“Over the last quarter century, case studies have documented the advantages of biophilic experiences, including improved stress recovery rates, lower blood pressure, improved cognitive functions, enhanced mental stamina and focus, decreased violence and criminal activity, elevated moods, and increased learning rates.” –Terrapin Bright Green, Introduction: The Economics of Biophilia, 2018.
When it comes to stress reduction and enhancing the welfare of building occupants, there is a design style that stands out among the rest. Biophilia design evokes the great outdoors and can give spaces a calming atmosphere, proven though Evidence Based Design (EBD) and biophilia design studies to promote productivity, increase healing, and enhance learning conception.
According to Terrapin Bright Green in a 2018 study titled, “The Economics of Biophilia” for Prism Media LLC, the word Biophilia came into use by American biologist Edward O. Wilson in the 1980s. Wilson believed that bringing humans back into nature is critical for our emotional well-being. According to Wilson, “Biophilia is the innately emotional affiliation of human beings to other living organisms.” Because human beings are physiologically part of nature, human beings need to feel connected with nature in order to feel whole.
In unsettling environments such as hospitals, stress, irritability, and distraction will often occur. The problem is that what is not unsettling for one person may be unsettling for another person. That is what is so great about biophilia design. Biophilia design is proven to provide ALL human beings with an emotional comfort for members of any culture. Healthcare facilities use EBD by using artwork featuring calming colors found in nature and by utilizing natural images. This is critical for the mental health of patients who may not be able to go outside to experience nature frequently. In an urban hospital, Art Force placed a large mural outside the windows of patient’s rooms. By using colors found in nature, paintings of leaves, and positive messages, the hospital allowed their patients to get a sense of the nature that may be missing. Through EBD, and the studies of Edward O. Wilson, we understand that a calming space is critical for the well-being and healing of patients, and for all human beings.
Biophilia can also have a profound impact in the workplace. During the work day, we are often inside for the majority of the day. Sometimes when we finish the work day it is dark outside, making it difficult to go out and experience nature. In order for humans to get our biological need for connecting with nature, bringing the natural world into the workplace is necessary for our well-being. Whether it be potted plants, windows overlooking greenery, or nature art, biophilia design will transform indoor spaces into an emotionally beneficial environment that all building occupants will benefit from.
Compared to updating technologies, incorporating biophilia design into the workplace may seem not so necessary, but it has been proven to be beneficial for not only workers, but for the workplace whole. Biophilia design proves to be a top contender in relieving stress and elevating moods, among other beneficial factors, and untroubled workers will make for better productivity and happier overall workplace culture.
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