Sustainability Update: Biophilia


The study of Biophilia and the extent of research that clearly links physical and psychological health benefits to Biophilic design which make this a topic of considerable interest to building owners, business managers and construction professionals. Both the Living Building Challenge and the WELL building standard have biophilic elements encorporated within their standards.

Biophilia is a term that was originally coined by biologist E.O Wilson back in 1986. He defined it as our ‘innate tendency to focus on life and lifelike processes’. To put it in a few words Biophilia means that we have a deep-rooted connection to our natural world around us from thousands of years of our human species living within nature. Basically, it’s in our DNA. Have you observed a child playing with a butterfly or how a child can be intrigued by an army of marching ants? That is due to our inherent interest to understand and engage with our natural world around us.

Biophilic Buildings are more than just connecting building users with their natural environment by bringing the outdoors in. They are firmly rooted in the strengthening of our connections with nature through better lighting, access to views, biomorphic forms, natural materials and textures and patterns. This improved connection with nature can lead to improved performance of staff within the building and notable increases in concentration, ability to retain information and recovery times in patients.

When considering Biophilic buildings it is critical to not only think of the building and how it connects the users to nature but also how outdoor community spaces and play areas can be crafted to perform not only a play space function but also that of education, connection and enhanced  health and wellbeing. Evidence suggests that children who play in areas with access to raw nature (ie fir cones, trees, logs) are more likely to play more actively than those surrounded by brightly coloured metals and synthetic materials. (Reference: Natural playgrounds more beneficial to children, inspire more play, study finds).

Finally, what we are starting to see a shift from the view of sustainability as how humans treat the environment to how our environment can benefit humans.

Claire Bowles

Claire Bowles

Purpose Director