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Biophilic Design: Enhancing well-being and sustainability

Biophilic Designs: Enhancing well-being and sustainability 

Recently, explored Biomimicry-based architecture as a sustainable building method that draws inspiration from nature. Today, we’ll bring our attention to Biophilic Designs, which also prioritize the natural world by incorporating nature-inspired elements into architectural and interior design. Biophilic design is aimed at creating more sustainable and health-promoting environments.

Since we spend much of our time working indoors, we are less exposed to natural light and fresh air. This harms our physical and mental health. Biophilic designs address this issue by integrating natural elements into the built environment. 

Studies have shown that biophilic designs have significant benefits for our well-being. Such designs help in reducing stress and improve cognitive function, physical health, and psychological well-being. 

Categories and Patterns of Biophilic Designs

Biophilic design incorporates several natural elements, materials, and patterns in buildings. Biophilic design is classified into three categories – Nature in Space, Nature Analogues, and Nature of SpaceTerrapin Bright Green, a sustainability consulting firm, defined 14 patterns of biophilic design that are divided into these categories

Nature in the Space

Structures that feature the physical presence of nature like plants, sounds, scents, and fountains within it come under this category. There are seven biophilic design patterns under this category-

  1. Visual Connection with Nature
  2. Non-Visual Connection with Nature
  3. Non-Rhythmic Sensory Stimuli
  4. Thermal and Airflow Variability
  5. Presence of Water
  6. Dynamic and Diffuse Light
  7. Connection with Natural Systems

Nature Analogues

Spaces under this category establish an indirect connection with nature. You will find nature-inspired décor, artwork, shapes, colors, and more. This category features 3 biophilic design patterns-

  1. Biomorphic Forms and Patterns
  2. Material Connection with Nature
  3. Complexity and Order

Nature of the Space

This concept refers to bringing spatial configurations of nature into spaces, in such a way that the space itself will resemble nature. There are 4 design patterns under this category-

  1. Prospect
  2. Refuge
  3. Mystery
  4. Risk/Peril

You can read Terrapin’s report to learn more about these categories and patterns, and their benefits for our health.

5 examples of biophilic design architecture

Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, Singapore

Biophilic Design: Enhancing well-being and sustainability 

The Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) in Singapore is designed in such a way that patients get access to natural light, cool breeze, and soothing views. The hospital includes plants that attract over 50 species of butterflies, a storm-water pond, indigenous tropical plants, roof gardens, and more. The natural elements help patients recover faster,

KTPH is a marvel of biophilic design and more than just a hospital. In their case study on KTPH, The International Living Future Institute states that “KTPH was designed to be more than just a place of recovery. It also serves as a tranquil communal node where the local community can attend public lectures, and exhibitions or participate in educational programs organized by the hospital. Commercial areas geared towards healthy living are in the hospital to promote health awareness.”

The Spheres, USA

Biophilic Design: Enhancing well-being and sustainability 

The Spheres are vertical gardens located at Amazon’s Seattle office. They are home to over 40,000 plants from over 30 countries. The Spheres include living walls, which are vertical gardens featuring ferns, aroids, Phragmipedium orchids, and other plant species. A top-down irrigation system ensures that all plants are watered efficiently.

These living walls help keep the temperature cool and the interior air clean. The Spheres inspires creativity and simply freshens up anyone who visits, office employees or regular visitors!

Pasona Urban Farm, Japan

Biophilic Design: Enhancing well-being and sustainability 

The Pasona Urban Farm in Tokyo, Japan is a corporate building with green roofs, green façade, and urban farming facilities. This structure establishes a direct human-nature connection. Tomato vines are hanging in conference rooms, bean sprouts are grown under benches, and there’s a rice paddy and broccoli field in the main lobby!

A unique workplace environment helps in increasing worker productivity and mental health.

Mirrorcube, Sweden

Biophilic Design: Enhancing well-being and sustainability 

Treehotel in Sweden includes different rooms, one of which is the Mirrorcube. It is a 4x4x4 meter room surrounded by mirror walls and has a tree trunk growing through it. Visitors staying in the Mirrorcube will have a unique experience of staying in a modern and stylish treehouse that effortlessly blends into the surrounding forest environment.

The mirror walls reflect the natural scenery, creating an illusion of invisibility. Guests can relax in comfort while feeling immersed in the beauty and tranquility of the surrounding pine forest.

The Metropol Parasol, Spain

Biophilic Design: Enhancing well-being and sustainability 

One of the biggest timber structures in the world, The Metropol Parasol in Seville, Spain, features six large, mushroom-shaped timber parasols that are built to protect an archaeological site and provide shade to the Plaza de la Encarnación.

The entire structure has four levels-

  1. A basement with a platform to view the archaeological site
  2. 2,155 square meters of marketplace
  3. A restaurant
  4. A public balcony that shows a panoramic view of Seville

This is a great example of ‘Nature Analgoues’ where the shape of mushrooms inspired such a massive structure.

Biophilic design is gaining momentum as there’s an increased awareness to prioritize sustainability in construction and human well-being. By bringing nature and its elements into our spaces, we can create an environment of productivity, health, and happiness. In the quest of creating an environmentally conscious future, biophilic design will play a crucial role.

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