Biophilic design is a movement in the design community based around a theory popularised by Edward O. Wilson in his book "Biophilia" released in 1984. Wilson argues that humans have an "urge to affiliate with other forms of life", and labels this desire biophilia.
Double Bay Library | Architect: BVN Architecture | Photographer: John Gollings
The basic premise of biophilic design is that incorporating aspects of nature such as plants and natural light into architectural design has a positive effect on the well-being of the inhabitants of the building. By satisfying this innate desire to interact with the natural world, it is theorised that people who regularly interact with the structure such as employees in an office building will lead happier lives. With the United Nations recently predicting that 60% of the world's population will live in urban areas by 2030, biophilic design along with environmentally friendly building solutions are at the forefront of the architectural community's collective mind.
The key to incorporating biophilic design principles into a project is to integrate nature seamlessly into the structure. In areas such as workplace design, integrating plants and using natural materials like timber can have a drastic impact on the productivity of workers. According to 'The Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace', part of an amazing series of reports by Interface named 'The Human Spaces Reports', 47% of workplaces have no natural light, and 58% are devoid of plants. With around 27% of workers worldwide citing environment as a critical factor when looking for a new job, Architects are taking into account the role of biophilic design in creating desirable workplaces for the growing urban population.
Fitness First | Architect: Baldasso Cortese | Photographer: Yvonne Qumi
Woodform Architectural offers a range of options which allow designers to incorporate biophilic design principles into their projects. The use of natural materials, particularly as internal linings is one of the simplest and most effective ways to increase the biophilic value of a project. Timber battens are one of the options available in Woodform's Concept Click System and provide a strong natural aesthetic to a space. With seven timber species available ranging from the dark tones of Burnt Ash to uniquely Australian Spotted Gum, Concept Click offers a suitable option no matter the colour palette. For projects where traditional timber battens may not be appropriate due to fire ratings or weight restrictions, Timber veneered aluminium is also available. Veneered Aluminium consists of thinly cut timber is wrapped around aluminium battens, giving the look and feel of timber while being lighter and achieving a group one fire rating.
East Sydney Early Learning Centre | Architect: Andrew Burges | Photographer: Peter Bennetts
Concept Click also allows penetrations to be integrated into the system seamlessly, providing options for how natural elements can be weaved into a project. In a recent project East Sydney Early Learning Centre, designed by Andrew Burges Architects, a structure was built around the existing trees to keep the natural aesthetic they provide.
Natural light is another key to biophilic design. Using natural light to its full effect in architectural design is a challenge in itself, with many techniques available. A particularly impressive project which uses Woodform's Concept click system with Spotted Gum timber battens inside huge windows is the Novartis office designed by HDR Rice Daubney. Beautifully curved batten screens create a beautiful natural feel through the contrast of natural light and shadows along the wall.
1. Novartis | Architect: HDR Rice Daubney | Photographer: Tyrone Brannigan
2. Australian Embassy Bangkok 3. Double Bay Library | Architect: BVN Architecture | Photographer: John Gollings