If your home has been looking a lot greener these days with plenty of newly acquired plants despite your lack of green fingers, you’re not alone. Join hands with others who’ve somehow felt the need to connect with nature, whether at home or in parks that they’re visiting a lot more often now – something they probably didn’t do much of before. Thank Covid-19 for your recent re-acquaintance with nature. With most cities having been in some form of lockdown for most of this year, and citizens being told to stay home for long hours, people appreciate fresh air and open green spaces a lot more now, after taking them for granted.
CIAP Architects’ senior director Theodore Chan says that working from home has made people think about the “liveability” of spaces. “They begin to see the importance of having a conducive working environment, especially for those who work long hours at home. Proximity to daylight, plants, and water are important for wellbeing. Mr Chan was conferred a Green Architect title in 2019 by the Singapore Green Building Council and the Building and Construction Authority.
Yvonne Tan, director of DP Green, the landscape and arboricultural consultancy arm of DP Architects, believes that this innate need for a more human connection to nature points to a growing demand for biophilic design. Over the years, she has seen clients showing a greater understanding about how nature and well-designed outdoor and indoor environments can greatly elevate their projects’ branding or positioning in the market.
Besides inegrating natural elements into buildings, biophilic design incorporates sustainability in different ways such as harnessing ecosystems to help improve air quality; providing natural temperature control forms; channeling natural lighting and creating spaces for growing food and supporting urban ecology.
Architect Richard Hassell, co-founder of WOHA Architects, sees many benefits to biophilic design, but “the most important one is the human reaction to nature and how it supports well-being emotionally and physically”. He adds: “Biophilia basically means love of life and there are different ways to get a biophilic response. It could be through real nature and plants, but even fake plants can effect a biophilic reaction.”
The firm’s upcoming projects which showcase biophilic design include Pan Pacific Orchard, which will have massive landscaped skyterraces integrated into the building; the Singapore Pavilion for the World Expo in Dubai, which will be a tropical oasis in the desert that is designed to be net-zero in energy and water over its operation period; and Brac University in Dhaka, where the campus feels like it is floating on a lake, with lots of greenery, natural light, and comfortable naturally-ventilated spaces.
“I think the pandemic has shown how valuable a biophilic environment is, having one in your home when you’re on lockdown helps with your general well-being, your psychological and physical health,” says Mr. Hassell. “So
while it’s always been very important in WOHA’s work, biophilic design has probably moved up on people’s priority lists. Clients who approach WOHA with projects expect biophilic aspects to our work. That was true before the pandemic and is still the case now.”
Biophilic design isn’t limited to designing homes, it can be found in offices and commercial spaces too, as these projects show.
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