On average, we spend 90% of our time in the built environment today. In a strange twist of fate, it has become our natural habitat. But we need things like natural light and materials, indoor plants, views of landscapes, and access to the outdoors to feel and do our best work.
The rapid rate of urbanization and abundance of manmade structures in today’s world has led to a disconnection with the natural environment. The United Nations predicts that by 2030, 60% of the world’s population will live in urban environments. For humans, it’s a basic, biological need to remain close in contact with nature; not just when outdoors, but when inside as well. This is the heart of biophilic design.
We often work on our inner well-being such as our diet and exercise but how often do we focus on our outer well-being? In many ways, our physical and mental health and well-being rely on our relationship with nature. Sustainable or “green” initiatives have decreased the environmental impact of the built environment, but have done little in connecting people to nature. As such, biophilic design has become a greater focus for designers and for good reason.
Incorporating nature into the office can have a positive effect on productivity levels, mood, and health, creating high-performing organizations. Studies are beginning to show that an increase in biophilic design in offices increases concentration and decreases fatigue, enhances worker morale, and even helps to recruit and retain talent, all of which impact a company’s bottom line. Nature-inspired design can extend beyond office settings into hospitals and schools, communities and cities. Bringing the outside in has been shown to reduce levels of tension and anxiety, increase students’ test scores, and can speed up recovery times in healing spaces.
Incorporating biophilia into office design can be accomplished in direct or subtle ways. You can place plants or a water feature into an office, or you can incorporate wood, stone, or other natural elements into your space. Biophilic design is about the use of materials from nature but also about the use of elements that mimic natural forms and patterns of nature. This kind of design makes spaces more functional and beautiful while also creating feelings of connection to the natural world. Biophilic design brings buildings to life.