Biophilic design has become one of contemporary architecture’s most exciting and intriguing principles. Since we’ve uncovered more and more of the effects of cubicle society on our health, it’s understandable that we’re starting to bring the benefits of nature indoors.
You’ve probably heard that we spend 90% of our lives indoors. A closer look at the facts tells us that it’s closer to 93% if you consider time spent in your car, too. It’s an alarming statistic that gives us pause when it comes to how we spend our time, and when we consider the effects of being such an ‘indoor species.’
About one in three people spend 15 minutes or less outside every day. 75% of us spend less than an hour outside per day. This lack of connection to our natural roots leads to all sorts of effects on our health and wellbeing. However, with the ever-growing emphasis on environmental awareness and stewardship, we’ve started to blur the lines between our indoor and outdoor lives.
By introducing plants and vegetation, as well as water features, natural light and materials (i.e. using wood in lieu of concrete or other man-made components) as well as design taking cues from nature, the results are dramatic. Studies report an increase of 40% in feelings of wellbeing, as well as enhanced productivity; a reduction in blood pressure and cortisol (stress hormone) levels; more positive (and fewer negative) emotions; more relaxed brains and muscles (especially in the eyes); and even less absenteeism in employees and students.
Creative and purposeful use of plants in architecture can also effectively address challenges in insulation, keeping things cool in the summer and warm in the winter. In large enough swaths, plants can also greatly contribute to improvement of air quality, further improving wellbeing.
One cannot ignore the eye-catching properties of nature, too. Leveraging the photogenic nature of plants to cater to modern demographics, increase emotional and aesthetic appeal, and establish a commanding presence are all pleasant and less-obvious side-effects of biophilic design.
Lemay + Toker’s own Latisha Sitter- our green-thumbed Contract Administration Assistant – built a living wall in our offices as a proof-of-concept of biophilic design. It now permanently lives in Conference Room F, transforming it into an intimate space for breakouts, conference calls, and client catch-ups.
A little goes a long way when it comes to creating and transforming spaces.
Why not incorporate biophilic design into your next project?