Blog - What is Biophilic Design?

What is Biophilic Design?

As employers look for simple, practical ways to improve employee wellbeing and performance, the most successful organizations are bringing nature indoors. Research shows that biophilic design reduces stress levels and increases employee happiness, creativity, and productivity. A series of two studies in Norway found that people placed in a biophilic environment improved their attention capacity and outperformed those who worked in a setting without plants. In another study, employees reported a 15% higher level of wellbeing when working in offices that incorporate natural elements. Explore what you need to know about what is biophilia and how biophilic architecture affects your workforce. Learn five things you can do to incorporate biophilic design into your workspace.

What is biophilia

The concept of biophilia originated in the 1980s when biologist Edward O. Wilson hypothesized that humans have an innate affinity for life and nature and actively seek connections to the natural world. Wilson’s biophilia definition caught on; office designers now use living walls, skylights to provide access to natural light, and other natural landscapes in interior spaces. The popularity of biophilic design is supported by research that shows it’s providing real health benefits.

A closer look at the biophilic design definition

A basic biophilic design definition is the use of plants. But it’s also a lot more than that. According to Building Design and Construction, “biophilic design is an applied solution to appease this desire for nature by integrating natural elements and processes into the built environment.” The essence of biophilic design is more about the overall setting, rather than the use of a single element or occurrence of nature. As another source points out, the benefits of biophilic architecture and design depend on “engaging contact with nature rather than occasional, exceptional, or ephemeral experiences.

Five things you need to know about biophilic design

The most successful organizations are using biophilic architecture to connect employees with the benefits of the natural world. To create a more productive and healthy environment for your workforce, build an environment that includes a combination of features such as natural lighting, ventilation, landscape, and greenery. Here are five things you need to know about biophilic architecture and design to ensure success:

1. It’s about more than plants.
At its most basic, biophilic design calls for adding plants to the office environment. But that’s not enough to fully reap the benefits of a biophilic environment. Add plants and greenery thoughtfully. Consciously create arrangements, like a living wall, and use plants as they would appear in a natural setting. It’s also important to think about how your arrangements (which may also include flowers and water) appeal to multiple senses including sight, smell, hearing, etc.

2. People crave the light.
Humans are connected to light; it drives our circadian rhythm. Studies show that natural light exposure is crucial to improving visual comfort, energy levels, and sleep patterns. Try maximizing the amount of natural light available to your workforce by setting aside common areas or provide a natural lighting system that mimics the outdoor environment.

3. Consider the healing power of water.
Views from your office window may not overlook an ocean, lake, or even man-made water feature, but there are other ways to connect employees with the tranquil effects of water. By adding an aquarium or waterfall feature indoors, biophilic design improves memory and employee health by lowering blood pressure and heart rate.

4. Air and temperature are also part of the natural world.
It may not be top of mind, but airflow and temperature are also part of a well-designed biophilic environment. Constant indoor conditions are not always best for performance. For example, varied airflow can help keep employees energized, focused, and productive.

5. You can fake nature too—within reason.
Real is always better, but if you’re limited by space or budgetary constraints, biophilic designers can also include elements that imitate nature in the office. Try adding natural materials, textures, and pictures of nature to connect employees with the outdoors. However, these should be used to supplement, rather than completely replace, the experience of nature.

Design a smarter office

The most successful organizations are utilizing biophilic architecture and design to positively impact employee wellbeing. Biophilic workspaces yield happier, healthier, and more productive employees. While some organizations find it easy to incorporate biophilic design principles in the workplace, others need help getting started. Asure Software can be a strong partner in helping your business design smarter office spaces for your workforce.

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