We all have our own ideas about green living. We look with envy at magazine articles and online images of homes and workplaces with plants, water features and other bits of nature inside. This manner of bringing nature indoors is called biophilia.
Where did this type of green living originate?
It all started when Judith Heerwagen, a psychologist, worked with officials on redesigning primate enclosures at the Seattle Zoo. She was no more than a graduate student at the time, but her idea to mimic natural landscapes for the animals was a winner. Large primates in minimal enclosures acted antisocially, fought and they were not reproducing.
She combined her ecology and zoology background with extensive research on the natural environments of the animals. The design of the new cages mimicked the ecology of their natural habitat, and primates were no longer separated. The new enclosures accommodated various species. As expected, the animals thrived in their more natural surroundings.
Home and office designers embraced green living
It was not long before architects and designers of homes and office spaces followed Judith Heerwagen’s lead. They began carefully planning living and working spaces enhanced by biophilic designs. This satisfies people’s need for natural daylight, sun, natural patterns, flowers and plants.
Companies implementing green living habitats
Although it is not yet widespread, large corporations like Amazon and Microsoft have implemented biophilic principals. They maintain that the move toward green living has improved productivity. Recognizing that the benefits biophilia brought to zoo animals can do the same for people is slow.
The scientific view of green living
A Korean study involved a group of young men who were given a choice to perform a computer-related task or transfer a plant from one pot to another. Their mental states were determined after the activities, and it was clear that those who worked with plants were more relaxed and experienced a blood pressure drop.
One suggestion of researchers is clear. They say workers who take short walks outside regain focus. However, neuroscientists say those who cannot go for a walk outdoors can get similar results of renewed concentration from at least 40 seconds, gazing at a painting or photos of natural scenes.
In another interesting research result, the National Institutes of Health found that hospital patients in rooms with garden views needed less recuperation time and less medication for pain than those whose between four walls.
Where to start creating a biophilic home interior
A building researcher says the place to start is the existing views, and then move on to floor, wall and window coverings. Furthermore, when refurbishing, choose nature-based patterns and find inspiration in the sun, flames and grass waves in a field.
Creating a biophilic refuge
Starting in one area can later develop into more expansive changes. The building research consultant says a refuge is an area where you have an overhead canopy and a protected back. It could be a seat under an umbrella on the patio or a canopied bed. You could place a high-backed chair tucked away near a fireplace or window. The purpose of a refuge is for recharging your batteries, withdrawn from other activities.
When it comes to plants, a collection of leafy greens that include plants like Kimberly Queen fern and philodendrons will do the trick. Furthermore, the consultant says grouping the plants to create a small habitat has a calming effect.
Most importantly, the view. Depending on your refuge area, creating a view may be as easy as opening the curtains. However, you may have to rearrange the furniture to give you the best possible view. The best possible scenario is a view that extends 100 feet or more. If you spend a lot of time working on a computer, your eyes will love you if your view lets your eye muscles relax.
Biophilic design research is relatively new, but if you jump on that wagon now, you will be amazed at the restorative properties of bringing even just a bit of nature inside.