Biophilia – What It Is & How You Can Apply It To Your Space

Biophilia is the “connection that humans seek to other life forms”. It is part of our genetic make-up as we inherently seek to incorporate nax ture into our daily lives. And, when absent, it can negatively affect our mental and physical health.

Dr. Stephen Kellert, in his Biophilia Hypothesis, states that there are 9 VALUES that reflect the richness of human reliance on the natural world for fitness and security. The 9 Values are:

l Utilitarian: where nature is a source of physical and material benefit
l Naturalistic: where humans have direct contact with & experience nature
l Scientific: the study and empirical observation of nature & exploration
l Aesthetic: the physical appeal and attraction to nature
l Symbolic: where nature is seen as a source of metaphorical & communicative thought
l Humanistic: the emotional attachment & bond for nature with domestic/companion animals and/or places
l Moralistic: the moral and/or spiritual relation to nature
l Dominionistic: the mastery or control of nature, which can be protective OR destructive
l Negativistic: a human fear of, or aversion to, nature

Now, knowing this, why should you care about incorporating nature and any natural elements into your design plan? The benefits of being outside and/or interacting with nature are many, as science & research is proving (Evidence-based Design). Mother Nature truly provides us with a “natural Prozac” by helping to foster social ties, increases cognitive functioning, lowers stress, and enhances coping abilities & problem solving skills.

***Outdoor recreation, including gardening, helps increase self-esteem, independence and initiative…So get outside & play!***

Some easy-to-apply tips to help “bring the outdoors in” include:y

l Use LIVE plants in your space. It is recommended that you use 1 LIVE plant for every 100 square feet of interior space to help clean & detox indoor air. Indoor air quality is deemed 3x more toxic than outdoor air according to the EPA.
l Use natural elements in your design scheme. This can include wood furniture, picture frames and accessories. Earthen items made of brick, stone, tile or clay (ex: tile flooring) and artwork representing nature “scenes” such as gardens, forests and/or beach landscapes.
l Make the most of a great outdoor view by hanging a mirror at a 90 degree angle to the window to “double” the view.
l It is imperative to utilize all 5 of the senses in Biophilic Design: smell, touch, taste, sight and touch.

Knowing about & utilizing Biophilia in your design is especially important in healthcare settings and/or if you or a family member experiences health issues. Incorporating nature and/or nature scenes in any healthcare application can speed-up the healing process as it proves to be a “positive distraction, helps to alleviate stress of the patient, staff and family”. In fact, research & white papers on this topic are showing a statistically significant positive affect of just VIEWING nature and/or nature scenes!

Biophilic Design then, integrates nature with the architecture of the space to help “enliven” the biophilia of the environment, and thereby increasing life quality of all inhabitants.

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