November 23, 2018

It’s the Time for Biophilic Design…

Q: What is ‘biophilia’?

A: An affinity for the natural world.

This month, we consulted Charlotte Kemp, a researcher in cognitive neuroscience at the University of Sussex and an Associate of The Centric Lab, on the subject of ‘Cognitive Neuroscience within the Built Environment’ – a precursor to ‘Biophilic Design’.

Charlotte highlighted the increasingly urgent problem of exponential growth in population combined with urbanisation and pollution in the 21st century and its negative effects on our physical and mental health. She shared with us scientific data that proved how, by factoring into our man-made surroundings design principles that adhere to the ancient laws of nature, we can vastly improve not only our physical, but also our spiritual and mental well-being.

This could be as simple as introducing house-plants and gentle lighting in interior building design; or trees, flowers, flowing water and wildlife-friendly areas in external areas/public realm design. Even natural colours – especially green – are necessary to help maintain our overall health.

The science behind it is this: as a species, our rate of evolution has been unable to keep pace with the rapid change in our environment since the beginning of the 20th Century, which means our innate happiness and contentment is still heavily dependent on exposure to healthy, natural surroundings; natural light; and peace and quiet.

We are consequently becoming more and more stressed and unhappy as the quality of our surroundings decreases.

In towns and cities, where the majority of us live, excessive light, noise, air and traffic pollution are choking our senses.

Daily evidence of the shocking impact of climate change and pollution all over the world indicates that we have now reached a tipping-point at which every industry needs to change its ways to help reduce the problem and try to maintain a healthy environment for years to come.

So, apart from the obvious moral obligation to future generations, what are other reasons for the building design industry as a whole, as well as we ourselves at Air, to incorporate biophilic design into everything we do?

As an agency dedicated to ‘making places people love,’ and with a number of clients in the retail sector, this is an important question.

We are constantly seeking new ways to help our clients improve the built environment in a way that maintains the sweet-spot between a worthwhile investment for them and experiential satisfaction for their customers.

Happily, Charlotte provided proof that commercial developers who invest in biophilic design principles are significantly more successful than those that do not; as the resulting good mood in people inspired by beautiful, inviting, clean and stress-free surroundings, makes them more inclined to spend their money on products, services or experiences.

The result: a win-win for people, design and the environment.


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