Let’s start from the top.

What is Biophilic Design?

Not to be mistaken with Sustainable design, biophilic design relates to the natural world in built environments. It encourages interaction with the natural world – known to support cognitive function, physical health and psychological wellbeing and as people are naturally drawn to features of the natural environment, biophilic design encourages the connection of humans and nature and promotes wellness and productivity.

Why use Biophilic Design?

The purpose of this kind of design is to deliver benefits for both the environment and our wellbeing. As humans, we have a biological connection to nature and sense of dependence on it. And by using biophilic design in an urban setting we are reminded of the importance of our innate connection to nature. While the feelings may be subconscious or subtle, the rewards and benefits are not.

Consider the following:

  • Enhanced recovery from illness
  • Improved cognitive function
  • Healthier development and maturation in children
  • A reduction in health and social problems
  • Superior quality of life and stronger sense of place in communities
  • Improved performance and motivation and reduced stress among workers

The concept is nothing new, we have been designing buildings in nature since the first shelter was erected. Its importance was innate, but it’s only now that we are understanding the weight of these connections. How we incorporate biophilic design – particularly in a modern world – is another thing altogether. And how everyone can benefit from the advantages of biophilic design will be a great social challenge.

Designing for nature.

From simple solutions to grand designs, biophilic design can impact spaces large and small. Simple considerations to the vernacular, can have lasting, positive results. Biophilic design can work by including natural features throughout any design and aid in making the workplace a subliminal happy and healthier place to be.

Elements to consider when designing for Biophilic results:

  • Views and vistas, water features and plants
  • Trees and organic forms, botanical motifs
  • Shapes that resist straight lines and right angles. Instead using arches and vaults, domes and tubular forms
  • Biomorphic and biomimicry, simulation of natural features
  • Natural patina and acknowledgment of time, information richness and sensory variability
  • Transitional spaces. Natural light. Filtered and diffused
  • Spatial harmony, spaciousness and inside/outside spaces
  • Geographic, historic, ecological and cultural connection to place
  • Indigenous materials and spirit of place
  • Avoiding ‘placelessness’
  • Curiosity and enticement
  • Exploration and discovery
  • Attraction and beauty
  • Security and protection

Despite its buzzword feel, Biophilic Design need not be elitist or exclusionary. Incorporating these qualities and attributes into everyday design while retaining beautifully considered buildings should be the goal for us all.

Appropriately, McCormack recently completed a fitout for Envirosuite. In the business of helping ‘businesses who are seeking answers on managing the environment in which they operate,’ the project was engaged by Dexus and finished according to biophilic principles and the tenets of the company. By incorporating plants, timber and natural materials, Envirosuite was designed to be free flowing with organic lines in an apt demonstration of the lessons and answers they provide for clients, providing all the benefits of biophilia for their staff and workplace health.

As awareness grows and integration increases, the potential for biophilic design is exponential; something McCormack is keen to watch and be a part of.