Yorkshire Post - Property
Bring biophilia into your home to increase wellbeing
I have recently returned from a trip to Australia and New Zealand and it led me to think about the impact of climate change and value of nature in the design of our homes.
With temperatures approaching 40 degrees in Australia, staying cool is something of a challenge without resorting to artificial means.
However, some of the older ranch style properties help overcome these issues by projecting verandas, which both offer useful covered outdoor space and also shading from direct sunlight to internal rooms.
As such they offer great living spaces to enjoy at all times of the
This connection with the natural environment was recognised in Edward Wilson’s book of 1984 called Biophilia, where he argued that humans are genetically predisposed to seek connections with nature.
It is recognised in research that a positive relationship with nature is a vital component of wellbeing. This is why ‘biophilic design’- an approach to interior and architectural design that incorporates elements of nature is becoming increasingly important in our world.
The late Dr Stephen Kellert noted: “The modern assumption that humans no longer need to affiliate with nature is revealed in the widespread practice of placing people in sensory deprived and artificial settings such as office buildings, hospitals, schools, and shopping centres with little, if any contact with natural forces and stimuli.”
It is well known that environmentally deprived environments foster fatigue, symptoms of disease and impaired performance. Kellert notes that “the very simple introduction of natural lighting, outside views and vegetation can result in enhanced health and productivity”.
Architecture is perhaps the field in which biophilic design has garnered the most interest. Apple Park in California by Sir Norman Foster is an exemplar of this practice.
The landscape and building form a seamless whole. The building is naturally ventilated, has the world’s largest panels of curved glass and contains 9,000 drought-resistant trees.
Foster notes “my passionately held belief about the importance of these qualities and an architecture that embodies them have subsequently been proven through research, by the Harvard School of Public Health”.
So how do we incorporate this in our own homes? Homebuilding and Renovating magazine recently noted ways we could engage with biophilic design, ranging from flooding homes with natural light, the use of sympathetic organic colours, the use of natural materials, such as timber, the installation of green roofs or living walls and maximising views of the outside.
In designing new homes and remodelling existing ones, making visual connection to the outside is vital to the enjoyment of a space.
We have seen a proliferation of large bi-fold doors becoming the norm for living kitchens, yet the flip side of this, to south-facing rooms, is overheating.
Perhaps external covered spaces adjoining such rooms is the answer to solar shading? Whatever happens, let’s embrace this philosophy of biophilia in our homes and design some of nature’s magic back into our life.