Guide Human Nature Meditations: Concentrations for Managers and Other Human Beings

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Common examples include potted plants, flowerbeds, bird feeders, butterfly gardens, water features, fountains, aquariums, courtyard gardens and green walls or vegetated roofs. The strongest Nature in the Space experiences are achieved through the creation of meaningful, direct connections with these natural elements, particularly through diversity, movement and multi-sensory interactions.

Natural Analogues addresses organic, non-living and indirect evocations of nature. Mimicry of shells and leaves, furniture with organic shapes, and natural materials that have been processed or extensively altered e. The strongest Natural Analogue experiences are achieved by providing information richness in an organized and sometimes evolving manner. Nature of the Space addresses spatial configurations in nature.


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This includes our innate and learned desire to be able to see beyond our immediate surroundings, our fascination with the slightly dangerous or unknown; obscured views and revelatory moments; and sometimes even phobia-inducing properties when they include a trusted element of safety. The strongest Nature of the Space experiences are achieved through the creation of deliberate and engaging spatial configurations commingled with patterns of Nature in the Space and Natural Analogues.

Periodically throughout this paper, these patterns will be referred to in shorthand by their number 1 to 14 for quick reference. Sternberg, , pp For a more technical introduction to the hormones and neurotransmitters that govern our mind-body systems, see Principles of Neural Science Kandel et al. To familiarize the reader with these nature-health relationships, these mind-body systems are discussed here in the briefest sense, and are supported with a table of familiar hormones and neurotransmitters, environmental stressors, and biophilic design strategies.

Cognitive functioning encompasses our mental agility and memory, and our ability to think, learn and output either logically or creatively. For instance, directed attention is required for many repetitive tasks, such as routine paperwork, reading and performing calculations or analysis, as well as for operating in highly stimulating environments, as when crossing busy streets.

Directed attention is energy intensive, and over time can result in mental fatigue and depleted cognitive resources e. Kellert et al. Strong or routine connections with nature can provide opportunities for mental restoration, during which time our higher cognitive functions can sometimes take a break. As a result, our capacity for performing focused tasks is greater than someone with fatigued cognitive resources. Psychological responses encompass our adaptability, alertness, attention, concentration, and emotion and mood. This includes responses to nature that impact restoration and stress management.

For instance, empirical studies have reported that experiences of natural environments provide greater emotional restoration, with lower instances of tension, anxiety, anger, fatigue, confusion and total mood disturbance than urban environments with limited characteristics of nature e. Alcock et al. Hartig et al. Psychological responses can be learned or hereditary, with past experiences, cultural constructs and social norms playing a significant role in the psychological response mechanism. Physiological responses encompass our aural, musculoskeletal, respiratory, circadian systems and overall physical comfort.

Physiological responses triggered by connections with nature include relaxation of muscles, as well as lowering of diastolic blood pressure and stress hormone i. Park et al. Short term stress that increases heart rate and stress hormone levels, such as from encountering an unknown but complex and information-rich space, or looking over a banister to 8 stories below, is suggested to be beneficial to regulating physiological health The physiological system needs to be tested regularly, but only enough for the body to remain resilient and adaptive. Physiological responses to environmental stressors can be buffered through design, allowing for the restoration of bodily resources before system damage occurs Steg, The table illustrates the functions of each of the 14 Patterns in supporting stress reduction, cognitive performance, emotion and mood enhancement and the human body.

Biophilic design is the designing for people as a biological organism, respecting the mind-body systems as indicators of health and well-being in the context of what is locally appropriate and responsive. Good biophilic design draws from influential perspectives — health conditions, socio-cultural norms and expectations, past experiences, frequency and duration of the user experience, the many speeds at which it may be encountered, and user perception and processing of the experience — to create spaces that are inspirational, restorative, and healthy, as well as integrative with the functionality of the place and the urban ecosystem to which it is applied.

Above all, biophilic design must nurture a love of place. Increasingly dense urban environments, coupled with rising land values, elevate the importance of biophilic design across a spatial continuum from new and existing buildings, to parks and streetscapes and to campus, urban and regional planning. Each context supports a platform for myriad opportunities for integrative biophilic design, and mainstreaming healthy building practices for people and society. Discussed here in brief are some key perspectives that may help focus the planning and design processes.

To identify design strategies and interventions that restore or enhance well-being, project teams should understand the health baseline or performance needs of the target population. One approach is to ask: what is the most biophilic space we can conceivably design? Another is to ask: how can biophilic design improve performance metrics already used by the client e. As many biological responses to design occur together e. Health outcomes associated with biophilic spaces are of interest to building and portfolio managers and human resources administrators, because they inform long term design and measurement best practices, and to planners, policy makers and others because they inform public health policy and urban planning.

Biophilic design patterns are flexible and replicable strategies for enhancing the user experience that can be implemented under a range of circumstances. Just as lighting design for a classroom will be different than for a spa or home library, biophilic design interventions are based on the needs of a specific population in a particular space, and are likely to be developed from a series of evidence-based biophilic design patterns, ideally with a degree of monitoring and evaluation for efficacy.

For example, a project team may embrace the Visual Connection with Nature pattern to enhance the workplace experience for a series of interior fit-outs for a portfolio of offices. The strategy would be to improve views and bring plants into the space; the interventions may include installing a green wall, orienting desks to maximize views to outdoors, and initiating an employee stipend for desk plants.

The detail, location, and the extent to which each of these interventions is implemented will differ for each of the offices in the portfolio. A project team charged with reducing stress among emergency room nurses at the local hospital may intervene by replacing the abstract art with landscape paintings on the walls of the staffroom and installing a small garden and seating area in the adjacent interior courtyard.

While this project also uses the Visual Connection with Nature pattern, the selected interventions specifically target stress reduction for emergency room nurses based on a shared space they utilize routinely. Patterns in combination tend to increase the likelihood of health benefits of a space. Incorporating a diverse range of design strategies can accommodate the needs of various user groups from differing cultures and demographics and create an environment that is psycho-physiologically and cognitively restorative. Adding multiple biophilic strategies for the sake of diversity may backfire unless they are integrative and supporting a unified design intent.

When planning for implementation, common questions recur, such as how much is enough and what makes a good design great. A high quality intervention may be defined by the richness of content, user accessibility and, as mentioned above, diversity of strategies. A single high quality intervention can be more effective and have greater restorative potential than several low quality interventions. Climate, cost and other variables may influence or limit feasibility of certain interventions, but should not be considered an obstacle to achieving a high quality application. For example, multiple instances of Prospect with a shallow to moderate depth of field and limited information in the viewshed may not be as effective at prompting the desired response as a single powerful instance of Prospect with a moderate to high depth of field and an information-rich viewshed.

Identifying the most appropriate duration of exposure to a pattern, or combination of patterns, can be difficult. The ideal exposure time is likely dependent upon the user and desired effect, but as a general guideline, empirical evidence shows that positive emotions, mental restoration and other benefits can occur in as little as 5 to 20 minutes of immersion in nature When a long duration of exposure is not possible or desired, positioning biophilic design interventions along paths that channel high levels of foot traffic will help improve frequency of access. Consider too that micro-restorative experiences — brief sensory interactions with nature that promote a sense of well-being — while often designed in response to space-restriction, are more readily implementable, replicable and often more accessible than larger interventions; frequent exposure to these small interventions may contribute to a compounded restoration response.

Questions abound on matters of duration of exposure and frequency of access: How persistent is mental restoration over different terms of exposure to nature? Do the improvements continue incrementally with more exposure, or do they plateau? What combinations of design patterns can help optimize a biophilic experience?

We hope these questions and others will be explored as research continues on the intersections of neuroscience and design Ryan et al. Material Connection with Nature and other biophilic design patterns can be applied across all climates and environments, but may have different resulting forms, aesthetics and materials specific to their respective regions.

No two places are the same; this presents both challenges and opportunities for creativity in the application of biophilic design patterns. Discussed here are some key considerations that may help frame, prioritize, or influence decision making in the design process.

Historically, humans have built shelters from locally available materials that reflected the regional ecology; form and function were in response to the topography and climate. Known as vernacular architecture, these buildings and constructed landscapes connect to where they inhabit. Use of local timber, climate responsive design and xeriscaping — using native, drought tolerant plants to create landscape designs that resemble the climate of the surrounding landscape — can each be effective strategies in designing for a resilient, biophilic experience.

Whether rural or urban, not all natural or tempered environments are 'green' in color, nor should they be. Desert species and terrain can be equally important in reinforcing a biophilic connection to place. Some habitats may engender a stronger positive response than others, but a biodiverse savanna-like scene will most likely be preferred over an area abundant yet trackless sand desert, the open ocean, or a dark forest.

In rural environments, human-nature interactions are abundant, and this regular exposure to nature has restorative qualities that we perhaps take for granted. Suburban settings are typically rife with intuitively applied biophilic design; the suburban yard with shade trees, grass, low shrubs, and beds of flowers is essentially an analogue of the African savanna.

Porches and balconies offer more than just quaintness and real estate value; many suburban homes and urban rowhouses are raised 18 inches or more, creating a Prospect-Refuge condition with views from windows, stoops and porches. The potential human health benefits are undervalued in high-density settings where residential towers with balconies are both limited and only available to high-paying tenants.

Land in urban environments is limited and at a premium, so it may be unrealistic to replicate features more suitable to a rural environment in terms of scale or abundance. As such, biophilic design strategies will differ depending on the local political climate, zoning, geography, land availability and ownership. In the narrow streets of Vienna, Austria, restaurants rent parking spaces for the entire summer and set up tables and temporary landscaping to provide outdoor dining.

This brings nature into the urban core and within walking distance to a greater number of people, opening up the possibility for micro-restorative experiences. Beatley, Biophilic design patterns should be scaled to the surrounding environment and to the predicted user population for the space. Patterns can be applied at the scale of a micro-space, a room, a building, a neighborhood or campus, and even an entire district or city. Each of these spaces will present different design challenges depending on the programming, user types and dynamics, climate, culture, and various physical parameters, as well as existing or needed infrastructure.

Size and availability of space are two of the most common factors influencing feasibility of biophilic design patterns. For instance, the Prospect pattern [ P11 ] typically requires significant space. Other patterns, such as Connection with Natural Systems [ P7 ], may be more feasible where there is access to an outdoor space, which is a common challenge in dense urban environments. For instance, the psychological benefits of nature actually have been shown to increase with exposure to higher levels of biodiversity Fuller el al.

From this we can derive that small, micro-restorative experiences that are also biodiverse are likely to be particularly effective at engendering a restorative biophilic experience. Micro-restorative experiences might include moments of sensory contact with nature through a window, television, image, painting or an aquarium. In urban environments where sensory overload is common Joye, , such experiences will be most valued and impactful when situated in locations with high foot traffic, allowing for a greater frequency of access to trigger the desired biophilic response.

Traditional Japanese doorway gardens are a perfect example of replicable small-scale interventions. The speed at which one moves through an environment, whether rural or urban, impacts the level of observable detail and the perceived scale of buildings and spaces. The General Motors "Tech Center" in Warren, Michigan, designed by architect Eero Saarinen in , is designed to be experienced at 30 mph, so for the pedestrian, the scale seems oversized and the spacing of buildings is oddly far apart.


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  4. Similarly, the landscaping along freeway and highway greenbelts is typically done in large swaths for instant interpretability. In contrast, a pedestrian focused environment will have more fine-grained details in the landscape design to allow for pause, exploration, and a more intimate experience.

    On the other hand, interior fit-outs are an excellent opportunity to introduce Natural Analogue patterns which can be applied to surfaces like walls, floors, and ceilings as well as furniture and window treatments. In addition, not all aspects of biophilia are space dependent. Some patterns e. Major renovations, new construction and master planning provide more opportunities for incorporating biophilic design patterns that are coupled with systems integration at the building, campus or community scale.

    Biophobia is a fear of or aversion to nature or living things Ulrich, Similarly, ecophobia refers to an unreasonable but deeply conditioned disgust for or reaction against natural forms or places. While biophobia is arguably genetic, to a degree, both phobias are learnt response mechanisms through direct experience, culture and education which, according to Salingaros and Masden , includes architectural education.

    When tempered with an element of safety e. Current evolutionary hypotheses and theories state that contemporary landscape preferences are influenced by human evolution, reflecting the innate landscape qualities that enhanced survival for humanity through time. These schools of thought include the biophilia hypothesis Wilson, and Appleton, , and the preference matrix While empirical research has shown that there is a degree of universality to landscape preferences among humans, preferences have been modified by cultural influences, experiences and socio-economic factors Tveit et al, Variations in landscape preferences have thus emerged among immigrants, ethnic groups, subcultures, genders, and age groups.

    Cultural constructs, social inertia and ecological literacy suffuse differing perspectives on what constitutes natural, nature, wild, or beautiful Tveit et al, ; Environmental Generational Amnesia and the Ecological Aesthetic Theory help explain how some perspectives may have evolved, and these differences come to bear across countries and regions, as well as among neighborhoods within the same city. And while ethnicity can play a role in influencing an individual's landscape preferences, cultures and groups across the world utilize landscapes and space in different ways Frequency of use, nature of use, participation rates and purpose of visit all vary drastically between nationalities, cultures and sub-groups.

    These factors do not mean that certain ethnic groups have a lower appreciation for landscape or a less significant connection with nature. These groups simply utilize and interact with nature in ways that are compatible with their culture and needs. Identifying early on what those needs may be will help define parameters for appropriate design strategies and interventions.

    One of the cultural challenges to upholding that human-nature bond, as well as environmental stewardship, is a phenomenon known as Environmental Generational Amnesia, the shifting baseline for what is considered a normal environmental condition as it continues to degrade. As environmental degradation continues, the baseline continues to shift with each ensuing generation, each perceiving this degraded condition as the norm or non-degraded condition. This shifting baseline varies across cultures, geographic regions and sub-groups Kahn, , influencing environmental stewardship, proximity and access to nature and the biophilic experience.

    Helping a community to understand what their home looked like when it was a healthy, intact ecosystem is one way of making a Connection with Natural Systems and will hopefully help foster and frame the importance of other areas of environmental quality. Age and gender are also known to influence biophilic response trends. Women report higher perceived levels of stress than men, yet are less likely than their male counterparts to use available natural outdoor vegetative space during the work day Of particular interest is that the degree of enhanced immune function due to immersion in nature has been observed to differ between the genders.

    For instance, following a forest walk, immune function was increased for a period of 30 days in men, but only seven days in women Li, , suggesting that interventions targeting female populations in the workplace may need to either prioritize indoor nature experiences or improve accessibility for prolonged outdoor nature experiences. Youth benefit the most from nature contact in terms of increasing self-esteem. The gains for self-esteem from nature contact are suggested to decline with age; elderly and youth benefit the least in terms of mood enhancement from nature contact Berto, With age also comes a differing preference in landscape in regards to perceived safety.

    While an urban woodland may be an enticing place for adventure for a child or teenager, the same condition could be perceived by adults and elderly populations as risky Kopec, , which could possibly be overcome by incorporating a Prospect-Refuge condition. Developing an interdisciplinary strategy early on in a project will help ensure cost-effective opportunities are not lost before they are fully considered. Biophilia is but one piece of the puzzle to creating a vibrant, sustainable, and restorative environment.

    The integration of a multi-disciplinary strategy in the early stages of development — through a stakeholder charrette process or similar — will put team members on equal footing and allow for the identification of potential strengths, challenges and opportunities. In the long run, this approach will improve project satisfaction and save money. Environmental quality is an umbrella term that refers to the sum of the properties and characteristics of a specific environment and how it affects human beings and other organisms within its zone of influence. Biophilia, like air quality, thermal comfort and acoustics, is an essential component of environmental quality that expands the conversation from daylight, materials toxicity, and air, water and soil quality, to include human biological health and well-being.

    When integral to the environmental quality discussion, biophilia may also help dissolve the perceived division between human needs and building performance. And we would be remiss not to acknowledge that back-of-house and night shift workers are often the most deprived of biophilic experiences, while they are also the very people responsible for monitoring and maintaining building performance standards. Thoughtful applications of biophilic design can create a multi-platform strategy for familiar challenges traditionally associated with building performance such as thermal comfort, acoustics, energy and water management, as well as larger scale issues such as asthma, biodiversity and flood mitigation.

    We know increased natural air flow can help prevent sick building syndrome; daylighting can cut energy costs in terms of heating and cooling These strategies can all be implemented in a manner that achieves a biophilic response for improved performance, health and well-being. Biophilic design interventions that integrate with other building performance strategies have the potential to improve user experience and overall systems efficiency.

    For the design of the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital in Singapore, architect RMJM met with ecologists and engineers early in the project development process to employ biophilia, ecological conservation and water sensitive urban design to manage rainwater, mitigate loss of biodiversity and create a restorative environment for patients, reaping more benefits for the project than any one of the three teams could have on their own Alexandra Health, The biophilic experiences are more likely to persist long term when they are embedded in the programming and infrastructure of a place.

    The ecological aesthetic theory proclaims that knowledge about the ecological functions of a landscape will increase preference ratings for that landscape. This theory depends on knowledge as a key driver of landscape preference Nassauer, As a cultural theory, it can somewhat explain the variations in landscape preferences between social classes. For instance, college students are reported to have more favorable attitudes towards wilderness than secondary school students Preferences for more tamed landscapes, typical of heavily urbanized environments, by lower income groups, is contrasted by the preference for wilder landscapes by higher income groups; it can be deduced that education, more accessible to those with higher socioeconomic status, plays a key role in developing the ecological aesthetic It is impossible to predict all future human-nature interactions or to ensure that the desired response recurs over a period of time for every user based on a particular strategy or intervention.

    Indeed, we can assume that efficacy of many biophilic patterns are likely to rise and decline with diurnal and seasonal cycles. For instance, the health benefits of a view to nature may be diminished during winter months or completely negated for night shift workers when the view is shrouded in darkness. However, secondary or seasonal strategies can help maintain balance, such as with indoor interventions, delivering the desired response throughout the year.

    User controls for lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation, and even noise can either complement design efforts, or negate them when controls are mismanaged or underutilized — keeping the window blinds closed eliminates a Visual Connection with Nature, and high partitions in an open plan office eliminates opportunities for Prospect and a number of other patterns Urban Green Council, Behavior change is not often in the purview of the architect, so designing for controllability versus automation or permanency may inform the intervention design process.

    Maintenance of implemented strategies is also a consideration — will there be someone responsible for cleaning the fish tank and watering the plants? Having trainings and discussions with facility operators and a reference guide indicating appropriate maintenance requirements and parameters will help uphold the intended biophilic experience set forth in the design strategy.

    Monitoring efficacy of implemented biophilic design patterns for the express purpose of improving health and well-being is a new branch of inquiry. Variability in the built environment, as discussed here, creates a challenging framework for verification; quantitative metrics are often desired but not always appropriate, and the highly invasive nature of some measurement techniques and tools i. Many of the current techniques used require strict control of variables and cost which tends to limit the size of the test group.

    There are, however, several new technologies, like wristband monitors, and very light weight headband EEG that may open up new rapid methods of testing; but until those technologies go mainstream, rapid testing can also be done in more rudimentary fashion and with a smaller budget. As no two interventions will be exactly the same, all results will differ to one degree or another. Culture, climate, age, gender, landscape character, immigrant status, mental health, and genetic predispositions, for example, create a challenging labyrinth of data for comparison.

    Nevertheless, tracking and monitoring of human biological responses and outcomes triggered by a biophilic pattern is vital in the progress and further development of biophilic design as a best practice. The science of biophilia is a rapidly evolving field. There is an increasing interest in biophilia research in psychology, neuroscience and endocrinology and our understanding of these patterns will be refined and strengthened as new evidence is gathered.

    It is entirely possible that additional patterns will emerge over time. In the two decades since Wilson published The Biophilia Hypothesis, the body of evidence supporting biophilia has expanded considerably. The descriptive term 'pattern' is being used for three reasons:. The use of spatial patterns is inspired by the precedents of A Pattern Language Alexander, Ishikawa, Silverstein et al.

    Kaplan, S. Nikos Salingaros, ; Christopher Alexander brings clarity to this intent with his explanation that patterns. These fourteen Patterns of Biophilic Design focus on psychological, physiological and cognitive benefits. The purpose of defining these patterns is to articulate connections between aspects of the built and natural environments and how people react to and benefit from them. Just as combinations of culture, demographics, health baselines, and characteristics of the built environment can impact the experience of space differently, so too can each design pattern.

    Finally, each pattern has been assessed for overall potential impact and the strength of the research on which a pattern is built. Unless otherwise noted, all examples reported are based on data published in a peer-reviewed journal. We acknowledge that some studies are more rigorous than others and that some patterns have a greater body of research to support findings of significance. By establishing these 14 basic patterns, we hope to encourage the widespread scientific study, language development, and design implementation of Biophilia. A Visual Connection with Nature is a view to elements of nature, living systems and natural processes.

    It can convey a sense of time, weather and other living things.

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    The Visual Connection with Nature pattern has evolved from research on visual preference and responses to views to nature showing reduced stress, more positive emotional functioning, and improved concentration and recovery rates. There is also evidence for stress reduction related to both experiencing real nature and seeing images of nature. Visual access to biodiversity is reportedly more beneficial to our psychological health than access to land area i.

    This is often difficult to achieve in the built environment, particularly in already dense urban settings, though the psychological benefits of nature are suggested to increase with higher levels of biodiversity and not with an increase in natural vegetative area Fuller et al. Viewing nature for ten minutes prior to experiencing a mental stressor has shown to stimulate heart rate variability and parasympathetic activity i. Parallax arises with a change in viewpoint occurring due to motion of the observer, of the observed, or of both.

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    The human brain exploits the parallax to gain depth perception and estimate distances to objects. Viewing scenes of nature stimulates a larger portion of the visual cortex than non-nature scenes, which triggers more pleasure receptors in our brain, leading to prolonged interest and faster stress recovery.

    For example, heart rate recovery from low-level stress, such as from working in an office environment, has shown to occur 1. The objective of the Visual Connection with Nature pattern is to provide an environment that helps the individual shift focus to relax the eye muscles and temper cognitive fatigue. The effect of an intervention will improve as the quality of a view and the amount of visible biodiversity each increases.

    A view to nature through a glass window provides a benefit over a digital screen e. This may change as three-dimensional videography advances. Nevertheless, simulated or constructed nature is measurably better at engendering stress reduction than having no visual connection at all. Visual Connection with Nature is often paired with a number of other patterns. Common overlaps with the most significant potential impact:. An example of a designed environment with an excellent Visual Connection with Nature is the birch tree and moss garden in the New York Times Building in New York City — a carved out space in the middle of the building by which everyone passes as they enter or leave the building.

    Adjacent to a restaurant and the main conference rooms, the birch garden is an oasis of calm in the hustle and bustle of Times Square. Non-Visual Connection with Nature is the auditory, haptic, olfactory, or gustatory stimuli that engender a deliberate and positive reference to nature, living systems or natural processes. A space with a good Non-Visual Connection with Nature feels fresh and well balanced; the ambient conditions are perceived as complex and variable but at the same time familiar and comfortable, whereby sounds, aromas, and textures are reminiscent of being outdoors in nature.

    The Non-Visual Connection with Nature pattern has evolved from research on reductions in systolic blood pressure and stress hormones; impact of sound and vibration on cognitive performance; and perceived improvements in mental health and tranquility as a result of non-visual sensory interactions with non-threatening nature [ P2 Endnote ].

    Each sensory system has a vast body of research to support it; here we provide just a taste. Participants of one study who either listened to river sounds or saw a nature movie with river sounds during a post-task restoration period reported having more energy and greater motivation after the restoration period compared to participants who only listened to office noise or silence Jahncke et al.

    In addition, viewing the nature movie with river sounds during the restoration period had a more positive affect than only listening to river sounds alone. Ocean waves and vehicle traffic can have a very similar sound pattern. In an experiment using a synthesized sound that replicated the waves and traffic sound pattern, researchers observed that participants processed the synthesized sound in different portions of the brain depending on whether they were also watching a video of either waves or vehicle traffic Hunter et al.

    Participants considered the sound to be pleasurable when viewing the video of waves, but not when viewing the video of traffic. This study suggests a strong connection between our visual and auditory sensory systems and psychological well-being. Olfactory: Our olfactory system processes scent directly in the brain, which can trigger very powerful memories.

    Traditional practices have long used plant oils to calm or energize people. Studies have also shown that olfactory exposure to herbs and phytoncides essential oils from trees have a positive effect on the healing process and human immune function, respectively Li et al. Haptic: Pet therapy, where companionship and the act of petting and feeling the fur of domesticated animals, is known to have profound calming effects on patients; gardening and horticulture activities have shown to engender environmental stewardship among children, reduce self-reported fatigue while maintaining joint flexibility among adults e.

    The act of touching real plant life, versus synthetic plants, has also shown to induce relaxation through a change in cerebral blood flow rates e. These examples give reason to believe that the experience of touching other elements in nature, such as water or raw materials, may result in similar health outcomes. A fountain and gardens in the Calat Alhambra in Granada, Spain provide a non-visual experience of nature. Gustatory: Tasting is yet another way of experiencing nature and learning about our environment.

    While adults are often curious or fearful of edible plants and herbs, consider the familiar habit of infants and toddlers putting found objects in their mouths — they are seeking information. The objective of the Non-Visual Connection with Nature pattern is to provide an environment that uses sound, scent, touch and possibly even taste to engage the individual in a manner that helps reduce stress and improve perceived physical and mental health. These senses can be experienced separately, although the experience is intensified and the health effect is compounded if multiple senses are consistently engaged together.

    As experiences can be enhanced when paired with more than one sense, the application of a second pattern could help identify the stimuli or other qualities of the stimuli. Common strategy overlaps:. Calat Alhambra in Granada, Spain, is an exquisite example of the 14 Patterns. While some patterns are more evident in some spaces than others, Non-Visual Connections with Nature are experienced throughout. The integration of water and natural ventilation with the architecture is central to the non-visual experience, supporting a seamless connection between indoor and outdoor spaces, and between the building and the surrounding natural landscape.

    Solar heat penetrates at distinct locations, the whispering gallery resonates sounds of nature and people, and gardens of rosemary, myrtles, and other fragrant plants surround the premises. The extensive use of water fountains creates a microclimate — the space both sounds and feels cooler — while stone floors and handrails with water channels cool the feet and hands through conductance.

    Non-Rhythmic Sensory Stimuli are stochastic and ephemeral connections with nature that may be analyzed statistically but may not be predicted precisely. A space with good Non-Rhythmic Sensory Stimuli feels as if one is momentarily privy to something special, something fresh, interesting, stimulating and energizing.

    It is a brief but welcome distraction. The Non-Rhythmic Sensory Stimuli pattern has evolved from research on looking behavior particularly periphery vision movement reflexes ; eye lens focal relaxation patterns; heart rate, systolic blood pressure and sympathetic nervous system activity; and observed and quantified behavioral measures of attention and exploration. Studies of the human response to stochastic movement of objects in nature and momentary exposure to natural sounds and scents have shown to support physiological restoration.

    When these muscles stay contracted for an extended period, i. This can be achieved by designing for momentary exposure to the stochastic or unpredictable movement, particularly for periphery vision or the periodic experience of scents or sounds. Non-Rhythmic Sensory Stimuli differs from [ P2 ] Non-Visual Connection with Nature in that it is inclusive of all sensory systems and is most commonly experienced at a subconscious level through momentary exposure that is not typically sought out or anticipated; whereas Non-Visual Connection may be deliberate, planned, and over longer, more predictable durations of time.

    When immersed in nature, we continually experience instances of non-rhythmic stimuli: birds chirping, leaves rustling, the faint scent of eucalyptus in the air. The built environment has evolved into a deliberately predictable realm. Even some highly manicured gardens and certainly interior vegetation lack the qualities needed to support non-rhythmic sensory stimuli. The implementation of habitat restoration and rainwater management has led to ephemeral experiences of swaying grasses, falling water and the buzz of passing insects and animals that are visible from walkways, porches, and windows around the community.

    The space provides a feeling of both flexibility and a sense of control.

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    Research shows that people like moderate levels of sensory variability in the environment, including variation in light, sound and temperature, and that an environment devoid of sensory stimulation and variability can lead to boredom and passivity e. Kaplan, The intent is also for the user to be able to control thermal conditions, either by using individual controls, or allowing occupants access to variable ambient conditions within a space.

    An alternative approach is to provide combinations of ambient and surface temperatures, humidity and airflow, similar to those experienced outdoors, while also providing some form of personal control e. Since thermal comfort is inherently subjective, and strongly varies between people, it is important to give a degree of control to individuals, which can manifest architecturally e.

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    When an individual experiences thermal discomfort, he or she will likely take action to adapt e. Sometimes these adaptive actions are simply in response to dynamic changes in personal preference. In order to create an enhanced thermal experience, conditions do not have to reach the point of discomfort for these opportunities for changing the thermal conditions to create a positive experience Brager, The passive design of the hospital draws fresh air in from the exterior courtyards; the cool air helps maintain thermal comfort, while patients also have operable windows in their rooms, allowing for greater personal control.

    Connecting, elevated exterior walkways also provide access to breezes, shade and solar heat. Presence of Water is a condition that enhances the experience of a place through the seeing, hearing or touching of water. A space with a good Presence of Water condition feels compelling and captivating. Fluidity, sound, lighting, proximity and accessibility each contribute to whether a space is stimulating, calming, or both. The Presence of Water pattern has evolved from research on visual preference for and positive emotional responses to environments containing water elements; reduced stress, increased feelings of tranquility, and lower heart rate and blood pressure from exposure to water features; improved concentration and memory restoration induced by complex, naturally fluctuating visual stimuli; and enhanced perception and psychological and physiological responsiveness when multiple senses are stimulated simultaneously.

    Visual preference research indicates that a preferred view contains bodies of clean i. Research has also shown that landscapes with water elicit a higher restorative response and generally have a greater preference among populations in comparison to landscapes without water. Supporting evidence has suggested that natural scenes without water and urban scenes with water elements follow with primarily equal benefits Jahncke et al. Auditory access and perceived or potential tactile access to water also reportedly reduces stress Alvarsson et al.

    The objective of the Presence of Water pattern is to capitalize on the multi-sensory attributes of water to enhance the experience of a place in a manner that is soothing, prompts contemplation, enhances mood, and provides restoration from cognitive fatigue. Taking advantage of the sounds created by small-scale running water, and our capacity to touch it, will amplify the desired health response with a multi-sensory experience. Images of nature that include aquatic elements are more likely to help reduce blood pressure and heart rate than similar imagery without aquatic elements.

    On several portions of the gently sloping floors are slits from which a sheet of water emerges, it flows across the textured stone and then disappears into a series of slots toward the center of the courtyard. Designed by Gustafson Guthrie Nichol Ltd. During events the system is drained and seamlessly becomes part of the floor plane. Lighting design has long been used to set the mood for a space, and different lighting conditions elicit differing psychological responses. The impact of daylight on performance, mood and well-being has been studied for many years, in a variety of environments, and as a complex field of science and design, light has been extensively studied and written about.

    Early research showed that productivity is higher in well daylighted work places, sales are higher in daylit stores, and that children performed better in daylighted classrooms with views — the research focus was on lighting strategy and task performance and less on human biology. Recent research has focused more heavily on illuminance fluctuation and visual comfort, human factors and perception of light, and impacts of lighting on the circadian system functioning.

    The response is apparent in body temperature, heart rate, and circadian functioning. Higher content of blue light similar to skylight produces serotonin; whereas, an absence of blue light which occurs at night produces melatonin. The balance of serotonin and melatonin can be linked to sleep quality, mood, alertness, depression, breast cancer and other health conditions Kandel et al. The goal should not be to create uniform distribution of light through a boring space, nor should there be extreme differences i.

    The human eye and the processing of light and images within the brain are adaptable over a broad range of conditions, although there are limitations. For example, when the lighting difference between adjoining sources or surfaces has a brightness or luminance ratio of greater than forty-to-one, glare may occur, which diminishes visual comfort Clanton, For work areas, luminance ratios between task and immediate surroundings should not exceed 10 to one. So while dramatic lighting differences may be great for some religious, socialization and circulation spaces, they are not a good idea on work surfaces.

    Diffuse lighting on vertical and ceiling surfaces provides a calm backdrop to the visual scene. Accent lighting and other layering of light sources creates interest and depth, while task or personalized lighting provides localized flexibility in intensity and direction. These layers help create a pleasing visual environment Clanton, Movement of light and shadows along a surface can attract our attention. For example, the dappled light under the canopy of an aspen tree, or the reflections of rippling water on a wall.

    Just as variations in lighted surfaces are important for interpreting surfaces, conducting a variety of tasks, and safe navigation, circadian lighting is important for supporting biological health. Leveraging opportunities for illuminance fluctuation, light distribution and light color variability that stimulate the human eye without causing discomfort will improve the quality of the user experience. Design considerations for establishing a balance between dynamic and diffused lighting conditions:. Connection with Natural Systems is the awareness of natural processes, especially seasonal and temporal changes characteristic of a healthy ecosystem.

    A space with a good Connection with Natural Systems evokes a relationship to a greater whole, making one aware of seasonality and the cycles of life. The experience is often relaxing, nostalgic, profound or enlightening, and frequently anticipated. There is limited scientific documentation of the health impacts associated with access to natural systems; however, much like [ P5 ] Presence of Water, this pattern is suspected to enhance positive health responses.

    In Biophilic Design Kellert et al. This pattern has a strong temporal element, which can be expressed culturally, as in the Japanese love of the ephemerality of cherry blossoms. The objective of the Connection with Natural Systems pattern is to heighten both awareness of natural properties and hopefully environmental stewardship of the ecosystems within which those properties prevail. The strategy for working with the pattern may be as simple as identifying key content in a view to nature e.

    In either case, the temporal component is usually the key factor in pattern recognition and the triggering of a deeper awareness of a functioning ecosystem. Design considerations and opportunities that may help create quality connections with natural systems:. Witnessing a hawk killing a small bird shifted employee perception of their green roof as an ecosystem and not just a decorative garden.

    This perception was reinforced when employees noticed changes in bee colony behavior during times of extreme heat and humidity, when the honeybee apiary was invaded by robber bees, and again when the summer honey harvest looked and tasted different than the autumn harvest. We have a visual preference for organic and biomorphic forms but the science behind why this is the case is not yet formulated.

    While our brain knows that biomorphic forms and patterns are not living things, we may describe them as symbolic representations of life Vessel, Nature abhors right angles and straight lines; the Golden Angle, which measures approximately The Fibonacci series 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, Biomorphic forms and patterns have been artistically expressed for millennia, from adorning ancient temples to more modern examples like Hotel Tassel in Brussels Victor Horta, and the structures of Gare do Oriente in Lisbon Santiago Calatrava, More intriguing still is the architectural expression of mathematical proportions or arrangements that occur in nature, the meaning of which has been fodder for philosophical prose since Aristotle and Euclid.

    Many cultures have used these mathematical relationships in the construction of buildings and sacred spaces. The intent is to use biomorphic forms and patterns in a way that creates a more visually preferred environment that enhances cognitive performance while helping reduce stress. Humans have been decorating living spaces with representations of nature since time immemorial, and architects have long created spaces using elements inspired by trees, bones, wings and seashells. Many classic building ornaments are derived from natural forms, and countless fabric patterns are based on leaves, flowers, and animal skins.

    Contemporary architecture and design have introduced more organic building forms with softer edges or even biomimetic qualities. Both approaches can be utilized in tandem to enhance the biophilic experience. The interior space in particular is rife with natural analogues, with graphic vine-like tendrils painted on the wall and designed into the banisters and railings, floor mosaics, window details, furniture, and columns. The curvaceous tiered steps seem to make distant reference to shells or flower petals. A Material Connection with Nature is material and elements from nature that, through minimal processing, reflect the local ecology or geology to create a distinct sense of place.

    A space with a good Material Connection with Nature feels rich, warm and authentic, and sometimes stimulating to the touch. While scientific documentation on the health impact of natural materials is limited, available research is beginning to shed light on opportunities for informed design.

    As such, the Material Connection with Nature pattern has evolved from a limited body of scientific research on physiological responses to variable quantities of natural materials, and the impact of natural color palette, particularly the color green, has on cognitive performance. The researchers observed that a room with a moderate ratio of wood i. Humans are also able to distinguish more variations in the color green than of any other color Painter, However, which variation s of the color green most influence creativity or other mind-body responses is not well understood.

    The objective of the Material Connection with Nature pattern is to explore the characteristics and quantities of natural materials optimal for engendering positive cognitive or physiological responses. In some cases, there may be several layers of information in materials that enhance the connection, such as learned knowledge about the material, familiar textures, or nested fractals that occur within a stone or wood grain pattern.

    Natural materials can be decorative or functional, and are typically processed or extensively altered e. One enters the glass skyscraper by grasping a thin wooden door handle. The interior lobby walls are clad with Jerusalem Stone — the tiles with the highest fossil content were intentionally placed at the corner where they would be most encountered and even touched by passersby. Leather paneling in the elevator lobby is warm in color, providing a sense of calm for people as they wait for their ride, and soft to the touch, from which the patina has begun to show.

    Research has repeatedly confirmed correlations between fractal geometries in nature and those in art and architecture e. A square with a scaling factor of 3 is more impactful than to a factor of 2. Nested fractal designs expressed as a third iteration of the base design i. Overly complex designs and environments may result in psychological stress and even nausea. According to Judith Heerwagen and Roger Ulrich, occupants in a US Navy office in Mississippi reported nausea, headaches and dizziness, symptoms frequently associated with poor indoor air quality or poor ventilation.

    Fractal patterns can be identified in classical art and vernacular architecture from the column capitals of ancient Greece and Egypt, the art of Ancient Mayans, Islamic and Egyptian art, Hindu temples, Angkor Wat in Cambodia 12th century , and the Eiffel Tower in Paris Fractals are also evident in such well-known works as those of Botticelli, Vincent van Gogh, and Jackson Pollock. Scenes in nature typically support multiple fractal dimensions — savanna landscapes often support mid-range fractal dimensions — so there are potentially many opportunities to incorporate fractals.

    A familiar challenge in the built environment is in identifying the balance between an information rich environment that is interesting and restorative, and one with an information surplus that is overwhelming and stressful. Targeting an optimal dimensional ratio for design applications can be problematic i. As Salingaros points out, identifying precise fractal geometries in existing naturescapes, structures and artworks is a challenge, whereas generating new works with complex fractals is quite easy, so specifying fractal artwork, for instance, may not always be the most efficient use of project resources.

    The cathedral-like in structure designed by Santiago Calatrava is information rich, yet protecting, with its orderly columns that rise up into a canopy of complex tree-like forms, showers diffuse light and shadow onto the courtyard, and keeps visitors awestruck and engaged. Prospect is an unimpeded view over a distance for surveillance and planning. A space with a good Prospect condition feels open and freeing, yet imparts a sense of safety and control, particularly when alone or in unfamiliar environments. The Prospect pattern has evolved from research on visual preference and spatial habitat responses, as well as cultural anthropology, evolutionary psychology and architectural analysis.

    Health benefits are suggested to include reductions in stress, boredom, irritation, fatigue and perceived vulnerability, as well as improved comfort [ P11 Endnote ]. In evolutionary psychology terms, we should prefer habitats that are similar to the African savannas on which we evolved as a species. Wilson and Kellert argue that our view preferences, and possibly our aesthetic preferences, have roots in referential points that benefit our survival. The savanna, with its open terrain and copses of shade trees, becomes more favorable when combined with water, an understory of flowers and forbs, calm grazing animals and evidence of human habitation.

    Good Prospect is extensive and information rich, with a savanna-like view. The objective of the Prospect pattern is to provide users with a condition suitable for visually surveying and contemplating the surrounding environment for both opportunity and hazard. In landscapes, prospect is characterized as the view from an elevated position or across an expanse.

    While an elevated position can enhance indoor and outdoor prospect, it is not essential to creating a quality Prospect experience. There is interior prospect, exterior prospect, as well as short depth and high depth prospect that can occur simultaneously. The complexity and variety of ways to achieve prospect is what makes it such a powerful design element. For interior spaces or dense urban spaces, prospect is the ability to see from one space to another, and is strengthened when there are clear distinctions and the opportunity to see through multiple spaces Hildebrand, The central courtyard of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California, designed by Louis Kahn, is a popular example of a nearly pure Prospect condition.

    This elevated space is bounded by the angled fins of the adjacent researcher offices, and has a rill flowing through the center out towards the view of the Pacific Ocean. Refuge is a place for withdrawal, from environmental conditions or the main flow of activity, in which the individual is protected from behind and overhead. A space with a good Refuge condition feels safe, providing a sense of retreat and withdrawal — for work, protection, rest or healing — whether alone or in small groups. A good refuge space feels separate or unique from its surrounding environment; its spatial characteristics can feel contemplative, embracing and protective, without unnecessarily disengaging.

    The Refuge pattern has evolved from research on visual preference research and spatial habitat responses, and its relationship to [ P11 ] Prospect conditions. Refuge conditions are important for restoration experiences and stress reduction, which can be realized through lowered blood pressure and heart rate. In small urban parks, park size is less important than the ability to be immersed in the space with the conditions of enclosure leading to restoration e.

    In larger parks, the refuge spaces under trees, and in vegetation bordering an open space or meadow, are the preferred locations e. Though science has yet to establish metrics for frequency or duration of access to refuge conditions, the balance between Refuge and Prospect is suggested to be more important than the size or frequency of the experience Appleton, The primary objective of the Refuge pattern is to provide users with an easily accessible and protective environment — a smaller portion of a larger space — that supports restoration.

    The secondary objective is to limit visual access into the refuge space. In most cases, the refuge is not entirely enclosed, but rather provides some contact visual or aural with the surrounding environment for surveillance. The greater the number of protective sides, the greater the refuge condition; however, complete refuge — protection on all sides — is not necessarily the most appropriate or effective solution, as it does not maintain a relationship to the larger space. The traditional lean-to is a great example of basic refuge, as are a cozy bench seat in a bay window of the kitchen or a fireside inglenook.

    Refuge spaces take many forms, so understanding the context and defining the intended user experience will certainly influence design decisions. There are endless combinations of design elements that can create a quality refuge space that offers shade or protection from natural or man-made environmental conditions. Sitting with one's back against the trunk of a big shade tree is a classic refuge space, as is high backed booth seating in a restaurant, a reading nook in a library or school, a covered bus stop, or a wraparound porch.

    While the settlement provides a feeling of containment and protection from the arid climate and potential predators or enemies, the refuge experience is enhanced with characteristics of Prospect through its elevated position and views over the canyon. Mystery is the promise of more information achieved through partially obscured views or other sensory devices that entice the individual to travel deeper into the environment. A space with a good Mystery condition has a palpable sense of anticipation, or of being teased, offering the senses a kind of denial and reward that compels one to further investigate the space.

    Mindfulness in the Classroom

    The Mystery pattern has evolved from research on visual preference and perceived danger, as well as pleasure responses to anticipatory situations. Mystery engenders a strong pleasure response within the brain that may be a similar mechanism to that of anticipation, which is hypothesized to be an explanation for why listening to music is so pleasurable — in that we are guessing what may be around the corner.

    A quality mystery condition does not engender a fear response; the conditions that differentiate between surprise i. A good mystery condition could also be expressed through the obscuring of the boundaries and a portion of the focal subject i. Mystery characterizes a place where an individual feels compelled to move forward to see what is around the corner; it is the partially revealed view ahead.

    The objective of the Mystery pattern is to provide a functional environment that encourages exploration in a manner that supports stress reduction and cognitive restoration. Mystery conditions have their place among indoor and outdoor plazas, corridors, pathways, parks, and other transitory spaces. The sense of mystery can be diluted over time and with routine exposure; however, strategies that include revolving content or information, such as peek-a-boo windows into common areas where activity is constantly changing, will be most effective in spaces routinely occupied by the same group of people.

    This process of denial and reward, obscure and reveal is evident in Japanese garden design and various mazes and labyrinths throughout the world. The gardens at Katsura Imperial Villa, in Kyoto, Japan, make strong use of Mystery to draw visitors through the space and instill a sense of fascination. The strategic placement of buildings within the garden allows them to be hidden and slowly revealed at various points along the garden path, encouraging the user to explore further. In classic Olmsted style, many views throughout the park are obscured through the use of topography and vegetation.

    Key focal points in the landscape are revealed from stationary prospect points within the park. The focal points within the park trees, buildings, lake and meadows give the space a degree of legibility, but obscured views entice occupants to explore the space further, in order to understand it, which cannot be achieved in a single visit. One feels that it might be dangerous, but intriguing, worth exploring and possibly even irresistible. Risk can be generated by a learned or biophobic response triggered by a near and present danger. This danger, however, is inert and unable to cause harm due to a trusted element of safety.

    Having an awareness of a controllable risk can support positive experiences that result in strong dopamine or pleasure responses. These experiences play a role in developing risk assessment during childhood. The Levitated Mass at Los Angeles County Museum of Art is an enormous boulder that spans over a pedestrian ramp, and under which visitors pass.

    The balancing act is seems improbable, but the bracing provides some reassurance of safety, and visitors flock en masse to be photographed below the rock. A great example would the stepping stone path through the water feature designed by Herbert Dreiseitl at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin, Germany. It is building its own foundation and logical skeleton, upon which future growth can be supported. The science supporting biophilic design is still emerging. In many ways, it could be argued that the research is really just corroborating the rediscovery of the intuitively obvious.

    Unfortunately, too much of our modern design is oblivious to this profound knowledge. Deep down, we know that the connection to nature is important. So while empirical evidence is accumulating, we ought to go about restoring the human-nature connection in the built environment.

    Just to remind ourselves why biophilic design is so important, consider that in the 12, years since humans began farming and other activities that transformed the natural landscape Smithsonian, , only in the last years have modern cities become common. Within the last few years we became urban dwellers, with more people living in cities than in the countryside. With this shift, the need for our designs to re connect people to an experience of nature becomes ever more important.

    We hope "14 Patterns of Biophilic Design" helps shed light both on the importance of the human connection with nature that are supported by biophilic design. We encourage people to challenge convention by bringing biophilic design patterns into a vision for healthy homes, workplaces and cities. There is also evidence for stress reduction related to both experiencing real nature and seeing images of nature e.

    The Non-Visual Connection with Nature pattern is derived from data on reductions in systolic blood pressure and stress hormones Park, Tsunetsugu, Kasetani et al. The Non-Rhythmic Sensory Stimuli pattern has evolved from research on looking behavior particularly periphery vision movement reflexes ; eye lens focal relaxation patterns Lewis, ; Vessel, ; heart rate, systolic blood pressure and sympathetic nervous system activity Li, ; Park et al, ; Kahn et al.

    Heerwagen explained that evidence has shown that people like moderate levels of sensory variability in the environment, including variation in light, sound and temperatures, e. Early research showed that productivity is higher in well daylighted work places, and sales are higher in daylit stores e.

    The Prospect pattern is derived from visual preference research and spatial habitat responses, as well as cultural anthropology, evolutionary psychology e. Alcock, I. White, B. Wheeler, L. Alexandra Health Creating a Healing Environment. Singapore: June Alexander, C. Ishikawa, M. Silverstein, M.

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    Millennials will benefit and suffer due to their hyperconnected lives

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