As designers and architects, we have a responsibility to protect the health, safety and well-being of our clients and, by extension, the broader public. But can our designed environments go one step further and actually help us heal, too?
Wherever one is in the course of sickness or healing, our physical surroundings can change the way we feel and, as a result, help catalyze and speed up the healing process. We are constantly exchanging energy with the environment around us, from the land, water, plants, trees, sky and stars. Thus, where we live, work, sleep and receive treatment directly impacts our health, vitality and ability to heal.
Biophilic Design: The word “biophilia” stems from the Greek meaning “love life.” Research suggests that both natural and man-made biophilic environments exert a healing effect on the human body. For example, significant health benefits are observed and measured in neighborhoods with tree-lined streets (Karden et al., 2015).
Biophilic design reflects a person’s inherent need for nature and is a discipline that inspires the integration of natural materials and renewable natural resources. I believe biophilic design is healing for both the architect and the user, just as living, breathing structures are energetically nourishing and stimulating.
Homes: A holistically balanced home is essential for our body’s regenerative processes. If we design our homes – particularly our bedrooms and kitchens – to be as healthy and balanced as possible, our bodies are able to heal and detoxify at a faster rate. Some of my favorite interior design strategies for this include: using organic and renewable materials, prioritizing natural colors, layering in greenery and implementing thoughtful lighting design.
Healthcare Facilities: The design of healthcare facilities has been influenced by a number of trends, including elements of biophilic design, in recent years. A common theme has been a focus on patient experience. Whether it’s creating single-patient rooms with residential touches to make them feel more inviting or providing access to sunlight, views of nature or beautiful artwork, it’s clear that the healing process is supported by promoting patient comfort and satisfaction in the design of hospitals and outpatient medical centers.