With the advancement of modern technology, humans now are more drifted away, forgetting where their roots are coming from. How often do you see people applying mother nature’s resources into their daily lives be it in design, technology, builds, household, lifestyle, workplace, etc? The world is constantly changing, humankind is evolving and as a result to that, our daily lives are getting more and more processed and artificial. The proponents of biophilic design suggests that humans are hard-wired to want to connect with nature. The time spent in natural spaces can help to increase well-being, reduce stress, improve productivity, enhance creativity, increase the likelihood of positive emotions and improve health and cognitive function.
To design a space with nature in mind, there are three elements to consider: Natural analogues, nature in the space, and the nature of the space. Natural analogues are an indirect way to bring life in into space such as a painting of a tree, furniture that mimic the shape of flowers or leaves, and using organic materials like woods and marble. Bringing nature in the space means that incorporate water, plants, animals, and natural light into the setting. The nature of space refers to various spatial forms includes plan designs and building shapes. For instance, an open floor plan.
The community has also applied nature into human’s daily lives and surroundings:
Bridging the connection between patients and the nature has been innately valued for centuries—the first health centres were at remote monasteries intended to foster the tie between healing and the environment. Patients with a view to nature, instead of a nondescript wall, are more likely to experience hospital stays that are 8.5% shorter.
Currently, there is a growing body of modern scientific evidence that supports this theory; patient outcomes appear to be closely related to interacting with nature. Connection to the natural environment has been shown to improve overall healthcare quality in multiple ways by increasing the effectiveness in delivering care, reducing staff stress and fatigue, improving the safety of the patients, and reducing patients’ stress. All this leads to improve health outcomes whereby the patients tend to feel more positive, happier and hence, heal faster. Hospitals foster this by having views, natural light, and access to gardens or the outdoors.
A study of daylighting in schools showed children learn 20-26% faster in natural daylight. It has proven that when schools get children outside into natural places as they seem particularly moved by biophilia and quickly gain many advantages from access to the outdoors. They tend to perform better academically, are more engaged and motivated to learn. These comes with the benefits of stress reliefs, decreasing records for any disciplinary action and an increase of student attention spans.
In addition, choosing natural materials like wood that has a warm colour and visible wood grain in floor and desks will encourage the feeling of biophilic reaction when being surround by nature materials. Adding real life elements such as plants in the classroom provides a direct connection to nature, producing great biophilic sense to students. In addition to that, outdoors could also improve vision and increases Vitamin D levels, making students healthier.
As the evidence of diverse benefits is so strong, contact with nature in the workplace has become a central element in the design of healthy office spaces. Various studies have repeatedly shown that access to outdoor gardens or parks, indoor plants, and windows with views of natural places reduce worker stress levels. Beyond manipulating stress levels, it appears that employees are also happier and more productive with a connection to nature. And firms greatly benefit because sick leave and worker turnover is reduced. Biophilic work environments for many office workers would result in over $470 million in recouped productivity value. This also appeals the retail industry where customers judge businesses surrounded by nature and natural features to be worthy of prices up to 25% higher than businesses with no access to nature. With all these advantages, it is no wonder that creating contact between nature and workers is happening in offices, manufacturing plants, and every type of work environment in between.
Recently, Amazon has opened its New Rainforest Office in Seattle. The building has its own peculiar design, which create environmentally friendly workspaces that help spark its employees’ creativity. The facade’s geometric pattern is derived from a shape found in nature, known as a Catalan solid. There are details across the campus such as whiteboards in all the elevators, open areas that encourage spontaneous meetings. The structure is being planted with more than 400 botanical species, resembling a greenhouse as opposed to a typical office. Rather than the usual mix of closed hallways and traditional conference rooms, employees are accustomed to walkways and unconventional meeting spaces—called ‘treehouse meeting rooms’—with chairs.
These are all helpful to event managers who are seeking to create happy attendees. Naturally-designed spaces can also deliver a sense of place, connecting event participants to the host destination in a more physical approach, reminding them of the unique location they are in. This is particularly profound if native vegetation and authentic indigenous elements can be integrated.
Terrapin Bright Green, a company that collaborates with clients to develop innovative solutions such as biophilic, bio inspired and ecological design to improve the environment, puts forward strong economic and social arguments for integrating nature-based design into a variety of buildings.