Biophilic Design embraces the concept that the integration of nature and natural elements into the built environment enhances the experience, happiness and wellbeing of the occupants of the space. These design principles are based on the idea that humans have a passive connection with nature which aids in their wellbeing. A connection with nature can be through the form of plants, running water, or wildlife sounds.
So what are the advantages of including nature (plants) in building design?
Whether it’s bringing pot plants into a room or integrating planting areas into a building, these design movements are quickly becoming more prevalent. Incorporating plants into the design of a building, and within the greater urban context of a building, can lead to improved psychological and physiological welfare for people, help to reduce the heat island effect (urban heat gain), thus aid in combating climate change.
Poor indoor air quality is known as one of the leading causes of sick building syndrome – refer to our ‘healthy & safe buildings’ blog post for more on this topic. Chemical pollutant build-ups have a massive impact on the quality of our indoor air. The introduction of plants can aid in the filtration of our indoor air. The photosynthesis process allows any carbon dioxide in the air to be absorbed and released as oxygen throughout the day.
Plants can also contribute largely to the thermal performance of a building. Larger species, like trees and hedges, can provide necessary shading during summer months. Plantation shading can reduce the surface temperature of materials, thus decreases the heat transfer to the internal spaces. When purposefully used in a building, this can lower the need to air-condition spaces, and further reduces the energy consumption.
The construction of buildings requires the use of many materials that amount to a carbon debt gained from the embodied energy of the materials. These planting regions on the site or building result in lowering the building’s carbon footprint.
The integration of plants into homes and offices, allow their occupants to better connect with nature. Connecting humans with biophilic principles shows that, by the introduction of nature into work environments, particularly offices, helps boost productivity. Research proves that employees who work in environments that have either pot plants or views to plantation areas report increased job satisfaction and reduced sick days, stress levels and anxiety.
The end product of incorporating nature into the design of a building creates a more comfortable living or working place that avoids any damaging effects of sick building syndrome. Furthermore, the environmental contribution to the climate and surrounding areas means for any building; it is imperative to incorporate some degree of organic life.