There’s a murmur in the air, particularly in design circles and we think it’s something fantastic. It’s called biophilia – the love of life or living systems, and the great news is, it’s spreading! But what is biophilia, or biophilic design and why is it so good for us? We discuss!
We have an innate connection to nature, but in an urban world of technology and industrial architecture, this fundamental human connection to the natural world can sometimes feel all but lost.
The interminable glare of smart-phone and computer screens; strip-lit offices, air conditioning, desk-lunches and rush-hour transport are comparatively new and alien to our senses. Work related stress accounts for 35% of ill health in the UK and 43% of absenteeism. It’s easy to feel stressed and disconnected in a prison of concrete and mortar, so is it any wonder that some of the most common modern maladies are stress and depression?
Recent studies, such as the Human Spaces Global Report by Professor Cary Cooper (Read more here), are beginning to reveal just how imperative it is to redress this balance; for our own happiness, health and well-being. The study found that colour, natural light and access to green spaces has a tremendous impact on productivity and employee wellbeing, and can increase performance by up to 15%. On a big company-wide scale, that can have a huge impact.
So how can we improve our wellbeing through design?
The advancement of mobile technology allows a vast majority of the workforce to work flexibly and remotely. The modern workplace is changing. Forward-thinking employers are following in the footsteps of well-researched organisations, such as Google and Facebook, by embracing this flexible attitude when re-designing workspaces. Gone are partitioned cells or windowless rooms; instead: bright, airy, inspirational spaces that encourage thought, play and open collaboration. In turn, the science shows that stress levels are lowered and productivity and creativity are boosted.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that painting a mural of a beach in an office or hotel lobby will suddenly inspire better performance of employees or the happiness of guests – but an outdoor view, fresh air, clever use of colour, indoor plants or living walls go a long way in boosting wellbeing.
The principle of biophilic design is a green one. Biophilia is the ‘love of life or living systems’, and so biophilic design is all about creating natural environments for us to live, work and learn. By consciously including nature in interior or architectural design, we are unconsciously reconnecting; bringing the great outdoors in to our constructed world… in order to make it great.
This might be new science, but it’s old wisdom. The first known use of decorative plants was over 3,000 years ago by the Egyptians. The Victorians created greenhouses and glass garden viewing rooms, courtyards and ponds. They were intuitively conscious in their understanding of wellbeing, with regards to their environment. We can find elements of biophilic design in a vast array of iconic architecture, buildings whose appeal has stood the test of time.
Elmore Court’s The Gillyflower is a remarkable example of this. Built sustainably from Estate materials using traditional methods, the venue is literally shaped from, and in to, the surrounding land. The external facade enhances the environment, whilst the inside is flooded with natural light.
Although these houses are hundreds of years old, these sorts of connections with nature can be seen in Iscoyd Park’s enormous windows and Dewsall Court’s glass house, Pennard’s ivy coated exterior and Victorian ponds and Wasing Park’s views from every room and it’s lakes.
Biophilia is about fostering positive connections between people and nature. By using a visual connection with nature in our design – whether texturally or through colour or designing structures that work with or enhance its surroundings – we are going back to the basics of what makes us happy.
Of course a way of taking a step towards gaining some of the benefits of nature is to incorporate green elements into your home or office, to reconnect with nature on a daily basis. But what a gift it is to go a step further and take friends or colleagues out of the urban environment and into nature, to explore woodlands, sit under ancient trees, take a dip in a beautiful lake and take from the countryside what your body needs. Embracing biophilia is not just good for the environment, it can bring a whole new perspective on ways of working and how to be the most productive in what you do.
Whether for the day or a couple of nights, each of our houses provides the perfect creative, corporate, exclusive retreat for a way of working like not other! To find out more on creating your own corporate or leisurely escape, please contact the team: email@example.com