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Bringing The Outside In With Biophilic Design

Bringing The Outside In With Biophilic Design

‘Biophilic Design.’ Not necessarily the catchiest title but the name of a design trend that has been around for some time which, if anything, has grown in relevance since the pandemic.

Whilst things are starting to return to normal from the perspective of relaxing restrictions, here in the UK at least, our focus on our homes and workspaces has not gone away. Indeed, the subject of flexible working remains topical as many businesses are planning to allow their staff to mix home working with returning to the office for some part of their working week.

So the importance of our homes and getting the environment right, whether you are working, relaxing or entertaining, continues to be a priority for most of us. This leads us back to the concept of biophilic design, and Karen Bell is Sales Director at David Salisbury explains this trending interior design area.

So what exactly is biophilic design?

Biophilic design is a term used in the building and architectural industries to increase the exposure of the occupants of a property, whether residential or commercial, to nature and the natural world in general.

The concept was first recognised in the USA in the 1980s, but the word biophilia originates from the Greek, ‘philia’ meaning ‘love of’.

It can apply both directly, via incorporating plants and greenery into an interior design scheme, or indirectly, via the use of, for example, natural building materials.

What are the benefits of biophilic design?

There are numerous benefits that are associated with biophilic design. A wide range of studies have concluded that being closer to nature is proven to reduce stress, increase concentration and productivity levels and provide a positive boost to our health, in terms of our mental and physical well-being.

With this broad array of advantages, it is unsurprising that biophilic design has perhaps been most utilised to date in commercial applications, particularly with regard to office or retail spaces in urban environments.

As is often the case, where an architectural concept underlines its value, however, it tends to get adapted for different applications, with the residential market shortly following suit.

What’s been driving recent demand?

A significant proportion of us has experienced home working, or indeed homeschooling, since the start of the pandemic. Setting up a home office, or at least a dedicated workspace has been crucial in ensuring productivity when working from home.

Another trend that has been prevalent over the past 12 months has been the increase in demand for glazed extensions, such as a conservatory or garden room. The very nature of these types of extension, with their generous proportions of glazing, lend themselves well to biophilic design.

With increasing pressure on our living spaces, caused by us working and spending more time at home, many discerning homeowners have decided to extend their home with a garden room – to provide multi-functional space, which can also be used as an office, whilst increasing the connection with their garden and the outdoors.

Examples of biophilic design in the home

Choice of building materials will obviously be influenced by biophilic design considerations. Timber is a sustainable and natural building material – so an oak framed extension, which leaves the timber exposed and a focal point of the design, is a good example. With oak being such a wonderfully characterful material, who wouldn’t to see this in its natural form?

Larger and more adventurous greenery and internal planting have become more prevalent in our homes over the past couple of years, driven in part by this design trend. Not only is this good for our mental health, as described above, it can also help improve air quality – another important influence on our physical health.

Indoor plants will need to be positioned in an appropriate location, with a regular flow of light an important consideration. Certainly, a conservatory or orangery (which was conceived for this very purpose) not only brings natural light into the home throughout the day, it also serves to protect any such plants from the significant changes in temperature which we often experience from day to night.

If you’re considering extending your home, it is important to think about whether you want to incorporate biophilic design features from the very start. With the wide-ranging benefits, it is likely this trend is only going to continue to grow.


Images: David Salisbury