At the heart of biophilic design is the desire to reintroduce nature or natural settings into man-made environments. This includes vegetation, soft landscape, greenery features, flowing water, natural sunlight and designs that mimic nature. Leading the charge is our very own Singapore, which has established its identity as a Garden City for the past decade. In fact, many of its iconic works incorporate biophilic ideas, such as Changi Airport’s Jewel, The Hive @ Nanyang Technology University and the National Gallery Singapore. In this article, we cover the benefits of employing biophilic design and clear up misconceptions of this methodology.
Environments that incorporate biophilic design elements appear to provide numerous health benefits for users. By stimulating the body’s parasympathetic system, a state of calm and balance is introduced. More tangible benefits include the improvement of the quality of air, natural temperature regulation and vitamin D gains from natural sunlight. In return, employers are noticing improved work productivity, lower absenteeism and alleviate stress in their employees.
By introducing plants either in pots or on walls, office environments experience reduced pollutants, toxins and bacteria, which are all absorbed by the vegetation. Additionally, they reintroduce water vapour into the air, which thus allows them to be a natural humidifier, protecting against dry environments created by air-conditioners. This is beneficial to inhabitants as dry air irritates sensitive membranes in people’s throats and noses, thus making them susceptible to respiratory aliments.
Natural sunlight has been proven to increase melatonin levels in people. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates sleep cycle patterns in humans, and thus affects energy levels. Since energy is an important factor in employee’s productivity, natural sunlight thus indirectly impacts the productivity of your employees.
Biophilic design should not be confused with eco-conscious or green design. Eco-conscious design is as its name suggests, a form of design that aims to help the environment. While it often overlaps with biophilic design, its focus is on the environment and not the inhabitants. Examples of green design include the implementation of solar panels for energy regeneration and thus reduction in non-renewal energy consumption. If the collected energy is not used to create an environment that benefits the mental wellbeing of inhabitants, then it cannot be considered to be biophilic design. Conversely, biophilic design may do more harm than good to the environment depending on it is implemented.
Interested to find out how you can incorporate biophilic design into your office space? Talk to commercial interior design services in order to get a better understanding of what this methodology is and what changes can be made to your workplace.