"In every walk with nature one receives far more than one seeks." - John Muir
Biophilia - Ever heard of it? It has become somewhat of a "buzz word" in the design industry, and for good reason.
Biophilia is defined as humankind's innate biological connection with nature and all that is alive and well. For me, it is a perceived portal leading to everything I have been theorizing in the creation of this blog, so you could imagine the excitement and intrigue upon my discovery!
The biophilia hypothesis was first introduced by Erich Fromm to identify a psychological orientation of being attracted to all that is alive and vital. It is essentially a part of biological evolution and is said to strengthen life and support sociological and psychological components. A "biophilic space" has been defined as an environment that is able to:
- unburden our cognitive system;
- support in collecting and recognizing more information in the quickest and most efficient way;
- foster the optimum of our sensorial system in terms of neuro-motorial influence (AKA movement);
- avoid both depressive and exciting effects (AKA balance & stability);
- induce a strengthening in emotive and biological terms at a neural level (AKA feeling);
- support the neural, endocryne, and immunological system (AKA overall health & well-being).
So with that said, come away with me for a moment . . . imagine the crackling of a fire or the crashing of waves; close your eyes and envision a garden or rolling meadows or a splendid forest; conjure the feeling you get when you're with your pet or around an animal you love and admire.
The sensations that these relationships give us are the crux of Biophilia, and demonstrate why aspects of life and nature have such deep impacts on our internal state of being. Articulation of these relationships between nature, science, and the built environment produce a framework that I find fascinating, because analyzing and understanding these relationships can lead to better design and a better world.
In an ever-urbanizing society, it becomes increasingly important to design built spaces in ways that enhance and expedite our well-being. Thanks to the study of biophilia, there is measurable research that supports positive impacts of Biophilic Design on health and humankind.
It is a concept that we intuitively know and understand (hence Life in a Tent musings and ponderings), but research has identified a specific, scientific term to the notion, spawning the development of a system of knowledge and research to explore. And while biophilia is a universal term that addresses a myriad of applications and implementations, applying it to the study of architecture and design provides a basis to uncover patterns and illuminate methods with which to completely transform the art of designing the human environment.
If you know me or have ever read my blog, you could imagine my interest in this field of study. It takes everything I practice and preach and outlines it in black and white, affirming my core values and beliefs, which simply are that humans NEED nature. We need to be around it and we need to be apart of it. Wilderness is a necessity to the human spirit - without it we feel lost, disconnected, distressed.
The concept of Re-Wilding (also fascinating, feel free to take a tangent) similarly promotes this connectivity between human and natural processes, but in a sort of contradicted way to biophilic design. And while I believe whole heartedly in the establishment of re-wilding, biophilic design leads way to promoting this connection within our public spaces, offices, and homes. Because in all honesty, as much as I wish this world remained raw, untouched spaces of natural glory, there is also a need for shelter, protection, and function to a certain degree.
Which leads me through a series of questions, like -
Why do we build?
What are we hoping to achieve?
To create a safe, functional environment?
To maintain a controlled space and atmosphere in which to inhabit?
And for what purpose?
What innate need requires us to inhabit these built environments that we have become so obsessed with creating?
This world is always changing, moving and growing, and as humans I think we are subconsciously searching for ways to maintain control yet grow with the change in a healthy manner with an ultimate pursuit of happiness.
So we look at our built environments - the way that they inform our lives and how they can keep us connected to the enduring cycles of growth and reprieve - and try to define the architecture of life.
What elements connect the humans inside to their true nature and the nature of this world?
What design features are in place to help balance, heal, stimulate, enhance, and overcome?
In this modern day society, these are no longer ideas - they are necessities.
Technology mixed with the breadth of design concepts, techniques, and materials available provide a haven of options for just about any intention or effect we are looking to create in any given space for any given purpose. Manipulating different elements of the built environment such as light, color, shape, volume, texture, geometry, dimension, etc., have the potential to satisfy and even surpass this notion that humans need to be connected - to themselves, to others, to nature, and to this world.
It is conclusive at this point that in order to progress towards the betterment of society, it is imperative that we create built environments, but for the sake of humankind it is even more imperative that we do so in a way that safeguards and secures our fundamental rights to live, love, and prosper. As humans, we have the privilege of privacy, protection, function and comfort; improved cognitive function, clarity of mind, creativity, and internal reflection; and facilitation of our health and overall well-being as a society, throughout the world.
Promoting and activating the explorative nature of the human psyche through our surroundings in an effort to nurture the growth, development, and prosperity of the human race. THAT is what this world needs, the essence of biophilic design, and what I am here to passionately preach, practice, and pursue.
“Keep close to nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain, or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”
— John Muir
Anyone up for a walk through the park?
This is just the beginning my friends. See you next time,