Physical contact with nature became for a city dweller a new luxury. We spend about 90% of our time under lock and key surrounded by static concrete. Such monotonous conditions depress our organisms. For this reason, we are being in constant search of new sensations, over and over we return to a desire to “change our environment”, whether it be a walk in the forest, a visit to a new restaurant or a journey to another country. The lack of the natural process dynamism results in loss of efficiency, chronic fatigue and stress. In biology such fundamental human need to feel connected with wild life is called “biophilia”.
Life in the wild is dynamic – everything grows, adapts, changes. A human, being a part of the nature, needs similar dynamics in surrounding spaces. As far as for the best part of our evolution we existed like hunters-foragers in the open air in close contact with living forms, the modern citizen’s way of life exhausts us physiologically and emotionally.
The permanent desire to “change environment” or to “reload” is a natural need. It can be solved by space, design of which is based not only on the designer’s insight, but on recent researches in biology, neurophysiology and neuroaesthetics.
First and foremost, it’s about balance. One should not give up on modernity for the sake of rustication. The biophilia design conciliates these ways of life. The similar feeling was well described by the singer Bjork, who told about her life in Reykjavik, where mountain and ocean landscapes peacefully coexist with the European cultural life.
The biophilia in design is not limited to the presence of plants, though they are also important. The main task is to create the space inviting to various conditions and feelings. Sequence of day and night, warmth and cold, physical exercise and relaxation, toughness and softness, lengthy concentration and evanescent distraction, seclusion and communication, unpredictability and tranquility – these all are the fundamentals of good balanced sensation and health, which the surrounding spaces should induce to.
Examples of biophilic solutions in our projects
Random changes on the fringes of our visual perception
Sunlight gets into space through special non-regular pattern, visually drawing attention to its random motion during the day. The restoring effect is caused by the flashy distraction to the changes, which helps eye muscles to restore after continuous work over something at a short distance.
All-round view and sense of haven
Acoustic movable partition between bedroom and living room allows creating one general space out of two separate ones. Various configurations of the partition reveal an all-round view, which unconsciously resembles savanna landscapes that we evolved in. According to research, this leads to an excessive sense of visual comfort and degrease of stress level, fretfulness and fatigue. 1
Diffused lighting and irregular biophilia forms
Diffused lighting on a black wall not only expands the room space, but creates a relaxing effect, required for a good sleep. Long stalactite-like lamps dilute the space with irregular vertical forms. In aggregate, it created a “spelaean comfort” in space, giving rise to tranquility and sense of security. 2
- This is confirmed by studies in cultural anthropology and evolutionary psychology (Heerwagen & Orians, 1993). The health benefits are supposed to be in lowering stress (Grahn & Stigsdotter, 2010); reducing the feeling of boredom, irritation, fatigue (Clearwater & Coss, 1991), as well as increasing the feeling of comfort (Herzog & Bryce, 2007).
- Diffused lighting with the correct wavelength has a positive effect on circadian rhythms (Figueiro, Brons, Plitnick et al., 2011; Beckett & Roden, 2009) and increases visual comfort (Elyezadi, 2012; Kim & Kim, 2007).