What is biophilic design?
Biophilic design is a concept used within the building industry to increase occupant connectivity to the natural environment through the use of direct nature, indirect nature, and space and place conditions. Wikipedia
The article “Biophilic design: Why nature could be a good investment” states that some companies see a direct return on investment from biophilic design in the work place. In other words, companies are seeing measured value back as as a result of incorporating nature into the work place environment. Presumably, for companies, this means more profit in the long run. Great news.
Biophilic design will be a new concept to many companies which is sadly true but there is a certain amount of irony in this given that our connection to nature is certainly nothing new.
Key findings for companies
The 2015 report ‘The Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace‘ is well worth a read if you want to find out more. Here are the key findings:
- Biophilic design in the workplace makes employees 15% more creative, 6% more productive and reports 15% higher wellbeing in comparison to groups with no greenery or natural environments.
- 1/3 of respondents would be affected by work the place when choosing a company.
- Symbolic connections (water features, use of wood, natural fabrics etc) provide positive outcomes. Things like getting outside, natural light, pets visit work, natural views and people eating together all help as well.
Thoughts on biophilic design in schools
- Firstly, part of me thinks that a lot of schools might be well ahead of offices in this. How many offices have a Learning Outside the Office Badge!?
- Many of the items listed are the simple things that are free and easy – but means that are easy to forget. Is your school doing them?
- Full biophilic design must be worth considering for new buildings for schools. Some schools already have them – some tips here from Oliver Heath (Biophilic design specialists)
- The report provides some evidence that biophilic design is being used by companies to help recruit and retain staff. Something that would be very valuable for schools.
- The most interesting finding I think is that ‘colleagues create better relationships‘ in offices that adopted biophilic design. For school this could mean better behaviour, classroom attention, better social interactions with other a teachers. Measuring the impacts of better relationship is pretty tough but the potential benefits across education are huge.
- Schools adopting biophilic design for the benefit of pupils is one (wonderful) thing. Teaching them the benefits of the natural world so they demand it in the workplace when they get there is another (even more wonderful) thing.
Good to see the sports centre in Morzine where we take groups swimming adopting biophilic design with a grass roof.