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Home and design trends: importance of biophilic design

There is a lot that goes behind the design and development of any project. The first step is the design concept itself, which is the formative idea behind all thought processes involved; This concept defines the intent that the client and the architect share in common.

As we are advancing in time, so is building technology and architecture. Today, we have, at our disposal, transformative machinery and systems that claim to achieve the unimaginable in terms of saving and efficiently using energy. With the introduction of building-integrated equipment that can harness renewable sources of energy, the way our modern buildings look today, has changed overtime. What still keeps us rooted to the earth is the concept of biophilia.

Biophilia is the human tendency to interact with life in nature. A biophilic design is one that incorporates nature into the built environment, enabling an interaction between humans and nature. The biophilic approach helps in reconnecting with the natural surroundings and creating healthy habitats for contemporary life. It can be incorporated into design at all scales be it a small house, a large commercial building, or even planning at an urban level. New York City is a quintessential example of an urban development with its green lungs right in the centre- the Central Park.

Any design process, with biophilia at its core must start with an extensive understanding of the physical location’s environmental data and the region’s weather patterns. These account for factors such as seasonality, the intensity of the sun, wind, rainfall and humidity. This ensures a truly climate-responsive, sustainable and environmentally responsible design solution. Keeping in mind these factors, one can easily decide the method and degree to which biophilic elements can help shape the design.

The inclusion of direct or indirect elements of nature into architecture has shown results through research to reduce stress, anxiety and ill-health, whilst increasing productivity, creativity and wellbeing. It helps improve thermal comfort, air quality, toxin levels and ventilation, and acoustic comfort. Just adding a touch of green, such as a few potted plants, can enormously transform a space. Green walls, and open spaces augment and improve wellbeing, facilitate internal and external views, while enhancing the vibrancy and serenity of the environs. Their engagement with the human senses can also have psychological and physiological effects on the user, thereby improving overall lifestyle.

The presence of water features in a space creates a soothing ambience with its continuous sounds. Similarly, aromatherapy has successfully been in use for a long time. Natural light can be brought into a space by diffusion or in dynamic ways by creating patterns. A visual connection with nature is pleasing to the eyes, and a non-visual connection also induces a feeling of calmness. With work and daily tasks, our lives tend to become monotonous and predictable. Non-rhythmic sensory stimuli works by giving momentary exposure to sounds and scents in nature through occasional movements, having a positive effect on the brain due to its unpredictability. These aspects directly affect the senses, increasing pain tolerance and the quality of life.

Biomorphic forms and patterns that mimic nature to create natural and organic shapes form the base concept for many architectural works. The use of natural materials is an indirect way to incorporate biophilic elements in design. They have least environmental impact and are renewable. Recycling, upcycling and repurposing of these materials ensures waste reduction.

With people making a permanent shift to urban lifestyles and spending most of their time in closed interior spaces of their houses, it is even more vital today to bring nature inside. Humans have spent only a couple of centuries in the modern built environment. Most of the human era has stayed deeply connected to nature, thriving in jungles and caves. A loss of that connection can easily cause long-term harmful effects.

There is an inherent beauty and balance in nature, that must be extended into the spaces that we inhabit. A seamless blend between the interior and exterior spaces would be an optimal design solution that nourishes, energizes and enriches one’s living experience. It is crucial for a designer to have sensitivity towards maintaining a harmonious relationship between the natural environment and the interior aesthetics.