An Introduction to Biophilic Design
By definition, biophilia is our human innate and biological affinity with the natural world. Humans have a subconscious desire to connect with nature in their surroundings. In turn, Biophilic Design incorporates elements and patterns found in the natural world into spaces where we work, live, and play to the benefit of those who inhabit these spaces.
Biophilic Design provides us the foundation to help positively affect both human and ecological well-being within the built environment by sensitively responding to unique ecology of place, culture, history and beauty; creating places of joy, inspiration and interconnection. Biophilic Design goals and strategies have evolved out of research areas such as environment and behavior studies, biology, and physical and psychological health. Empirical evidence shows that Biophilic Design causes psychological and physiological effects that support healing, learning, cognitive skills, and creativity. Furthermore, people enjoy spaces that connect them to nature as a result of these inherent biological connections.
The benefits of Biophilic Design can also be assigned monetary value having been shown to positively affect issues such as absenteeism and use of sick days, staff retention, job performance, healing rates, classroom learning rates, satisfaction, and reduction of stress and violence.
Aspecta In The Studio - Biophilic Design
Biophilic Elements and Patterns
These six elements, originally identified by Stephen R. Kellert, the originator of the discipline, provide a framework for Biophilic Design and the classification of over 70 attributes.Four of the six biophilic elements are represented in the Aspecta portfolio.
Use of the relatively well-recognized characteristics of the natural world.
Natural Materials: Experiences within nature are not only pleasurable and positively effects our emotional well-being, they also improve our physical health. Exposure to natural elements has been shown to increase comfort, reduce blood pressure and even benefit our creative and cognitive performance. The rich tones and intricate figuring of Aspecta’s designs embody the natural elements of wood and stone, bringing the direct benefits of the natural world to our human experience in the built environment.
Image: Living wall in the Metroflor Design and Innovation Center, Calhoun, GA
Color: Color can drive both emotive and physiological responses – provoking feelings of calm, attention, focus, and energy. Bright, bold colors remind us of features of the natural world: the sky, a sunset, a forest, the bright glow of the sun, or a blooming flower. Strategic application of color is a prime mechanism for enhancing the experience of an interior space using Biophilic Design.
Image: The Biofit Gym, the world’s first biophilic indoor gym in London, UK.
NATURAL SHAPES AND FORMS
Integration of representations and simulations of the natural world.
Simulation of Natural Features: Our senses are trained to recognize order, patterns, and structures that occur in the natural world. Recognition of these same features in non-natural materials stimulates a positive response – allowing us to apply a familiar logic to their understanding. Aspecta’s close attention to the visual details and textures of wood grain or stone reinforce our perception of the integrity of the material and our appreciation of it.
Image: Welsh Assembly Builidng in the UK.
Biomorphic: The patterns and structures found in nature have been tested and have evolved to enable organisms to thrive. Biomorphic design does not attempt to replicate natural forms, but similarities and resemblances allow us to make inferences about their formal logic.
Botanical Motifs: Botanical motifs, resembling natural forms such as leaves, stems, and shells, serve as abstractions of nature. Through their organic overprint of shape and form, the patterns of Biophilic Design inherent in Aspecta’s Ornamental line offers us an experience of naturally ordered complexity and richness. The scale of these patterns contributes to their visual interest and decorative effect.
Image: The Supertrees in the Singapore Gardens by the Bay. The trees mimic form and function of real trees.
Shapes Resisting Straight Lines and Right Angles: Natural features seldom consist of straight lines and right angles, and instead, are revealed as curves and organic forms shaped by natural forces. Straight lines and right angles are evident in human engineering, and manufactured products and structures.
NATURAL PATTERNS AND PROCESSES
Emphasis on the incorporation of properties found in nature.
Information Richness: Our human bodies thrive on experiences that engage our rich sensory system, with a preference for the complexity that nature provides. Biophilic Design elements can mimic the patterns of nature, stimulating interest and provoking engagement. The layering of a variety of natural textures and patterns creates a deep layering of information for our brains and bodies to respond to, which in turn can facilitate our cognitive functioning, creativity, curiosity or imagination.
Fractals: Fractals are mathematically defined patterns of self-repetition and scale that occur in nature. Snow flakes, tree branches, shells, mountains, plants, are all examples of fractals. Patterns that exhibit fractal scaling naturally stimulate our visual and tactile interest. Our brains are trained to respond positively to fractal patterns with densities similar to those found in nature.
Image left: Hindu Temple in Delhi, India. The ceilings feature a fractal-like effect, each separate but also make up a pattern as a whole.
Age, Change and the Patina of Time: We are naturally drawn to materials and patterns that accurately register the continuous passing of time. Simulating the traces of natural processes - weathering, decay, wear - encourages our reading of materials as natural rather than artificial. We are encouraged to read a history, a time-worn presence of material, which adds to the richness, complexity, and appreciation of an environment.
Sensory Variability: In nature, one does not find monotonous repetition. We find rhythmic repetition and layers of beauty, which, to the human mind and body, we experience as comfort and reassurance. Stimulating our senses through variations in our environment, including light, texture, and color, allows us to purposefully engage with and respond to our environment.
Image right: Facade renovation of the Suites Vacenue Aparthoel in Barcelona, Spain. The biomorphic forms diffuse and alter the light coming into the builidng giving residents a more natural light experience.
Integration of Parts to Whole: Stemming from our biological need for information, this pattern helps to satisfy our human affinity for biomorphic forms from which our bodies and minds find accord; tracing the edges of the shapes, we complete the forms.
PLACE BASED RELATIONSHIPS
The successful connection of culture with ecology in a geographical context.
Integration of Place and Culture: The Biophilic Design appeal of this style speaks to our innate human affinity to be deeply rooted in history, to experience a meaningful relationship to place, and to be connected to the world.
Image left: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water
Want to learn more?
Take a deep dive into Biophilic Design with an on-site presentation of Aspecta’s CEU “Biophilic Design and Resilient Flooring” by an Aspecta representative. Click here to make your request and an Aspecta representative will contact you to schedule the CEU at your location.
If you are looking to gain CEU credits on your own schedule, you can take the CEU online at AEC Daily.
Aspecta Product Biophilia Design Matrix
Explore the biophilic elements and patterns represented in the Aspecta product portfolio below.
|Environmental Features||Natural Shapes and Forms||Natural Patterns and Processes||Place Based Relationships|
|Product Series||Product Collection||Natural Materials||Color||Simulation of Natural Features||Shapes Resisting Straight Lines and Right Angles||Biomorphic||Botanical Motifs||Information Richness||Fractals||Age, Change, and the Patina of Time||Sensory Variability||Integration of Parts to Whole||Integration of Place and Culture|