I’m sure that many of you reading this will have encountered beautiful images of work and living spaces filled with plants and natural elements.
Perhaps you’ve thought about how much you would like to exist in such a space?
What if I told you that building the biophilic work or living space is akin to baking a cake or making a sandwich?
Over the next few weeks, we’ll delve into the biophilic kitchen and learn a bit about the ingredients we need to make the perfect biophilic cakes and sarnies for YOU.
This week, I thought that we could start with a bit of an overview of biophilia, followed by some jargon busting.



The Concept



In our modern built world, we have unfortunately lost our innate connection with our habitat. This disconnect has led to many an issue: poor health, reduced productivity, pollution, waste, and destruction.

The concept behind biophilic design is to bring nature and naturally inspired elements back into our living and working environments to create OUR optimum habitat. As humans, our lifestyles and technology have evolved faster than we can keep up. For example, we’re biologically engineered to be awake when it’s light, and asleep when it’s dark. But how many of us settle down as soon as the sun has set?

It would be unrealistic to expect humans to completely reset our way of life: we can’t go back to the dark ages. But we can put things in place to reconnect with the natural elements that we’re subconsciously desperately missing.



There’s a reason that social media is chock full of memes and #wednesdaywisdom posts that encourage us to look after ourselves.


Broadleaf Forest

The Point



Imagine receiving a small animal (maybe a frog, a lizard or a fish) as a pet. In order to keep them happy and alive, we need to provide them with a suitable home that is the right temperature and humidity; that has a supply of fresh water and nutritious food; that has the correct lighting; is free from pollution and toxins, and finally – safe from danger.

Our little animal friend needs all these things to not only survive, but to thrive. Anyone who is an animal lover will know just how attached and dedicated we can be to our furry, feathered, or scaly friends. I can tell you that our garden birds are the most spoiled little creatures – they have not one, but three feeding stations that offer a wide variety of different foods. Laura-Anne caters to these birds like they’re the prodigal son returning from exile. Why? Because it makes her happy.



But how often do we dedicate our time and resources to really looking after ourselves?



There’s a reason that self-care has become quite the buzz word. There’s a reason that social media is chock full of memes and #wednesdaywisdom posts that encourage us to look after ourselves.

When we really look at it, we are pretty much awful at taking care of ourselves. If we were pets, we’d be the poor class hamster that everyone forgot to feed over the summer.

The point of biophilic (nature inspired) design in work and living spaces is to help us to live the best life and produce the best work that we can, by creating the optimum habitat for us as just one of the species on our little marble of a home.


Photo by sergio souza on Unsplash



The Big Words



We all have our areas of speciality that carry jargon. There’s nothing worse than that conversation where you only understand every other word or phrase, so let’s see if we can bust 10 bits of jargon that you might hear or read about biophilic design.



1. Biophilia (Biophillic) – This comes from the Greek bios (life), and philia (an affectionate love). Biophillic design is therefore nature-loving/inspired design.



2. Biotope – From the Greek bios (life), and topos (place). An area of uniform environmental conditions providing a living place for a specific collection of plants and animals.



3. Aquascape – This is an aquarium (fish tank) normally planted with live aquatic plants – an underwater garden. Fish can and do live successfully in an aquascape, but they are not normally the focal feature. Some aquascapes are only hardscaped.



4. Hardscape – The skeleton / backbone of an aquascape, garden or nature inspired design. Hardscape would be the wood, branches, rock (normally non-living) features in a design.



5. Living Wall – A vertical garden, normally created indoors. These are live planted and not to be confused with a green wall.



6. Green Wall – A vertically designed nature scape that uses preserved or artificial plants, mimicking a living wall. Most moss walls that you see are preserved mosses and are ‘green walls’.



7. Epiphyte – A plant (normally tropical) that that grows (non-parasitically) on another plant or surface – not in the ground. Orchids, air plants and ferns are great examples of epiphytes.



8. Xerophyte – Plants (and animals) that can survive in extreme environments (usually deserts) with high temperatures and low water. Cacti are a great example of xerophytes.



9. Circadian Rhythm – A natural, internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and repeats roughly every 24 hours.



10. Vivarium – derived from the Latin vivere, meaning ‘to live’. Therefore, technically absolutely any enclosure for an animal or plant, designed to provide a stable environment, is a vivarium. To specify more accurately there are some names that you might hear from time to time:



11. Aquarium – 100% aquatic (A fish tank)



12. Riparium – This is 90% water and simulated the edge of a pond, riverbank, shoreline or coastline. Normally low level with a small section of dry land. Crabs or turtles are often kept in a riparium.



13. Paludarium – Part water, part land (60% land) – This is normally a taller setup that has a water section at the bottom and a large land section. Often frogs or semi-aquatic animals are housed normally in a paludarium.



14. Terrarium – This is a land-based habitat, sometimes small bodies of water (waterfall, pond) are included in a terrarium but this is to supplement the design more than being a critical feature. Plants and terrestrial features are the name of the game here. Insects, land-based reptiles and arboreal creatures are kept in these. A terrarium can be tropical or arid in design.



15. Formicarium – This is a fancy name for an ant farm.



16. Mossarium – a terrarium specifically for mosses.


Now that we have a few new words for our dictionaries, I can’t wait to start exploring my 5 key elements of biophilic design with you!


Have you got any biophilic / nature jargon that you don’t understand? How do you use the natural world to enhance your health and wellbeing? Do you want to make changes to improve your workplace and living space? Please leave a comment – I’m very happy to help.