Embracing biophilic design principles By Sarah Jones
Currently in the B.C. Step Code, there is a heavy focus on energy efficient buildings, and while this focus will continue as Vancouver aims to be 100 per cent renewable (Vancouver Greenest City 2050 Plan, Vancouver Zero Emissions Building Plan), there is now more than ever room to expand the scope of what building green means. We see the opportunity is ripe to now incorporate biophilic design into all projects, which is ultimately a win for everyone. 22
DESIGN QUARTERLY | Summer 2018
For the love of nature We all have an inherent love of nature and a connection to the natural world that is deep and profound. Many of us may not even be aware of this. Why do we think of peace and tranquility when we imagine a beach and palm trees? Or, (as described so perfectly by Browning, Ryan, Clancy, 2014), why is it that “crackling fires and crashing waves captivate us… garden view[s] enhance our creativity… shadows and heights instill fascination and fear… animal companionship and strolling through a park have restorative, healing effects”. These aspects of nature trigger emotional and cognitive responses within us, meanwhile beautiful nature arouses interest, curiosity, creativity, and imagination (Kellert, Calabrese, 2015). It’s no wonder — our minds and bodies have evolved in the natural world. Couple this with our increasing awareness of how perfect a system our planet is (it’s far superior to the invented human world), biophilic design is an obvious choice as we move forward in the green building landscape. Fortunately, biophilic design has become a feature in several prominent building standards (the WELL Building Standard, the Living Building Challenge, portions of LEED).
What exactly is biophilic design? Biophilic design is a strategy that integrates nature into the built environment. Not only does it aim to address the ailments generated by conventional buildings — stress, decreased productivity, a diminished feeling of wellbeing — but it also aims to inspire us, reconnect us to nature, celebrate the natural world, and live more healthful lives. It’s a challenge for project teams to ponder as we re-think how to build while adopting a more bio-centric mindset rather than a strictly human-centric mindset. A peek into the literature There are so many aspects of nature that we can draw inspiration from. Here are a few nature-design relationships, as described by Browning, Ryan, and Clancy (2014). First, examples of Nature in Space Patterns (which addresses physical, direct, and ephemeral presence of nature): • Presence of water; • Thermal and airflow variability; •V isual and non-visual connections with nature; •D ynamic and diffuse light and shadows; •C onnections with natural systems; and, • A visual connection to nature.
Design Quarterly | Summer 2018