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The Curious Case of Biophilic Design

Biophilic design is a concept used within the building industry to increase occupant connectivity to the natural environment through the use of direct nature, indirect nature, and space and place conditions. Used at both the building and city-scale, it is argued that this idea has health, environmental, and economic benefits for building occupants and urban environments, with few drawbacks. Although its name was coined in recent history, indicators of biophilic design have been seen in architecture from as far back as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Hanging Gardens of Babylon

What Is and Is Not Biophilic Design?

According to Stephen R Kellert, Tweedy Ordway Professor Emeritus of Social Ecology and Senior Research Scholar at the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, since today’s “natural habitat” is largely the built environment, where we now spend 90% of our time, biophilic design seeks to satisfy our innate need to affiliate with nature in modern buildings and cities. Thus, the fundamental goal of biophilic design is to create good habitat for people as biological organisms inhabiting modern structures, landscapes, and communities. Accomplishing this objective depends on meeting certain conditions. First, because biophilia is essentially about evolved human tendencies, biophilic design focuses on those aspects of nature that, over evolutionary time, have contributed to our health and wellbeing. Let us be clear on this point: Any occurrence of nature in the built environment cannot be called biophilic design if it has no bearing on our species’ inborn tendencies that have advanced our fitness and survival.

Simply put, biophilic design focuses on those aspects of the natural world that have contributed to human health and productivity in the age-old struggle to be fit and survive. Thus, desert or deep-sea habitats or microorganisms or alien or extinct species or other obscure aspects of nature are largely irrelevant as aspects of biophilic design because they offer little if anything in the way of sustained benefits to people.

Changi Airport

Biophilia Environment in Mangrove Point, Malaysia

Even at Clouston Design, we have projects that is influenced by Biophilic Design most recently Mangrove Point in Sungai Klang, Selangor. Mangrove Point is dynamic and possesses a unique ecosystem. The surrounding nature stimulates the element of meditation, health and well being through biophilia environment. This enables interaction and relationships between human and nature through passive recreation based on the Eight Perceived Sensory Dimension or 'PSD'. Thus, our designs are developed to achieve certain benefits for people to restore their ecological health by having thermal comfort, prospect and refuge, closeness to nature, and as an escape from the outside world

Proposed design for Mangrove Point by Clouston Design STudio (M) Sdn Bhd

Why it matters?

A 2016 report from the engineering firm Arup argues that buildings should all be covered with greenery as a way of pulling carbon dioxide from the air, filtering air pollution, reducing noise, and keeping cities cooler. At the end of the day, all of us are better off when we have more nature in our lives. Biophilic design simply recognizes that truth and helps to make our spaces, our buildings, and even our cities a little less gray and a little more green.

We hope that this post was beneficial for all in ensuring a brighter future for the next generation and generation now. We invite readers to email us regarding any topics you would like for us to write about. Till then, stay safe and spread love!

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