Living, working, and learning in an environment that brings nature in, can mean not only peace of mind, but it can also foster the positive benefits of productivity, personal development, mental fitness, and even socio-economic well-being.
This ... in a nutshell ... is the zen of biophilia.
There is ample scientific research to indicate that infusing the learning environment with elements of nature has significant productivity, well-being, and overall positive developmental benefits.
Because who doesn’t love nature ...
This article will explore:
- The concept of biophilia
- Why biophilia is important in educational spaces
- How to incorporate biophilic design in schools
Let’s dig in and discover more about biophilia in educational spaces.
What is Biophilia?
We shared a good working knowledge of biophilia and biophilic design in our article Biophilia...it’s for everyone...in every space. In it, we discussed how to bring the love of nature into the office space. Because let’s be honest, nature rocks!
The term biophilia is derived from the Greek and is composed of the words “bio” meaning life and “philia” often translated as “brotherly love, friendship, or affection.” We sometimes refer to it as the love of nature, getting back to nature, and reconnecting with nature.
So how exactly does biophilia apply in different settings?
Biophilia, in Education?
In today’s educational environment, what is the role of nature? Here are some other questions that might have you raising your hand.
- What’s the effect of the absence of nature’s elements in the built environment on stress, creativity, cognitive ability, and emotional well-being?
- Can students be positively impacted in the areas of sensory development, attention spans, stress levels, visual acuity, and more by designing or embedding nature into their learning environments?
- What are the most critical design elements to counteract the riveting effects of technology and screen time on today’s youth?
As we lean into these questions, it will be helpful to gain a better understanding of the importance of biophilia in classrooms and educational spaces.
If you are in the process of updating your educational space, view this article highlighting how to design building interiors to meet new cleaning and distancing standards.
Here’s Why Biophilia is Important in Educational Spaces
Most schools are built with classrooms and indoor spaces that shelter and insulate students from the great outdoors. But why? Nature nurtures, and to us, that is worth exploring!
Let’s look at some critical areas of childhood development and see how biophilic design can help:
Sensory and motor development have to do with solving problems and interacting with the five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. Adding sensory elements from the living, natural environment can help inspire curiosity, imagination, and discovery in students.
Stress and fatigue can be caused by noisy, open-plan classrooms. This can be reduced and motivation can be enhanced with exposure to nature’s sounds and water patterns.
Cognitive ability and emotional well-being are increased through nature. Research indicates that cognitive ability and emotional wellbeing can be significantly increased by designing or embedding nature into learning environments.
Attention spans, decreased ability to focus, and ADHD behaviors are all at risk with the lack of nurture from nature. Go out and play! It’s reported that children today spend more time looking at a screen and less time outside than any previous generation. Classrooms that incorporate biophilic design offer significant benefits to learning, including increased attendance, higher test scores, improved behavior, reduced stress, and increased focus.
Incorporating biophilic design elements into our schools can help overcome these challenges.
Isn’t this fascinating?! Let’s move on to how this is possible in the learning environment.
Incorporating Biophilic Design into Schools
One of the best ways to begin thinking about enhancing the educational environment with the natural world involves three critical elements of design:
- Exposure to natural light helps stimulate levels of serotonin for vital physiological and psychological benefits (appetite, digestive health, mood balance, well-being). Balance natural light from windows with student comfort by using solar shades in different filtering options.
- Exposure to nature, whether real or simulated, helps counteract stress and sedentary-based classroom environments. No windows? No problem. Bring nature in with graphics or pictures of trees, gardens, rivers or other natural elements on the walls. These products offer protection from damage, have cleanliness attributes, and help embed the classroom with natural-looking colors and patterns. In addition, Aspex® Printed Wall Protection gives you the flexibility to enhance biophilic design with custom printing options, including images inspired by nature.
- Physical access to the outdoors helps to improve and promote discipline, creativity, risk-taking, and adventure. Physical access to the outdoors gives students the opportunity to experience the sights, sounds, feel, and scents of nature along with fresh air essential to mental alertness. But be sure that classrooms and educational corridors are safe for students with products such as corner guards, wall protection, kick plates, and more.
Incorporating biophilic design into classrooms and educational spaces is easier than you think, especially when you partner with designers and suppliers that focus on creating functional and practical spaces for education.
Interested in learning more?
Take a look at some additional resources on biophilia, innovative design, and more.
- Bring nature into your next design space with these tips.
- How commercial window shades can bring in views of nature.
- Partnering with nature to heal; biophilia and its impact on healthcare environments.
- How to turn nature scenes into whole-wall imagery.
- Learn more about how you can keep dining areas looking naturally fresh, attractive and protected from damage.
Looking for new color and design inspiration? Inpro’s new 2020 Design Collection is uniquely tailored to support biophilia in design. The launch of the Balance Palette features natural elements and calming designs that can be uniquely tailored to support the creation of more natural educational spaces.