Think about that elevated sense of happiness you experience when walking around in a park as opposed to when you are in your harshly lit office space. Nature enables all of our senses to come alive and our body is much less strained and relaxed. There is a theory that by incorporating elements of nature into our work and home environment that it will reduce stress, enhance creativity and improve well-being. This is called “Biophilic Design”. Terrapin Bright Green, a company who works on bringing ecological design into the workplace, has developed a number of areas of biophilic design that can be used to improve the spaces in which we spend the majority of our time. There are 14 patterns in total, but here are a couple of simple ones to implement into your space.
Visual connection to nature
There is a reason why basements are perceived as “dark, dingy, and scary”. Who knows who or what is living in the shadows down there! If given a choice, the preference is to have a desk or office near a window or to sit in the window seat on a plane. People like to be able to look outside and see the sky, trees, and waterways while they work. Being able to see a window while working is an essential biophilic design element.
Non-visual connection to nature
Are you confined to a windowless office or cubicle? Don’t worry, there are other ways to bring nature into the office. People respond very positively to shapes that exist in the natural environment like the honeycomb (hexagon) or objects that mimic the Fibonacci ratio. Textures that link back to nature like wood, grass or stone are also great.
Reduce the Stuffiness!
There is a sense of calm and joy when you are outside on a beautiful day in the middle of a park. Small cubicles with high walls can make you feel like a rat in a cage. Bring down the walls and think wide open spaces! Having windows that can open to let in some breeze can drastically improve people’s moods on a warm day.
Presence of water
Including the presence of water into a space enhances the engagement of the area as it uses multiple senses. The sound of running water can feel calming and the touch can make you feel refreshed and awake. For your home, the integration of a small water sculpture into a room can reduce stress.
Reduce Harsh lighting
Strong UV lighting may be in place to keep people alert and awake, but it actually has the opposite effect. Between the harsh lights and the glare of computer screens (or a TV at home), your eyes can feel strained and tired. To reduce this effect, try to increase natural light. Skylights and windows can bring in bright sunshine and is not as harsh on the eyes.
To see a full list of the patterns of biophilic design, visit the Terrapin Bright Green website