Office design

What is biophilic design?

Biophilia (meaning a love of nature) focuses on humans’ innate attraction to nature and natural processes. It suggests that we all have a genetic connection to the natural world built up through hundreds of thousands of years of living in agrarian settings.

It is a term popularized by American biologist Edward O. Wilson in the 1980’s, when he observed how the increasing rates of urbanisation were leading to a disconnection with the natural world. With high rates of migration to urban settings in the developed world and soaring rates in developing countries, Biophilia is of ever increasing importance to our health and wellbeing in the built environment.

Biophilic Design uses these ideas as principles (known as patterns) to create a human-centred approach that, when applied, improves many of the spaces that we live and work in today, with numerous benefits to our health and wellbeing.

Key constructs of biophilic design

Our approach is both neuroscientific, enhancing the quality of occupant experience for individuals, and socio psychological, connecting spaces, places and people.

Both approaches share three core characteristics:

  • Direct contact with nature - through elements such as water, trees, plants, light, and fresh air
  • Indirect contact with nature - evoking a sense of nature through materials, colours, textures, shapes and patterns
  • Human-spatial response - creating spaces that stimulate and energise, but also calm and restore

Research shows that in...

  • Office design: productivity can be increased by 8%, rates of well-being up by 13%, increases in creativity, with reduced absenteeism and presenteeism
  • Hospitality design: Guests willing to pay23% more for rooms with views of Biophilic elements
  • Education spaces: increased rates of learning 20-25%, improved test results, concentration levels and attendance, reduced impacts of ADHD
  • Healthcare spaces: post-operative recovery times decreased by 8.5%, reduced pain medication by 22%
  • Retail: the presence of vegetation & landscaping has been found to increase average rental rates on retail spaces with customers indicating they were willing to pay 8-12 % more for goods and services.
  • Homes: can become more calming & restorative,  with 7-8 % less crime attributed to areas with access to nature and can command an increase of 4-5% in property price.

Want to learn more about biophilic design? Listen to Oliver's interview with Dezeen

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flooring design

How do we implement biophilic design?

At Oliver Heath Design we take a quantitative and qualitative approach to define the brief and requirements. We work alongside the client plus financial, HR, and FM managers, and the spatial users themselves, to build a complete picture.

This leads us to better understand the spatial and human opportunities that exist and realise more focused results to the triple bottom line of people, planet and performance.

Our investigations would then lead to make improvements in areas such as:

  • optimization and organisation of spaces with a human focus
  • thermal comfort levels
  • air quality, toxin levels and ventilation
  • acoustic comfort
  • improved natural and artificial lighting
  • internal and external views onto nature
  • the use of natural materials, textures, patterns and colours
  • the incorporation of recuperative spaces
  • aesthetic environments with brand recognition
  • psychological and physiological effects of the space

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