Neurodiversity and Biophilia in architecture

“Thinking about the human experience in the workspaces will be a fundamental change in the next decades… Our buildings should be smart and healthy, responding to the requirements of their employees for welfare⁠.”

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There’s a very interesting development in architecture – called ‘biophilia’:

The guiding principle is quite simple: connect people with nature to improve their well-being and quality of life. How could architecture do that? By seeking alternatives to integrate nature – either through natural elements or techniques – into its designs.

Biophilia in architecture – Vision Group for Sidmouth

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Allied to this is an understanding of the healing powers of nature:

In The Well-Gardened Mind: Rediscovering Nature in the Modern World,  psychiatrist and keen gardener Sue Stuart-Smith blends neuroscience, psychoanalysis and real-life stories. She reveals the remarkable effects that gardens and the great outdoors can have on us.”

The balm of gardening and being in nature – Vision Group for Sidmouth

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But it’s been the impact of the pandemic on our spaces which has really spurred on an interest in imaginative design:

In 1933, the Finnish architect and designer Hugo Alvar Henrik Aalto completed the Paimio Sanatorium, a facility for the treatment of tuberculosis in southwest Finland. The building is rigidly geometric, with long walls of expansive windows wrapping its façade, light-colored rooms, and a wide roof terrace with railings like the ones on cruise ships.

How the Coronavirus is reshaping how we design our spaces – Vision Group for Sidmouth

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Especially as so many have been and will continue to WFH:

The working from home revolution – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Redesigning where and how we work – Vision Group for Sidmouth

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Fundamentally, though, it’s about our long-term well-being:

Research has shown that spending more time in nature has a beneficial impact on our mental health. In fact, research funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has found that living with a regular view of a green space provides health benefits worth £300 per person per year.

Plants, mental health and wellbeing – Vision Group for Sidmouth

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These ideas are brought together in a thoughtful piece in the Arch Daily:

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Neurodiversity and Biophilia: the Future of the Workspace in the Post-Pandemic Era

Thinking about the human experience in the workspaces will be a fundamental change in the next decades. The key subjects will be Artificial Intelligence, Automation, Demography, and Sustainability. Our buildings should be smart and healthy, responding to the requirements of their employees for welfare⁠…

Neurodiversity: 

The term refers to the natural variations in the human brain of each individual in relation to sociability, learning, attention, mood, and other cognitive functions… 

Analyzes show that people’s reactions are multiple. Some want to continue working from home, recognizing the ability to concentrate without distractions, the freedom to have their own schedules, the possibility to avoid long commutes… Others have managed to adapt working from home but miss the meeting, the exchange, and a more dynamic and collaborative process.

Biophilia to avoid the “sick building syndrome”:

Most people spend 90% of their time indoors and the exposure to which they are exposed is very little analyzed. A study published last year in Nature shows how air pollution is linked to a notable decline in cognitive performance, in addition to contributing to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. While outdoor air pollution is always in the headlines, indoor air pollution is four or fifteen times greater, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. It is the central contribution of the so-called “sick building syndrome”.

Investing in biophilia makes a lot of sense in the post-pandemic, thinking about the symbiosis between nature and the built space and the development of projects that insert buildings and users in the biological world… Scientific analyzes raise clear data about the benefits in the physical and psychological health of being in spaces designed with vegetation: research from the University of Exeter (EU) shows that employees in contact with nature are 15% more productive and motivated than those who work in a sterile environment.

Neurodiversity and Biophilia: the Future of the Workspace in the Post-Pandemic Era | ArchDaily

   
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