What is Biophilic Design and how can we incorporate it?

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What is Biophilic Design and how can we incorporate it?

Biophilic design is an innovative way to create buildings in a way that reconnects humans with the natural world.

We all heard a lot of people saying “I need a break”. In Fact, we ourselves also tend to feel like this after a certain period of time staying indoors. COVID-19 made us feel it even more strongly when people were forcibly locked down inside their houses. Everyone was looking to go outside to relax in the open air. Certainly, the feeling of being outside, close to nature makes you feel more relaxed and could impact your mood. People go on vacations to hill stations, beaches, and hiking in the mountains because these activities energize your body and calming your soul.

Currently, 54 percent of the world’s population lives in an urban environment. By 2050, it’s estimated that the percentage will increase to 66 percent—two-thirds of the world’s population! Generally, humans spend 93 percent of their time indoors separated from natural elements. Staying indoors disconnected from natural biophilia making people ill with diseases like mental health problems, depression, low blood pressure, obesity, etc. Recently, a quite revolutionary change is taking place at a swift pace i.e biophilic design. It is the technique of making your indoors much more similar to the magical outside nature.

What is Biophilic Design?

Biophilic design aims to create buildings in a way that reconnects humans with the natural world. In other words, it means designs that are related to the love of nature.

It is a term popularized by American biologist Edward O Wilson in the 1980s when he observed how increasing rates of urbanization were leading to a disconnection with the natural world. The increasing number of people moving to urban areas creates a gap between nature and humans.

Biophilic Design uses these ideas as principles to create a human-centered approach that when applied improves many of the spaces that we live and work in today, with numerous benefits to our health and well-being.

Basic principles of biophilic Designs

Biophilic designs don’t mean just incorporating plants in your interior design space, it’s much more than that. This technique is based upon some basic principles of the biophilia hypothesis which means that humans have an eternal impact and connection with nature. 

The reason behind making your indoor space a feel of nature is that we spent 90% of our lifetime indoors. So, it’s needed to have a touch of natural ambiance in our life to make it more beautiful and relaxed. 

Here are some basic principles of the Biophilic design technique:

1. Natural visual connection

  • This principle is basically based upon viewing the components of nature, living systems, and natural processes. 
  • A visual connection with nature referenced to firstly, reducing stress, secondly, increase positivity in the mind, and thirdly, improve concentration and recovery rates.
  • This can be done by adding the feel of things like naturally flowing water, animals, soil, or earth in the design space. However, If these are not naturally occurring in your area, they can be recreated. An aquarium, a green wall, or artwork that shows nature scenes can be built in your house or at your workplace.

2. Connection with natural systems

  • Natural systems and processes describe the change in natural behavior like change in climate leads to a healthy environment as well as a healthy body. This seasonality and understanding of the life cycle can lead to a more relaxing, nostalgic, and enlightened lifestyle. 
  • This can be done by including the artifacts of weather patterns, geology (visible fault lines, erosion, fossils) or life cycle patterns(weather changes, pollination, aging woods), etc. If not available, you can construct your own by including a birdhouse in your backyard or making space for plants in your home.

3. Material connection with nature

  • Creating a material connection with nature is done with the intention of making a space feel rich, warm, and authentic. certainly, studies have shown that the use of different materials impacts mood and productivity. If a room is mostly wood, it creates a sense of relaxation like a spa would, but is not conducive to cognitive function and productivity.

4. Biomorphic forms and patterns

  • Biomorphism is when shapes and patterns used in the design. An example is a Fibonacci series (0,1, 1, 2, 3,5, 8,13, 21, 34…) which is a numeric sequence that occurs in living things such as plants. This number of patterns can contribute to creating architectural and design elements within the home.

5. Light and space

  • According to this principle, it follows how lights and shadows appear in a natural environment. Lighting strategy plays an important role to be more productive at home as well as at the office. Moreover, researchers found that people are more productive with more light.
  • Natural lightings such as moonlight, sunlight, and seasonal lights could already be present in your house through the windows. If not, then you can add this aroma by using multiple low glare electric light sources, diffused light on walls or the ceiling. 

6. Complexity and order

  • This element involves looking at the pattern of spatial hierarchy in nature and trying to recreate it in buildings. Symmetry and fractals or irregular geometric shapes provide complexity and order.
  • These patterns are available in wallpaper and carpet design, window details, or your floor plan. Fractal patterns featured in classical art, ancient Mayan art, and Egyptian art.

The need for Biophilic Design in today's world

According to Global research, surveying people about the presence of natural elements in the workplace, people reported on their emotional state at various points throughout the day. The results were astonishing. Employees working in natural environments are much happier and inspired. On the other hand, workers who do not have greenery within their work environment feel more anxious or even bored when they enter the workplace.

Likewise, the World Health Organisation also reveals that decreasing connection with nature results in stress developing diseases like anxiety, depression, mental health disorders, obesity, and cardiovascular disease in 2020 with a big push due to coronavirus. 

In addition, It helps in increasing productivity, creativity, appetite, and energy. So, people start feeling energized the whole day and do work with full efficiency.

Certainly, big giants in the technological industries like  Apple, Google, and Amazon are investing a big amount in adapting biophilic infrastructure principles

Benefits of Biophilic Designs

  • Biophilic design at home: This technique helps to reduce symptoms of poor health and improve overall well-being. Many people find that they feel less stressed and healthier in adapting this technique at home. People become more calm & restorative with a decrement of  7-8 % less crime in those areas having access to nature 
  • Biophilic at the office: Incorporating this design at office workspace, researchers found that workers in office environments with natural elements, such as greenery and sunlight were 6% more productive, 15% more creative, and reported a 15% high level of wellbeing.
  • Biophilic designs at hospitals: We all know that natural light is the best element for human life to live a healthy life. So, the Natural environment helps patients in fast recovery and healing. As a result, Guests willing to pay 23% more for rooms with views of Biophilic elements
  • Biophilic at educational institutes: Implementing this technique could increase rates of learning by 20-25%, improved test results, concentration levels, and attendance. Consequently, students take interest in their studies and perform well. 

How to incorporate biophilic design into your home and workplace

Based on your space, and your needs, you can use Biophilic Design principles to achieve certain environmental goals. There are three key elements to put together to make a biophilic workspace.

Natural light:

Fresh air and sunlight can not only increase the thermal comfort of your home office, but it can also boost mood and aid in creativity and productivity. Therefore, natural sunlight can relax the eye muscles and effectively reduce fatigue.

Plants: 

By definition, humans are drawn to nature and natural things. Nature stimulates the parasympathetic system and lowers stress. Studies have shown that being around trees and nature in general lower stress levels. In addition, greenery in pots, trailing plants hanging from the ceiling, and a herb garden on the kitchen windowsill is a good option to do

Colors: 

Elements analogous to nature, such as color and texture provide us with a material connection to nature. Strong and routine improves cognitive function in the workplace. Meanwhile, try to Include natural colors and patterns that remind you of positive experiences you may have had in nature. Blues will be calming, greens invigorating, and yellows warming and social.

You can incorporate several things into your house for biophilic design:

  • Using natural wood grains to add texture to furniture, flooring, or wall panels.
  • Make the most of sensory spaces such as bathrooms, with textural contrasts. For example with fluffy towels against cool tiles, plus gentle lighting and calming scents.
  • Leaving a window open to hear the sounds outdoors, soft materials and surfaces to absorb sound, natural surfaces like cork for underfoot comfort and sound control
  • Partially obscured views, created by plants, curtains, or partition walls, create a sense of mystery and intrigue
  • Certainly, take intermittent breaks from work and spend time outside to relax, restore, and inspire creativity

Hotels in India that follow biophilic designs

In this fast-paced life, where everyone is surrounded by the only concrete jungle. People tend to get irritated, dull, and depressed and run in the search of solace, peace, and nature. Not everyone can run off to the Himalayas or the lush jungles of the Northeast but a weekend relaxed getaway to the following hotels can also make you feel like you are in the lap of nature because of their biophilic design technique. 

1. ITC Maurya, a Luxury Collection Hotel, New Delhi - New Delhi

Even in the bustling city of New Delhi travelers can find green accommodations without skimping on luxury. Recognized as the preferred “Residence for World Leaders and Global Icons,” ITC Maurya, a Luxury Collection Hotel, New Delhi offers exemplary service drenched in Indian tradition. 

2. Vana Malsi Estate - Dehradun, Uttrakhand

Vana Malsi Estate isn’t only a luxury wellness retreat – it’s also one of the greenest eco-hotels in India, located in a gorgeously unspoiled tract of Uttarakhand

The venue is LEED Platinum certified, because of its amazing earth-friendly policies and projects. 

In addition, they include harvesting rainwater to preserve the natural landscapes, using green laundry and cleaning products and organic bedding. Moreover, they work with FSC-certified bamboo flooring and use locally sourced materials and ingredients too in their kitchen. 

3. Taj Safaris - Madhya Pradesh

Across four stunning lodges in Madhya Pradesh – Mahua Kothi, Baghvan, Banjaar Tola, and Pashan Garh – Taj Safaris has earned fame as India’s premier luxury wildlife circuit. All four venues provide guests with trips into national parks (and the chance to spot elusive tigers and other magnificent animals).

Moreover, they offer conservation classes and support for local schoolchildren and communities and help supply essential materials to area schools.

4. Alila Diwa Goa - Goa

Facing the Arabian Sea, Alila Diwa Goa built on Majorda Beach in South Goa and lies within a secluded paddy plantation. This resort provides special facilities for families too like a movie hall, activity center, cricket ground, volleyball court, and a children’s pool.

In addition, the resort’s aesthetic scheme constitutes local materials and point up Goa’s native red laterite stone.

5. The Dune Eco Beach Village and Spa - Pondicherry

It sets between White Beach and Pondicherry University Beach having more than 50 eco-friendly bungalows overlooking the Bay of Bengal. Most importantly, Guestrooms have proper ventilation with natural ocean breezes with beautiful private gardens contributing to a peaceful atmosphere. 

  • The solar-powered water system,
  • Organic linens 
  • Low-consumption lighting.

6. The Tamara Coorg - Coorg (Kodagu), Karnataka

Surrounded by cardamom, pepper, and coffee plantations, The Tamara Coorg goes the extra mile to conserve natural habitat by encouraging sustainable living, recycling, and composting.

Similarly, they treat their guests to exclusive hikes through Kabbinakad and sightseeing treks to waterfalls and local villages.

7. Evolve Back, Kabini (Orange County, Kabini) - Karnataka

Situated on the banks of Kabini River, Evolve Back, Kabini focuses on pampering guests with an earth-friendly blaze. The secluded resort utilizes state-of-the-art sewage treatment plants as well as natural vegetation to promote a green atmosphere. 

8. Banasura Hill Resort - Wayanad, Kerala

Banasura Hill Resort is a sightseeing paradise. The resort set on an eco-friendly farm surrounded by the tropical forests of Banasura Hill. Built with native mud by locals from nearby Kurichya Colony. These cottages claimed to be the largest “earth” resort in Asia. Guests can treat themselves to secluded hikes through pristine forests and return to the resort for a rejuvenating and eco-friendly spa session.

9. Nimmu House Ladakh - Leh, Jammu and Kashmir

A breathtaking eco-resort built on the side of a mountain, Nimmu House Ladakh makes an ideal getaway for backpackers, couples, or families who want to explore the outer regions of the Himalayas. Guests are provided:

  • Access to hiking trails, 
  • Rafting adventures and 
  • Yoga practices. 

10. Barefoot at Havelock - Havelock Island

This is the only ecologically-friendly resort in the Andaman islands having a Connection with nature in elegantly-designed thatch tents, cottages, and villas situated on Radhanagar Beach (Beach No. 7). Provide many activities:

  • Trekking
  • Snorkeling 
  • Diving 

References: 

  1. “Why Biophilic Office Design Is More Important Now Than Ever.” Sunon Global Blog, 25 June 2020, URL
  2. “Biophilic Design - Connecting with Nature to Improve Health & Well Being.” Oliver Heath, 25 June 2019, URL
  3. “The Principles and Benefits of Biophilic Design.” Worldwide Living Wall, Green Roof and Sustainable Architecture Installations | ANS Global, 2 May 2019, URL 
  4. “Blog.” CaraGreen, URL 
  5. “Six of the Greenest Eco Hotels in India ⋆ Greaves India.” Greaves India, 29 Nov. 2016, URL 

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