According to biologist E.O. Wilson, Biophilia refers to “an innate and genetically determined affinity of human beings with the natural world”. According to professor and author, Dr Stephen R. Kellert, Biophilic design is defined as “an innovative approach that emphasizes the necessity of maintaining, enhancing and restoring the beneficial experience of nature in the built environment.”
Humans are drawn to nature and often retreat there in times of turmoil. It makes sense then, that more and more healthcare facilities are integrating Biophilic design in their practices.
Implementing biophilic design in healthcare environments requires adhering to basic objectives. These principles consist of fundamental conditions for the effective practice of biolithic design:
- Repeated and sustained engagement with nature
- Focuses on human adaption to the natural world that over time has enhanced people’s health and fitness
- Emphasizes an emotional attachment to certain settings and places
- Promotes positive interactions between people and nature that expand understanding of community to include humans and nature.
- Encourages ecologically connected and integrated design solutions.
There are three ways of integrating nature in the built environment. These include:
- Direct Experience: Light, air, water, plants, weather and natural landscapes
- Indirect Experience: Images of nature, natural materials/colours and stimulating natural light and air
- Experience of Space and Place: prospect and refuge, transitional spaces, cultural and ecological attachment to place
The benefits of biophilic design include:
Reduced stress and Anxiety: Having a view of nature (whether a direct or indirect experience) lowers blood pressure and therefore reduces stress and anxiety.
Increased comfort and satisfaction
Improved mood * A positive distraction: sitting in a waiting room is nerve-wracking, but having a view of nature can take your mind off your upcoming medical appointment.