A very talented architect sent this article to a group of us, and it just zeroed in on my passions in hospitality… a conscious design that makes hospitality more about wellness and healing. Biophilic design is about understanding our deep and profoundly ancient, and important, connection with nature. We engineered it out of our lives, in so many ways, throughout the last 200 years, and especially in the 20th Century.
Bioclimatic design is about designing around the landscape and climate in such a way that doesn’t “fight” how the normal landscape and atmosphere exists, but exploits the existing natural states to create efficiencies and logistics around the intended uses of the building. Biomimicry is the study of nature to bring out better forms and structures.
These relatively newer approaches to architecture, design, and construction of physical spaces will inform our landscapes and skylines for the rest of human history. It has been man’s clumsy skill to attempt to dominate nature, building on top of it, with brutalist notions of subjugating or vanquishing it, as if it were proving, yet again, that we’re the top of the food chain. But that arrogance is now fading into an awareness that we are needlessly fighting against the natural order, and the form and function of a natural realm that has mastered design through millions of years of evolution.
This definitely gets into a realm of hospitality that is so important… it ties form, function, psychology, mental and physical health into the way we interact with spaces and design. Post Ranch was a nice example of working into the landscape without disrupting it, but I still see more opportunity for, I guess, a nearly sociobiological approach to how we should exist in and around nature, and how we perceive those structures that we rely on. It’s also important to know this is a meaningful marriage of form and function working seamlessly together, informing human needs, while also playing to our deeply rooted and historic cultural needs of symmetry or aesthetic.
“What you look at matters” is something I believe strongly, and have legitimately fought for views of nature throughout my personal and professional life. It’s been extremely important to my own health and sanity. I also feel quite a bit of privilege in having found those views, when so many people would benefit from a little more integration with nature, and likely don’t even realize it. It’s worth at least a few points on the old blood pressure. =) To see consulting groups move from general “work place well being” into the hospitality industry, asking these important questions, is a joy. Their full report on hospitality findings can be accessed here: http://humanspaces.com/resources/reports/
But moving into the future, all permaculture is beginning to address all of these profound human needs of placement within nature as natural and vital. Biomimicry and bioclimactic design definitely uses nature, instead of fighting against it. Just what we’re learning about form and function from an insect’s wing can inform how we successfully buttress complex interior walkways, etc. Engineered solutions, although sometimes elegant, or prescriptive and retroactive, or at best, inefficient. The notion of natural evolution might suggest that 3.8 million years of evolution have created more elegant solutions to common problems of form or structure. Sure, biomimicry exists in architecture and engineering, but to trap it into any one field truly limits it’s overall potential as a guiding philosophy to more than just design. You’ll eventually have sentient structures that can move or shape itself as needed, be it because of elements or other external factors.
Here is a quick run down of exactly what Biophilic design requires. “If design doesn’t focus on aspects of the natural world that contribute to human health and productivity in the age-old struggle to be fit and survive, it is not biophilic“.
- Biophilic design emphasizes human adaptations to the natural world that over evolutionary time have proven instrumental in advancing people’s health, fitness, and wellbeing. Exposures to nature irrelevant to human productivity and survival exert little impact on human wellbeing and are not effective instances of biophilic design.
- Biophilic design depends on repeated and sustained engagement with nature. An occasional, transient, or isolated experience of nature exerts only superficial and fleeting effects on people, and can even, at times, be at variance with fostering beneficial outcomes.
- Biophilic design requires reinforcing and integrating design interventions that connect with the overall setting or space. The optimal functioning of all organisms depends on immersion within habitats where the various elements comprise a complementary, reinforcing, and interconnected whole. Exposures to nature within a disconnected space – such as an isolated plant or an out of context picture or a natural material at variance with other dominant spatial features – is NOT effective biophilic design.
- Biophilic design fosters emotional attachments to settings and places. By satisfying our inherent inclination to affiliate with nature, biophilic design engenders an emotional attachment to particular spaces and places. These emotional attachments motivate people’s performance and productivity, and prompt us to identify with and sustain the places we inhabit.
- Biophilic design fosters positive and sustained interactions and relationships among people and the natural environment. Humans are a deeply social species whose security and productivity depends on positive interactions within a spatial context. Effective biophilic design fosters connections between people and their environment, enhancing feelings of relationship, and a sense of membership in a meaningful community.
If you need to see some more examples of environmental (not necessarily just biophilic design), this article has some awesome practical applications:
Now…. add all of this consciousness and innovation to the modern realm of 3D printing, and we are at the front end of an absolute revolution of design and materials, that can support weights and designs the human mind can barely comprehend.