Biophilia

Exploring the human-nature connection

Deeply encoded in each of us through evolution, biophilia is the instinctive bond humans feel with other living systems. People generally respond positively to natural aspects of the environment such as foliage, flowers, moving water, organic forms and sunlight. Fostering visual connections to nature in the built environment benefits our physical, emotional and cognitive well-being and is critically important for artists and designers to consider in our increasingly urbanized world.

Biophilic Design: Biophilia, Living Systems, and the Human-Nature Connection

Building on discussions of sustainability and problem solving from nature (biomimicry), this course promoted a holistic view of spatial design grounded in biology and the natural world. The course reviewed research on the psychological and health benefits of connecting with nature; historical and contemporary applications of biophilic design principles; as well as the potential impact of bringing this practice into a mainstream dialog. For the final project, students considered biophilic design in association with green technologies and applications of living media in the built environment to develop a design strategy that made room 11 of the Nature Lab a more nature-rich environment.

This course was co-taught in Spring 2016 by Nature Lab Director Neal Overstrom and Biological Programs Designer Jennifer Bissonnette.

Stick-lets™

Given that busy family schedules, parental fears and other factors of contemporary life often preclude urban children from getting much exposure to nature, Industrial Design grad student Christina Kazakia resolved to do something to encourage more outdoor time. Months of research, field study and prototyping led her to design Stick-lets™ — weather-resistant, safe and reusable silicone joints that enable kids to connect random sticks of all sizes to build their own forts, tunnels and imaginary kingdoms using parts found in nature.

Green Wall

Living plants integrated with the interior walls of building are not only beautiful but also provide such natural benefits as moderating humidity, improving air quality, promoting energy savings and generally enhancing the well-being of people who live or work in these spaces. Although this rapidly emerging technology has garnered considerable interest, green walls have been slow to be widely implemented in the US. To support further research into the potential of these natural solutions, the Nature Lab is planning a pilot installation that enables students to explore the principles of vertical gardens and related technologies such as green roof systems.

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