The benefits of biophilic design for health & wellbeing

The benefits of biophilic design for health & wellbeing

Biophilic design at 240 BlackfriarsLiving wall at 240 Blackfriars

“Health & well being is the new frontier in sustainable design, growing fast as we realise the many benefits” – Oliver Heath during #MDSChat

There has been a lot of talk in the industry recently about sustainable building design, focusing on interiors and the health, wellbeing and productivity of occupants – rather than just looking at the aesthetics of building design.

The May Design Series released a biophilic design report and also held a Twitter Chat back in December, where wellbeing experts Oliver Heath, Elina Grigoriou and Vertology discussed biophilic design principles and their benefits.

What is biophilic design?
“Biophilic design helps us understand that our very health & well being is deeply connected to that of nature” – Oliver Heath during #MDSChat

Biophilic design is a set of principles that maximise human's connection with nature to create spaces that promote wellbeing, health and productivity. Research demonstrates that this approach can reduce stress and promote creativity in the workplace, improve recovery times in hospital, and promote learning in educational spaces.

During Ecobuild 2015, Oliver Heath summarised four main principles of biophilic design:

1. Natural Light: The use of natural light is fundamental to the health & wellbeing potential of the spaces that we live & work in.
2. Recuperation spaces: A place where you can reflect can improve your physical and mental wellbeing, and restore cognitive functioning.
3. Natural materials: Integrating natural materials is key, such as integrating plants into interior spaces and using stone cladding.
4. Dynamic views of nature: Connect even small spaces to nature using plants and landscapes.

What are the benefits of biophilic design?
“Many studies have shown connection with nature reduces stress, promotes healing, improves health & productivity” – Vertology during #MDSChat

Here are some of the benefits of biophilic design for different sectors:

Commercial: In offices, increased wellbeing of a company’s work force could lead to good staff retention, and ultimately to increased productivity, creativity, and engagement.
Healthcare: Recovery spaces can be calmer, more comforting, and all round more pleasant places to be, meaning faster recovery and reduced pain can be achieved.
Residential: In residential and hospitality projects, benefits can include the wellbeing of the end users, with reduced stress and increased ‘sense of place’.
Retail: A more positive buying mood can be achieved, and sales can be increased in day lit stores, benefiting both the customer and retailer.

It is important to remember that as environments and people’s needs change, the biophilic design elements will need to evolve to continue to meet the requirements for sustainable wellbeing.

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