It’s amazing the power of a natural view. Various research projects over the years have proven the benefits of bringing nature into man-made spaces. It’s called biophilic design and it can help employees to be more productive, hospital patients to recover quicker and encourage children to learn.
If we consider that we spend some 90% of our time in built environments, it is imperative that the spaces we occupy enhance health and quality of life. Incorporating biophilic principles in a design can have the strongest positive effect on our psyche.
Looking out a window with views of natural vegetation has profound influences on human behaviour. A productivity study on workers in a call centre in Sacramento found that agents processed calls 6% to 12% faster when they had the best possible view versus those with no view. Another study showed that workers with a natural view recovered from low-level stress at a much quicker rate than those who only had a view of a blank wall. An outdoor perspective has been linked in several cases to enhanced productivity and greater levels of creativity.
Yet more positive data points to a 21% decrease in pain medication costs in hospitals where patients enjoyed a natural view. Then there are the educational statistics where schools with access to natural light reported an 18% increase in test scores. In general, access to sunlight, outdoor views and ventilation reduces eye strain and relieves mental fatigue. A simple view of the outdoors can also promote attendance – research confirms that 10% of workplace absenteeism can be attributed to a lack of access to nature.
It’s important then to understand the elements at play in true biophilic design. Design features must incorporate and connect aspects of the natural world that have traditionally offered sustained benefits to people (sunlight, water, green vegetation). It also must take an entire location into consideration. Biophilia is not a single occurrence of nature in a built environment (so putting a pot plant on everyone’s desk doesn’t count!) Biophilic design encompasses an integration of natural components that have an overall positive impact on the health and performance of the individuals who occupy the space.
If we know humans inherently seek out key aspects of a natural landscape in an urban environment, it makes so much sense to apply spatial design concepts that offers multi-sensory stimulation. This can include everything from the use of organic materials like wood and stone to natural textures, patterns and imagery, to installations like living walls, aquariums and fish ponds, and of course, access to outdoor views and spaces.
The use of natural elements to enhance buildings is a trend that is here to stay. The fact that we take our natural affinity to be close to all things green rather seriously is highlighted by the results of a recent global report: 33% of respondents confirmed that office design would impact a decision to accept a job or not.
When we understand that biophilic design can have a direct influence on our ability to attract talent, as well as boost a company’s bottom line, we know that it should be an essential element of every modern office space.
* Biophilia literally means ‘a love of life and the living world’
Key information sourced from: The Economics of Biophilia – Terrapin Bright Green