In his white paper “Biophilia and Healing Environments,” author and architect Nikos Salingaros proposes that bringing biophilia — our love for the natural world — into our buildings and workspaces can create positive, healing environments.
Biophilic design, he says, benefits both the designer and the user because it is mentally and emotionally nourishing.
Put another way, biophilic design, whether at home or at work, contributes to mindfulness. And in these stressful times, who couldn’t use a little more encouragement to pause and notice what’s happening in the moment?
Let’s take a step back and define biophilic design. According to environmental design consultant Bill Browning, biophilic design embraces our innate affinity for the natural world by “bringing experiences of nature to us in the built environment; this can include living plants, water, daylight, natural materials, fractal patterns and spaces that support prospect views or provide a refuge condition.”
Browning says these biophilic experiences can reduce stress, improve cognitive function, and enhance mood and creativity — and, by extension, productivity. Using natural elements in office design can help relieve employee anxiety and create room for people to breathe.
Though the most powerful biophilic designs integrate large natural elements, such as living walls and courtyard gardens, biophilic elements don’t have to be extravagant to encourage people to slow down and be present. Even a thoughtfully placed bonsai tree or succulent can have a calming, centering influence, reminding people of their connection to the living world.
Designers who want to incorporate biophilia into their designs can start by thinking about how natural elements stimulate the senses and thus kindle self-awareness and focus. Here are some thought starters:
What examples have you seen of ways to encourage mindful practice through biophilic design in the workplace? Share your ideas in the comments.
Viewing natural elements indoors reminds people of their connection to nature. This setting features the Sagegreenlife Verdanta Living Partition as a backdrop to the Potrero415 Light Table with Aleta Stools from the Viccarbe Imports Collection.
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