Can bringing nature into the interior environment increase our wellbeing and productivity? That's the theory gaining increasing recognition in the commercial and residential design worlds.
Biophilia is a scientific field of research around the human connection to nature and how it can improve our health and well-being. The driving hypothesis is that incorporating human access to nature into our built environment can greatly improve our health and happiness.
‘Biophilic design’ is defined as – the introduction of natural elements into the built environment – but the term perhaps risks overcomplicating something profoundly simple: people just feel better when they are closer to nature, and the home or office shouldn’t be an exception.
Biologist Edward O. Wilson said that “life around us exceeds in complexity and beauty anything else humanity is ever likely to encounter.” Connecting to this complexity and wonder is at the heart of biophilic design. By mimicking these natural environments within our interior spaces, we can create environments that are imbued with positive emotional experiences.
The existing literature in the field of suggests that nature contact has a restorative effect on people, helping them deal with day-to-day stress and work to maintain their work performance. A number of studies in hospital environments have found that even showing pictures of pleasing landscapes to patients just before or just after surgery resulted in lower stress levels and better recovery rates. Similarly, wall-mounted video screens displaying images, or real-time video of natural scenes, resulted in reduced stress rates in windowless environments.
Effective ways of creating symbolic nature connections indoors include: natural plants; water features with free flowing water; the use of natural elements, such as wood and stone; providing natural ventilation; and using highly textured fabrics that mimic the textures of natural materials.
Below are some photos from a recent office project where we used natrual materials and planting to create a connection with nature.