with nature.
What are the ways in which Biophilia can be introduced to commercial workplaces?
Varied and scattered plants in, or overlooking an office is a nominal design strategy often adopted in a biophilic design. Potted plants in workplaces are the easiest way to incorporate the conception of green areas in indoor spaces. With vertical office spaces that are space efficient and compact, the most commonly asked question is how one can spare dedicated areas for embracing biophilic design without compromising on floor and desktop spaces.
Innovative ideas such as hanging plants work well to support such configurations but more importantly, it is essential to integrate these ideas with the design during conceptual and pre – construction phases. Living green wall panel seen in Bajaj Finserv, designed by NCUBE design can be an example of proposed design components without re – shuffling and unnaturally enforcing arrangements.
Apart from greenery, biophilia is also associated to enhancing spaces through provisioning natural light sources through incorporation of open areas or skylights, use of natural materials or natural colors in interior spaces, fractal patterns, proximity to water (natural or artificial), providing refuge/shelter areas for privacy, natural scents or sounds and providing spacious environments.
What are the benefits of a biophilic design?
Design components such as live green walls, moss walls, vertical gardens, terrace garden, atrium spaces, common social zones etc uplift the aesthetics along with the environmental quality of a place. Biophilia has a profound effect of increasing user productivity, attention span and engagement. Though not quantifiable, the psychological impact of a nature inclusive design has a significant impact on the efficiency of human resources engaging in the space.
When deployed sufficiently, biophilic design improves the physical quality of a space as well. The various components of such designs improve the indoor air quality of a space, contribute to noise reduction, insulate interior areas from harsh heat in hot climates and retain heat in colder conditions. This is also an economically effective way of leveling up office décor whilst earning the space a LEED or IGBC certification. Brand identity that endorses green architecture to aid employee wellness is a valuable outcome of this design.
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