Most of us spend more time indoors than out. As a result, building professionals are rethinking how we design, use and occupy the built environment.
Biophilic design, in particular, is increasingly being used to boost occupant experience and well-being through connection to nature and the use of natural elements like natural light, plants, water and exposed wood.
Today, this emerging trend is increasingly a market expectation, with tenants seeking sustainable, functional and aesthetically pleasing features throughout their offices, homes, retail and hospitality spaces.
Biophilic research and design principles are predicted to shape the built environment in the next decade. McKinsey & Company predicts that wellness is the next trillion-dollar industry, as employers invest in healthy living programs and as customers take more responsibility for optimizing their own health.
More and more companies are seeing the benefits of biophilic design and timber-built architecture, as research suggests it can boost employees’ morale, productivity and sense of wellness. With heightened awareness of health and safety as a result of the pandemic, these factors are likely to become even more relevant in the “new normal” workspace.
Biophilic design also can impact real estate values. Prices show that people will pay more for properties with good views of nature, and developers are seeing higher lease rates for offices with natural wood environments.
While good architecture doesn’t guarantee good health, evidence is growing that a well-designed building — including exposure to natural elements like wood — can lead to an improved sense of well-being for occupants, from reducing stress to boosting productivity.
Case in point: A study from the University of British Columbia and FPInnovations has established a link between wood and human health. Four office environments were created to study the effects of natural materials in the built environment on autonomic nervous system responses. In the study, stress, as measured by sympathetic nervous system activation, was lower in the wood room in all periods of the study.
Research firm Terrapin Bright Green created the “14 Patterns of Biophilic Design” to articulate the relationships between nature, human biology and the design of the built environment.
These patterns focus on psychological, physiological and cognitive benefits of biophilic design, and are inspiring innovative new ideas in architecture.
While informed by science, biophilic design patterns are not formulas; they are meant to inform, guide and assist in the design process and should be thought of as another tool in the designer’s toolkit.
Think Wood’s Biophilic Design LookBook explores how to implement biophilic techniques in over 50 pages of project examples, design inspirations and the latest research.
Find ideas for your next project and see how developers and architects are translating science into inspirational new surroundings.
Harnessing the beauty of its densely forested site, Canyon Commons Dining Hall cultivates connections between interior and exterior spaces by providing access to natural daylight and views into the forest canopy.
The Portland Japanese Garden’s Cultural Village is positioned along a journey from the city to the top of the hill, wherein the pilgrimage pays homage to the spirit of nature. The buildings are wrapped with wood battens that mimic the tall vertical lines of the surrounding Pacific Northwest conifers.