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Biophilic Architecture

Biophilic Architecture: the perfect synthesis of nature and design

Discover how biophilic design architecture can enhance your well-being. Innovative ideas for a healthier and more harmonious environment.


Contemporary architecture is called upon to respond to increasingly complex challenges, from eco-sustainability to the construction of vertical cities and structures capable of withstanding extreme weather conditions. In this context, many professionals are turning to an essential and universal element: nature. This experience is at the core of biophilic design, an innovative approach to architecture and design that seeks to bring nature into interior spaces, creating harmonious and healthy environments. In this article, we will explore what biophilic design is, what it entails, and the reasons for its growing success. Therefore, we will also look at some projects in Italy, how to incorporate it into construction projects, and the benefits it offers.

If you also wish to incorporate biophilic design into your construction project, you should rely on 3D architectural design software that effectively combines architecture, interior design, and green design.

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What Is Biophilic Design?

To fully understand biophilic design, we must return to its roots in ‘biophilia,’ or ‘love for nature,’ a concept first introduced by Erich Fromm, a psychoanalyst who argued for the innate connection between humans and nature. Biophilic design is an approach that aims to create interior spaces inspired by the beauty and functionality of natural systems. It is based on the idea that by incorporating natural elements into the environments in which we live and work, we can improve physical and mental well-being. This design focuses on establishing connections between people and the surrounding environment. The goal is to strike a balance between our built environment and the natural world, bringing nature within the walls of buildings.

Characteristics of Biophilic Design

Biophilic design is based on several principles, all aimed at recreating the natural mechanisms in which humans originally immersed themselves. Stephen Kellert, one of the pioneers of this approach, defined them as follows:

  1. Light: Natural light influences the comfort and well-being of people. Biophilic design promotes the use of extensive skylights and windows that contribute to a bright environment.
  2. Plants: Plants are essential for reducing stress, promoting productivity, and improving physical well-being. Infact, in biophilic design, vegetation is integrated both indoors and outdoors.
  3. Animals: Interaction with animals is recreated through the use of aquariums or gardens, promoting mental stimulation and calmness.
  4. Natural Landscapes: Biophilic design creates natural landscapes by utilizing expansive views or gardens to enhance the well-being of occupants.
  5. Weather: Allowing occupants to observe weather conditions contributes to their awareness and mental stimulation through expansive windows.
  6. Air: Biophilic design ensures that occupants perceive temperature, humidity, and ventilation consistently in their environment.
  7. Water: The use of water features, such as fountains and aquariums, helps reduce stress and promote productivity.
  8. Fire: If incorporated carefully, the element of fire can make the environment pleasant, providing warmth, liveliness, and movement.

All these elements integrate with natural materials, colors inspired by nature, and images of landscapes, creating a harmonious environment.

Benefits of Biophilic Design in Architecture and Construction

Biophilic design not only offers benefits for the health and well-being of occupants but also extends to environmental and economic advantages. For instance, vegetative elements like plants and trees can reduce overall building emissions, while tree-lined streets reduce heat absorption from the road surface. From an economic standpoint, biophilic design can increase sales in stores and enhance workplace productivity. Additionally, it can contribute to reducing crime rates in certain situations. From a health perspective, this practice appears to reduce depression and pain among hospitalized patients, accelerating recovery.

Biophilic Design as an Innovative Approach

Biophilic design is much more than an aesthetic trend; it is an innovative approach that seamlessly integrates with sustainable design. This approach emphasizes the importance of respecting the natural environment, not only in construction but also in the daily use of spaces. By incorporating natural elements such as plants and natural lighting into design, we can reduce the environmental impact of buildings and improve the quality of life for people.

Designing with Biophilic Design: Guidelines

To incorporate biophilic design into a construction project, there are some useful guidelines to follow. Embrace the colors of nature, using light shades reminiscent of the surrounding environment, such as leafy greens or earthy tones. Natural materials like wood and raw fabrics can be used to create a sense of warmth and comfort. Additionally, natural lighting is essential. Large windows and intelligent use of sunlight can significantly improve the quality of interior spaces.
Biophilic design can be organized into three categories: Nature in Space, Natural Analogues, and Nature of Space, providing a framework for understanding and allowing the thoughtful integration of a rich diversity of strategies in the built environment.

  1. Nature in Space: This category includes the perceptual features of an environment, such as views of natural elements and the quality of natural light, as well as features that bring natural elements into interior spaces, such as water or plants.
  2. Natural Analogues: This involves bringing indirect evocations of nature into environments, such as natural materials, colors, objects, shapes, and images.
  3. Nature of Space: These are the space characteristics that influence human perception and can affect the autonomic nervous system, including “prospect,” which is an unobstructed view, “refuge” as a place to retreat from primary activities and unwind, and “mystery,” which represents corners of inhabited space that can stimulate curiosity.

The 14 Patterns of Biophilic Design

The fourteen features (patterns) based on scientific research and considered necessary for creating biophilic environments are:

Nature in Space

  • Visual connection with nature
  • Non-visual connection with nature
  • Non-rhythmic sensory stimuli
  • Thermal and airflow variability
  • Presence of water
  • Dynamic and diffuse light
  • Connection with natural systems

Natural Analogues

  • Biomorphic forms and patterns
  • Material connection with nature
  • Complexity and order

Nature of Space

  • Perspective
  • Refuge
  • Mystery
  • Risk/Danger

Examples of Biophilic Design Application

Biophilic design and architecture are gradually finding more use in Italy, given the numerous benefits they offer. Some famous examples of application include:

The Vertical Forest in Milan, a renowned complex of towers designed by Stefano Boeri that houses over 800 trees, 5,000 shrubs, and 15,000 plants, all distributed based on the buildings’ exposure to sunlight. The vegetation of the two towers helps absorb fine particles and CO2 while producing oxygen and humidity.

La Balena in Guastalla, a nursery designed to stimulate children’s senses through design. A single-level structure with ample windows for natural lighting, while numerous laminated wood panels create a welcoming space. The environment is rich in sensory stimuli such as shapes, colors, and scents, offering children many creative opportunities. (Read the article and see the reconstruction of the project)

Project inspired by La Balena by MCArchitects - created with Edificius

Project inspired by La Balena by MCArchitects – created with Edificius

ACCA Software headquarters, a building in harmony with the environment, self-sustaining and energy-efficient, capable of ensuring the environmental sustainability of activities and the energy needed to maintain indoor well-being.

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Impact on Home Well-being

In homes, biophilic design can have a significant impact on the quality of life. By incorporating plants and natural light, you can create a welcoming and rejuvenating environment. Walls can be adorned with nature-inspired wallpaper, and the bedroom can feature plants that positively influence sleep quality. This approach transforms the home into a place of positivity and serenity, where nature is an integral part of daily life.

Natural Light and Materials

Natural sunlight is a key element of biophilic design. Unfortunately, many homes lack sufficient natural lighting. In such cases, bright wallpapers can help illuminate spaces. Natural materials like wood and raw fabrics improve air quality and contribute to a healthy atmosphere.

Conclusion

Finally,biophilic design is more than just an aesthetic trend; it promotes people’s well-being through a connection with nature. By incorporating natural elements into indoor environments, we can reduce stress, improve health, and create spaces that reflect our innate connection to the natural world. So, whether you’re planning a new building or simply want to enhance your environment, consider biophilic design as an approach that can make a difference in your daily life. And don’t forget to explore the possibilities of Edificius, a 3D architectural design software, to implement these ideas effectively and innovatively.

 

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