Science shows us that we thrive when we see and experience nature. Biophilic design brings the elements of nature to our interiors.
The combined amount of time we spend inside buildings and vehicles is about 90 percent. It’s causing a big disconnect with the outside natural world, and there’s growing evidence that we’re less happy and healthy as a result.
Children with ADHD get a boost in their concentration after a walk in the park. Spending time in a forest has been shown to boost immune function and lower stress-related blood pressure levels. Just seeing the outdoors has been shown to be a benefit to surgical patients who are released sooner when their hospital room has a view of nature. There’s a way for hotels to take advantage of this health/happiness connection with biophilic design.
Incorporating nature into our buildings
That’s pretty much the distilled definition of biophilic design. While it makes its way into a full-on architectural movement, there are amazing examples of it today.
- The Westin Buffalo has incorporated biophilic design to promote the guests’ deeper connection with nature.
- The Hudson Hotel lobby has been transformed into a beautiful display by creating a breath-taking plant canopy.
- The Denton Embassy Suites in Texas has added a green living wall – made of 1,752 plants – into their lobby design, making a stunning showpiece that is sure to attract guests’ attention.
- Emiliano RJ Hotel in Rio de Janeiro has taken a unique approach to this new design trend. The hotel has used the ’60s inspired perforated façade that – even when the panels are closed – allows natural light to enter the rooms, giving guests a more connected feeling to the city around them.
Why not just go outside?
That’s the logical question which gets thrown out when people begin to explore biophilic design. Or, why not just bring more of nature inside?
Neither works all that well. We humans don’t have the time to be out in nature, and it’s retreating from us as urbanization spreads. Nature doesn’t fare all that well when captured and brought inside – unless you have a large budget for its care and maintenance.
What we need instead is to learn from what makes us love being outside, and find ways to incorporate it into hotel building design. It goes beyond the visual. Biophilic design is also experiential. Breezes created by ventilation systems, for example, can help to keep us alert. The sound of a water feature can help to lower stress and blood pressure. A meandering pathway rather than a straight hallway can encourage curiosity and recharge productivity.
Designing for physical and psychological health
Science shows us that we thrive when we see and experience nature. Biophilic design brings the elements of nature to our interiors. A growing portfolio of biophilic designs seeks to facilitate our health and happiness by enhancing specific physiological and psychological outcomes.
An environmental consulting firm based in New York City has gathered what science has documented and come up with what it calls “14 Patterns of Biophilic Design.” Each approach helps with one or more conditions such as stress, mood, and cognitive performance.
- These patterns show, for example, that a visual connection with nature can lower blood pressure and heart rate, improve mental engagement and attentiveness, and positively impact attitude and overall happiness.
- Adding variability to airflow and temperature positively impacts comfort, well-being, and productivity, as well as increases our attention and improves our perception of temporal and spatial pleasure.
- The presence of water reduces stress and our blood pressure and increases our feelings of tranquility. It’s also responsible for improved concentration, enhanced perception, and overall positive emotional responses.
Biophilic design seeks to find the architectural analogs to these natural sensations and incorporate them into the design. Not every hotel room can have access to water features and plants, but sunlight approximated by full-spectrum color temperature-adjusting task lights can duplicate the stress-reducing and mood-elevating result.
It’s more than sight – even though most of our brain processing is based on this sense. Biophilic design calls upon textures, sensations, and sometimes even sounds or smells – all inspired by nature. Biophilic means having a love of nature, and it’s something we humans have at a genetic level. We are attracted to nature and natural processes. Biophilic design reconnects us with what we thought we had to leave behind outside.
Since 1992, Beachwood Custom has been immersed in the twists and turns of the hospitality industry. Our wide range of experience in design, purchasing, manufacturing, and installation makes us the perfect match for helping hotel customers open a hotel that fits their vision. To learn more about how we can help you open your next hotel, contact us today.