Biophilic Architecture

posted in Architecture

Biophilic Architecture


Today, more organizations, like Google and the Federal Government, are looking at Biophilic Design as a way to promote tenant and workforce happiness and increased productivity. Incorporating elements of nature are gaining momentum and are supported by data, such as the “14 Patterns of Biophilic Design1“. Once supported by intuition, Biophilia is now proven to have demonstrable restorative effects on end users.

A great example of Biophilic Design is the GSA’s modernization of the Federal Central South complex near Seattle–originally constructed as a warehouse. Significant quantities of hardscape are transformed into green space throughout the property, partition placements and spatial organization were carefully designed to provide optimal daylighting.

Looking for inspiration? Jean Nouvel’s One Central Park building in Sydney, Australia, uses an extensive use of green wall to soften the building massing. An impressive heliostat provides ample sunlight to both north facing units and a large elevated courtyard that would otherwise have been in shade through the majority of the day. The heliostat array’s structure also provides a large elevated park terrace offering spectacular city views. In Milan, the Bosco Verticale—a pair of vertical tree park residential towers—was recently completed, providing an abundance of planted, tree covered balconies with each unit.

How does this contribute value to a project? At Google, it is reported that employees who sit closer to windows find their environment enhances productivity and is more conducive to creativity. In the medical industry, studies show hospital rooms with tree views shorten patient convalescence. In a study conducted by Terrapin Bright Green, call center productivity increased by 6% after spending $1,000 per workstation to provide all employees a view to the outside.

Integrating Biophilic Design in your own project comes down to awareness. Incorporating variations in thermal and air flow, the presence of water, abundance of light, and connections to other natural systems will add tremendous positive impacts to the built environment.

1. Source: Terrapin Bright Green

This post on Biophilia is also available at WDG Architecture’s Perspectives blog here

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