Benefits of Including Nature
Before the industrial revolution, people’s lives and homes were closely connected to nature and their natural surroundings. But, in the last 250 years, we’ve experienced a great shift from rural to urban living and we’ve alienated ourselves from nature. However, evolution works very slowly and our development, performance and well-being still greatly depend on the natural world and its properties. Luckily, more and more people are starting to understand this fact and are returning to nature through “biophilic” design. Biophilia (the love of life and living things) in architecture and design strives to connect our buildings and building ways with nature, natural materials and forms. This might look aesthetically appealing, but does it really have any benefits to human well-being? Let’s find out.
Learning and testing
Some research states that the visual environment is very important for learning and concentration. For instance, when students were provided with a pleasant view from the classroom that included greenery, a mountain and a river in the distance, they achieved better learning results. Also, workers in a company who had ample window view with lots of greenery achieved better work and test performance. They managed to process their work 6 to 12% faster than their colleagues who had no view. Office workers also performed up to 25% better on tests of memory and mental functions when they were provided with a view. So, including beautiful nature views in school and office design, as well as indoor plants for cleaner air, can improve learning and performance on tests.
A number of people tried to find the connection between creativity and exposure to nature in early life. For instance, writer Edith Cobb studied around 300 autobiographies of people who are famous creative thinkers. She concentrated on their childhood memories and experiences, and she concluded that there is, in fact, a connection between creativity and nature. Nearly all of the creative people had an indication that their creativity stemmed from early nature experiences.
Probably the biggest benefit of biophilia in interior and exterior design is related to health and healing. Historically, people knew for centuries that the exposure to nature had positive results on human health. However, today, we have real evidence that nature really makes us heal faster. In 1984, there was a study that researched patients recovering from gallbladder surgery. The results showed that those patients who had window views of greenery recovered faster and experienced less pain. On the other hand, those with only a brick wall for a view required more pain medication and took longer to recover. Nature provides a distraction from pain and it lowers stress hormone levels. When we combine these two benefits, the increase in well-being and recovery is imminent. So, there’s clearly a need for providing hospital grounds with more greenery. Even if the building is placed in the middle of the city, this can be achieved by installing a beautiful vertical garden. They can be mounted on almost any exterior wall or building facade to provide intricate green views for patients and healthcare workers.
There’s also a study that examined 7,600 employees from 16 countries. What researchers found is that people who work in a space that has some natural features or a nature window view report up to 15% of higher levels of general well-being. They also felt 6% more productive and 15% more creative than their counterparts who worked without nature. And still, only a small number of corporations and office spaces choose to include natural elements into their office design.
Love of nature
One of the most neglected benefits of nature exposure is the interest, appreciation and love towards nature. By spending time surrounded by nature, we start to realize its beauty and we get motivated to protect and preserve it. Green building and biophilia in design can potentially inspire people, especially children and young adults, to be kind and nurturing to nature.
Even though it’s trendy, let’s hope that biophilia and the eco-friendly building aren’t just passing trends. Hopefully, they will become a new norm in architecture and design amongst the future generations of