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Benefits of Biophilic Design

Biophilic design increases occupants’ connection to the natural environment.  Our design philosophy goes beyond mere aesthetics and aims to foster a deep connection between end users  and the natural world.

We incorporate natural building materials, natural light, vegetation and a connection to the outdoors in all our Architectural and Interior Design.  

From miniature gardens and hanging terrariums to ambitious healing gardens, regardless of the size, the outsized impact on our mental and physical health is dramatic.  

Allow me to share with you examples from our body of work illustrates this point and has brought an enhanced “quality of life” to our clients.

…the strategic utilization of natural light within buildings – I call it the halo effect.

Natural Light: Enhancing Mood and Energy

One of the fundamental principles of biophilic design is the strategic utilization of natural light within buildings – I call it the halo effect.

This approach not only reduces reliance on artificial lighting but also has significant implications for human health and well-being. Exposure to natural light has been linked to numerous benefits, including:

  • Mood Enhancement: Sunlight triggers the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with mood regulation. Increased exposure to natural light can alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety.

  • Energy Boost: Daylight exposure helps regulate circadian rhythms, leading to a better nights sleep thereby increasing energy levels during the day.

Case Study: The Well Living Lab conducted a study on the impact of natural light on office workers’ health and productivity.

The research found that employees working in spaces with abundant natural light reported higher levels of well-being + productivity compared to those in artificially lit environments.  [Source: The Well Living Lab]

Orient-Retreat-Entry-GateOrient Retreat flagship Spa – Photo courtesy RDH Architects

Vegetation: Improving Air Quality and Aesthetics

Integrating vegetation within the built environment is another key aspect of biophilic design.

Plants not only add visual appeal to a space but also contribute to improved air quality and overall well-being. Some benefits of integrating vegetation into design include:

  • Air Purification: Plants act as natural air filters, removing harmful pollutants and toxins from indoor environments. This leads to cleaner air and reduced instances of respiratory ailments.

  • Visual Connection to Nature: The presence of greenery indoors creates a visual connection to nature, which has been shown to reduce stress and promote relaxation.

  • A Peaceful Calm in the City: Indoor plants add an intrinsic calming effect to counter the hustle and bustle of the city, providing a welcome respite. 

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Harlem Hyatt House Hotel: Renderings courtesy RDH Architects

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Harlem Hyatt House Hotel: Renderings courtesy RDH Architects

Case Study: Our design for a new Hyatt hotel in Harlem (HHH).

Harlem has the lowest greenspace per capita of all the 5-boroughs, so we purposely focused on creating a pitched triangular green space that connects an elevated walkway to the hotel plaza. 

We continued this experience with a “green” handshake as you pull the entry doors leading into a 3-story lobby atrium. 

The atrium features lush hanging English ivy that cascades down from an upper story planter that enhances aesthetic appeal while improving the overall indoor air quality, further increasing guest satisfaction.

Natural Materials: Establishing a Connection to Nature

The use of natural regionally sourced materials such as wood, stone, and plants that are a hallmark of our biophilic design.

These materials not only evoke the textures and colors of the natural world but also offer numerous benefits in terms of sustainability.

Mohonk-Material-Board
Mohonk Mountain House: Materials board courtesy RDH Architects

…where light streams thru the clerestory producing an other-worldly welcome.

Key advantages of incorporating natural materials include:

  • Biophilic Aesthetics: Natural materials create a sense of warmth and authenticity, enhancing the overall ambiance of a space.
  • Environmental Sustainability: Compared to synthetic materials, natural materials have a lower environmental impact and can be sourced responsibly, contributing to sustainable building practices.

Case Studies: The Mohonk Mountain House design for the Spa in the Adirondak’s, and our Spa at Amelia Island, near Jacksonville, FL, is often cited as a prime examples of sustainable architecture that prioritizes the use of natural materials.

The building’s interior timber structure creates a warm and welcoming environment for “wellness seekers”, it celebrates natural light within it’s 2-story timber framed space where light streams thru the clerestory producing an other-worldly welcome.

Amelia-Island-LobbyAmelia Island Spa Entry / Lobby – Photo courtesy RDH Architects

Water Features: Promoting Calmness and Well-Being

Water elements such as fountains, ponds, reflective pools and waterfalls are frequently incorporated into our guest processions, to evoke a sense of tranquility and a connection/recall of nature.

The presence of water has been shown to have numerous positive effects on human health and well-being, including:

  • Stress Reduction: The sound of flowing water has a calming effect on the nervous system, reducing stress and promoting relaxation.

  • Improved Air Quality: Water features help humidify indoor environments, which can alleviate respiratory issues and enhance overall air quality.

Vdara-LobbyVdara Las Vegas Spa Entry / Lobby – Photo courtesy RDH Architects

Case Study: Our Vdara Hotel & Spa with its 2-story water curtain in Las Vegas, features a waterfall behind the front reception desk that beacons guests to climb the stairs as part of the entry sequence.

This water element, serves as a focal point the design creating a serene environment with the gentle sound of trickling water that also provides visual delight.

Views of Nature: Connecting Indoors to Outdoors

Designing buildings with ample views of nature is a core principle of our biophilic design.

Whether through large windows, balconies, outdoor terraces or interior garden spaces we provide occupants with a visual connection to nature offering numerous benefits, including:

  • Biophilic Connection: Views of nature help occupants feel more connected to the outdoors, even when indoors, which can effect our mood and ones health.

  • Stress Reduction: Studies have shown that exposure to the natural environment can reduce stress levels and improve overall mental acuity.

Mohonk-Lakeview-Summer-HouseMohonk Mountain House Rustic Massage Pavilion – RDH Architects

Mohonk Mountain House, nestled amidst the scenic Shawangunk Mountains of New York, epitomizes the harmonious relationship of “architecture within nature”.

This historic resort, founded in 1869, seamlessly integrates into its natural surroundings, boasting breathtaking views of Lake Mohonk and miles of hiking trails integrating visitors within its abundant forests.

With its “rustic” outdoor massage pavilion, expansive verandas, Mohonk offers guests a tranquil retreat where they can immerse themselves in the beauty of the natural world.

Whether hiking along scenic trails, kayaking on the lake, or simply unwinding  in a rocking chair with an intoxicating view of the striated cliffs across the lake beyond.  

Visitors to Mohonk Mountain House are enveloped in a sense of peace and tranquility that can only be found in communion with nature.

Revisiting the benefits of Biophilic Design in Architecture + Design

In conclusion, biophilic design offers a truly holistic approach to architecture and design that prioritizes nature while sensitively integrating the built environment. 

Here a lighter architectural approach where the natural environment takes the leading role.

By reconnecting occupants with nature in meaningful ways, our biophilic design approach has the potential to transform the way we live, work, sleep and interact with the built world around us.

As demonstrated by our numerous successful case studies, embracing biophilic principles can lead to spaces that not only look beautiful but also support the health, well-being, and happiness of those who inhabit them.