Biophilic Design in Architecture
Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Fallingwater Home” (1937)-an important structure as far as the history of architecture goes-is accepted (by many) as one of the world’s first high quality examples of biophilic design. The story behind this modern architectural marvel (which is situated atop a bluff above a waterfall) is just as intriguing as the building itself! Its owners had asked the architect to design them a house overlooking a waterfall. Wright replied, “I want you to live with the waterfall, not just to look at it.” In doing so, he laid out a design that was very much inline with biophilic principles. One can hear the waterfall gush from all corners of the house. Likewise, the boulders between the house serve the dual purpose of heating it as well. Every detail of Fallingwater Home offers its owners the chance to constantly engage with nature…hence why it has earned itself a place in the history books. Another impressive example of biophilic design is the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (2009) in Singapore. This comprehensive structure houses some 550 beds, and was designed with an emphasis on patient psychology and personnel productivity. The project also allows one to live Mother Nature in designated green zones throughout its interior, and stands as an effective example of energy efficiency at the same time. In fact, it uses 50% less energy compared to other hospitals. Similarly, its open spaces generate 70% of the hospital’s conditioning, thus creating a “hospital amid a garden” concept. The architects positioned patient treatment rooms towards the pond and gardenscape-thereby taking advantage of its tranquillity-as well as constructed green terraces around the rooms on the upper floors. Designed by Boeri Studio, Bosco Verticale (2014) in Milan (Italy) means “vertical garden” in Italian. The architects found that multi storey apartments are far removed from gardens and other green spaces, a direct result of an increase in population. Viewing this as a problem, they came up with a design that not only was good for the psychology of its users, but that also was sustainable from the standpoint of the micro climate and atmosphere in terms of reducing gas emissions. Vertical gardens offer upper floor residences a natural life filled with lush greenery. They moreover are great example of how biophilic design can be adapted for contemporary residential life. But a mere 64 m3 glass box, the Mirrorcube tree hotel in Harad, Sweden, is one of the simplest and yet most spectacular examples of biophilic design. Emerging from the question on how we can live in nature while having as minimal an impact upon it as possible, it creates a camouflaged shelter in the middle of the forest. The glass cube structure offers a small but sufficient dwelling for two, and has fashioned a retreat point amid the trees. Also nestled in forest on the outskirts of Madrid (Spain), Selgas Cano Architecture designed their own firm in the shape of a tunnel. What they had in mind was to try and generate the experience of being in the middle of nature and the positive impact that it can have. Glass was used along its structure’s northern façade as well as on a significant portion of the roof. Its architects describe the structure as an “aerodynamic tube.” It integrates the work environment into nature and allows staff the ability to look up and gaze at the sky above. One portion of the structure weighs on the impact of the surrounding climate, and therefore on sustainability and economic design parameters. A fabulous example of the kinds of the impacts that bilophilic design can have on sustainability is “Eden Project” by celebrated British firm Grimshaw Architects. Located in the United Kingdom, this habitat transformed a piece of land formerly devoid of green space into a series of biomes that bring an assortment of plant species from different climates and geographies under one roof. Eden Project was inspired by natural forms, and offers visitors the chance to experience no clear-cut line between the structure, the interior, or nature. The project lies in the city of Cornwall in southwest England. It is the first step towards a project that aims to breathe new, natural life into desertified regions.
Basic Principles of Biophilic Design
Biophilic design is meant create high quality spaces and to distance the human psyche from the cons of urban living. Constituting it therefore are 7 basic principals. The first (and perhaps the easiest) of these steps is to line interiors with an abundance of plants. This method directly impacts human psychology in a positive manner, and that is just the beginning. It also able to draw from biomorphic patters and order found throughout nature, and therefore establish a direct connection between the space and nature. Also referred to as imitating nature, the biomimicry approach brings a natural colour palate, leaf patterns, floral textures, and fractals (i.e. mathematical ratio found in nature) into a space’s interior. Using natural materials constitutes another important step in adapting biophilic design. Materials such as stone and wood, which reflect nature, strengthen the interrelationship between man and nature. Extracting natural stone from local quarries also supports biophilic design, and is very much an important criterion because it keeps one’s carbon footprint to a minimum. Making natural light a part of interiors also brings one’s bodily rhythm into sync. Be it natural or artificial, constitutes changes over and constitutes a major part of our 24-hour cycle, and connects people to their external environment throughout the day. That said, prolonged exposure to artificial lighting can negatively impact a person’s physiology as well. Facilitating spaces with just the right amount of natural lighting and drawing on its subtle changes constitutes yet another major criteria of biophilic design. This factor also increases visual comfort, and preventing energy loss, also enhances (a structure’s) sustainability. Natural indoor ventilation provide users with an environment conducive to productivity. Air circulation helps keep those who occupy offices and schools awake and heightens their overall level of performance. Incorporating water into spaces is also very important for both the soul and the body alike. Numerous empirical studies reveal that water’s very presence can lower one’s blood pressure and heart rate, improve one’s memory, and most certainly makes rooms significantly more tranquil. In order for biophilic design to truly evoke the best in nature in terms of how profoundly it can impact people, one needs to appeal to all five senses. Being able to breathe in the scent of nature, feel the air dance across one’s skin, and tune into the sound of water where it is otherwise impossible only enriches how the user of a space experiences that space. Nothing can ever truly replace the physiological and psychological benefits of nature itself upon an individual. Nevertheless, biophilic design in the very least can recreate at a snippet of that by drawing upon nature’s elements. One example of this using nature tables and biomorphic designs to change how own perceives a space, and thereby bring it as close to nature as possible. Understanding how biophilic design and its principles work, and then adapting them to our interiors carries great importance if we wish to free ourselves from the negative energy generated by urban living in favour moving closer towards mother nature.