Biophilic design is a nature-focused architectural style that emphasizes the organic qualities of a building. It mimics the shapes, textures, and colors of real environments to make the occupants feel more connected to their natural surroundings.
A greater global emphasis on sustainability has caused biophilic design to gain mainstream attention, but the construction industry also has a part to play. Here’s how construction professionals can help take biophilic design’s popularity to the next level.
High-Profile Biophilic Projects
The simplest way the construction industry can popularize biophilic design is by exposing it to more people. Most of the population lives in big cities, so these locations are the most practical places to start. Greenifying our urban centers will improve the quality of life and give city dwellers a much-needed dose of nature.
High-profile projects in major metropolitan areas can also be the catalysts for city-wide biophilic additions. Many major cities already have successful examples:
- Barbican Centre, London, United Kingdom
- Gardenhouse, Beverly Hills, United States
- One Central Park, Sydney, Australia
- Bosco Verticale, Milan, Italy
- The Jewel, Singapore, Singapore
- Garden & House, Tokyo, Japan
These buildings are culturally significant locations in their respective countries. Locals and tourists alike come to witness the creativity, and the inspiration they provide cannot be measured in numbers. Construction professionals can learn from these examples and bring their own breathtaking biophilic designs to other parts of the world.
High-profile biophilic projects are also great opportunities to introduce emerging eco-friendly features such as cool roofs and energy-efficient windows. The average person doesn’t know about these developments, so contractors must work harder to publicize them. Bring them to commercial spaces, learning centers, and neighborhoods where people can see them every day.
Construction leaders can also increase biophilic design’s relevancy by using more local resources. Buying materials from local suppliers promotes the eco-friendly aspect of biophilic design. Smaller vendors are more likely to have authentic natural materials than big-name suppliers.
More importantly, buying from local businesses grows the surrounding market for biophilic features. With many contractors using natural materials in the same general area, the community’s residents will notice the trend and hop on the bandwagon. If this scenario happens around the world, people will catch on to biophilic design at a rapid pace.
Labor and material shortages have plagued the construction industry for the last several years. A major industry overhaul is required to address these shortages. Now is an opportune time to increase the influence of biophilic design.
Eco-Friendly Tools and Strategies
Biophilic design isn’t only about the buildings. The tools and strategies you use are also irremovable parts of any eco-friendly construction project. Using these new techniques and technologies will help bring biophilic design to the mainstream:
- Modular building: Building houses in modules in a warehouse and shipping them to the site is cheaper, easier, and better for the environment than traditional construction. More importantly, it allows contractors to implement more eco-friendly customizations.
- Green equipment: Electric vehicles and equipment with alternative fuel sources have lower emissions than conventional equipment and create quieter work sites.
- Renewable energy: Structures that rely on solar, wind, and geothermal energy are more nature-focused than structures that rely on fossil fuels.
- Waste reduction: Modern construction methods waste tons of precious resources, some of which are toxic to humans and the environment. Reducing waste is non-negotiable for biophilic design.
In order for biophilic design to become the prevailing architectural style, construction professionals must rethink their entire business models. Their home designs, materials, tools, and building strategies must all become more nature-centric.
Important Biophilic Design Elements
The most relevant biophilic design elements encompass four of the five major senses: Sight, smell, hearing, and touch. A biophilic building must check all four boxes. If one of the senses is missing, the connection to nature isn’t as apparent.
These natural design elements create the strongest sensory reactions:
- Building materials: Stone, wood, and brick dominate sustainable designs. You won’t find much drywall and other artificial materials in a biophilic building.
- Lighting: A heavy dose of natural light is a huge part of biophilic design. Skylights and window walls are common fixtures.
- Color: Green, gray, brown, and other earthy tones are the primary biophilic colors because they appear most often in nature. Bright colors are less common and mainly used as secondary colors with decorations.
- Shapes: Contrary to the blocky buildings of modern architecture, biophilic buildings consist of round, free-flowing shapes that look more natural and visually appealing. These shapes are heavily utilized in the building’s furniture.
- Ambiance: Fountains, bird gardens, and other soundscapes are common outdoor additions to biophilic spaces. They add another layer of natural beauty to the building that is sorely lacking in most places.
- Plants: Plants are the most important biophilic accessories. They bring more life and color into the space and improve the building’s air quality.
These foundational elements should be the main points of emphasis for contractors moving forward. Contemporary home designs have bits and pieces of these elements, but we must bring them all together to achieve true biomimicry.
A New Era of Construction
The world is changing rapidly. As humanity becomes more eco-conscious and our climates become more volatile, the need for sustainable construction becomes direr. Industry professionals must take swift action to expand biophilic design and start a new era of construction.