Journal of Biophilic Design cover art

Journal of Biophilic Design

By: Vanessa Champion editor Journal of Biophilic Design
  • Summary

  • Welcome to our podcast series from the Journal of Biophilic Design, where we interview workplace consultants, futurists, interior designers, architects, urban planners and those working in healthcare, wellbeing and other industries to find out the latest on Biophilic Design.

    Content copyright Journal of Biophilic Design, opinions copyright the speaker.
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  • The Walls are Alive! The Beauty of Greening our Cities - inside and out.
    Nov 22 2023
    From designing a detailed picture of the New York Skyline in moss to how we need to design with biophilia for helping mitigate climate change this great podcast with Lily Turner explores how we are just starting to realise the very real benefits that Living walls can bring to our cities, and our work and healing spaces.  Lily Turner is an environmentalist, biophilic designer and living wall specialist. She's also director of green walls at Urban Strong, the design build maintenance firm offering services for green building technology solutions. In 2013, she co-founded urban blooms a non-profit to bring large scale, publicly accessible living walls to dense urban environments. It was after Hurricane Katrina she was rebuilding homes, restoring landscapes, repairing drip irrigation systems and fields and got to do a lot of great community projects and inspired her to launch urban blooms, which aims to bring greenery back into the built environment to benefit people in the community. We chat about sustainability, and how policy and regulation is needed to implement green spaces, an also how “new language and concepts need to be introduced. Sustainability has become rhetoric and clouded our view of the actual state of things in our products. So adding to our lexicon is also a major part of it.” Lily also advocates like we do, that it is vital to “break down silos when looking at the built environment. Adopting a more collaborative and holistic approach, is really the only way forward. If we look at Singapore's journey, I think it represents an actual a nice beacon of hope and their government's response should be seen as inspiring to the United States and other major offenders around the world.” Shifting our lexicon from just sustainability to regeneration will also shift people's behaviour and also create more awareness. As well as the political, we speak how Living Walls and preserved moss walls can be seen as striking forms of art, especially when you add a frame or incorporate colourful foliage, and how they offer a myriad of environmental, psychological and physiological benefits as well. Lily has been working with Biophilic Design for almost 10 years. It has to be the way forward, it has to happen. “I don't know how we're going to survive without it.”  We also discuss the practical benefits plants bring, from creating relative humidity, especially if they're of scale and how you just feel more relaxed.  When you bring that into a high stress environment, like an office or even a rehabilitation institution it is extremely important. “And I think we'll see this more and more as our healthcare system changes. And our education systems change as well.” Even a sightline view to the outdoors, we know there's significant benefits, you have reduced stress levels. Direct connection to nature is one of the most powerful of the Biophilic Design Patterns, being surrounded by something natural and green can boost productivity, enhance creativity and cognitive function, and ultimately that leads to increased sales so there's also ROI associated with that. “If people aren't sold on environmental or the aesthetic benefits, let's look at the ROI and try to push that conversation forward And then also just having a statement Living Wall in your lobby or office you're communicating this message of progressiveness and sustainability to your investors, your clients, your partners, everyone involved in supporting your company.” To find out more about Lily and her work visit: Her work features in our “Cities” issue of the The Journal of Biophilic Design, it is a case study of multi-sensory living wall that UrbanStrong installed in a corporate office in New Jersey. To buy a copy of The Journal of Biophilic Design visit our website or from Amazon. If you like our podcast and would like to support us in some way, you can buy us a coffee if you’d like to,thank you x Credits: with thanks to George Harvey Audio Production for the calming biophilic soundscape that backs all our podcasts. Did you know our podcast is also on Audible, Amazon Music, Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher, vurbl, podbay, podtail, and most if not all the RSS feeds?Facebook 
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    26 mins
  • The Wave - Connecting us to our Blue Mind
    Oct 10 2023
     Tying in with Issue 6, our Blue Mind edition of The Journal of Biophilic Design we speak with Nick Hounsfield, Founder and Chief Visionary Officer at The Wave in Bristol. The Wave is an inland Surfing destination.After working in the healthcare sector and realizing that not only one of the key aspects for people was that they were lonely but that they also were missing a connection to nature, Nick wanted to create something at scale that would have a positive impact. He also wanted to reach out to people who didn’t have access to a private healthcare system. “How can we democratise this? How can we make it more accessible for more people?” Nick explains how he went on to create The Wave. He had a very clear purpose and mandate, wanting to appeal to everyone, be accessible in all seasons and ensuring he addressed barriers to accessing to green and blue space. “We have to break down those barriers through design, through great landscaping, a good business model, and also make sure that we're not destroying the planet and local ecology either.”Roll forward 10 years, and they’ve managed to build it and deliver exactly what they wanted to deliver blue and green spaces for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. So what is The Wave? If you could imagine a huge slice of the ocean or imagine a really amazing Cove down by the beach. It's like taking that cake slice of the ocean and lifting it up and dropping it right in the middle of the field. There are absolutely perfect surfing waves, and lighter ones just as you get at the beach, and then you've got really nice whitewater waves on the inside for people who just want to splash and play around or bodyboard. The water is Caribbean in colour so also looks perfect. People come just to walk the pier which stretches out across the waves to enjoy the sound of the waves. Nick and his team have created a beautiful space where people can connect with water as observers or enjoy an immersive and active connection. Being close to the city of Bristol, partnerships were an important part of the vision. Working with groups who do not have access to green and blue space and who have mental and physical health issues, they bring them to the wave. By growing the adaptive surf community they have made sure that the whole space was designed so it is truly accessible. And with surfing now part of the Olympics we might see that surfing will also be part of the Paralympics. “We've now got the most amazing training facility for these athletes, and have genuine medal contenders in our midst so hopefully that whole sport will grow which is good.”“That's the key thing, really, it's about that partnership because we will never profess to know everything about the challenges and issues that different sectors of society have. So, it's about partnering up with people who do really know what's going on, and we're just providing a facility. We break down the barriers together.”Why is that nature connection important?“It's everything.” Nick goes on to describe how we felt that nature was taken away from us during Lockdown, and even now “there are young families stuck in high-rise apartments with no access to green or space blue space at all, they walk along a concrete road to get to school and it's a concrete playground, there's no green space there. And that is their life. That just doesn't feel like it's a healthy existence.” It’s important to democratize that open space, green space, blue space, “just having some horizons around us to be able to lift your head, lift your mind, lift your spirits. If you're surrounded by things that have been designed to encapsulate you the whole time, that just creates such a closed-minded spirit as well as an attitude. And I think that's a real shame, particularly for the younger generation growing up in that space.”We need to re-establish those connections that have been lost and look back historically when that connection was intrinsic. “We are not better than nature, we are nature. And actually, nature has got so many of the cures for our ills. And we have to be mindful of that and get back to promoting it, that being natural isn't some kind of woowoo but that it is something for the people.” This is where biophilic design comes in, “if we want something to be sustainable for the long term, to have real longevity, we need to go back to nature for that design brief.”What is it about Blue Mind?There is some really good research now that shows how Blue Mind, Blue Health really has a positive impact on physical and mental well-being. From being around water to being in water and experiencing that feeling when gravity is taken away from your body. There is also that penetration of blue, which reduces heart rate and cortisol levels it calms everything down.What about Surfing?“There is a sort of ebb and flow where you're doing something incredibly focused, particularly an activity where you have to be in ...
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    43 mins
  • Skogluft – Forest Air. Reconnecting people to nature
    Oct 3 2023
    Building on an earlier conversation we had in 2020 with a co-founder of Skogluft, we speak today with Morten Kvam, CEO of Skogluft. Not only does it sound beautiful and uplifting, in Norwegian it means “Forest Air”. We talk about how plants are essential to have in the built environment and how the main founder of Skogluft Bjorn Virumdal was a mechanical engineer and realised that biological models were needed to explain the effects of nature indoors. NASA had conducted some research on how astronauts would be affected by the lack of nature. After speaking with them to explore their findings Bjorn then conducted further scientific research to prove how different plants and different light affected people in different working environments. His research looked at three main aspects: the feeling of being awake, headaches and respiratory problems and he took readings before and after the intervention.  The results showed the positive effects of having nature indoors. Tiredness reduced by 40%, headaches reduced by 35% and concentration problems reduced by 16%. Morten says they have over 7.2kg worth of printed evidence that nature is good for us! There is evidence that plants in a room may reduce the dust level of the air, as found by Lohr and Pearson-Mims (1996). The dust content of the indoor air is often too high and might irritate mucous membranes in eyes and respiratory organs (throat, nose). When plants are healthy and are in your workplace, home, school or healthcare space, there is an increase in air humidity which may bind more of the dust, and as a result reduce some of the health complaints associated with dust (and maybe also pollen). The large leaf surface of plants probably promotes sedimentation of dust from the air, which will reduce the dust level. Just imagine if we place plants close to the computer – where both dust level and the level of static electricity is often high, we might see a reduction in irritations in respiratory organs.  This could be really useful in healthcare environments especially receptions and schools.  Feedback from users who have installed Skogluft say that one of the benefits is that acoustic levels really improve. They are also ideal in dentist waiting rooms, or anywhere you might feel stressed or anxious because the green walls create a feeling of calm. On the other side of the coin, there is a very large Skogluft wall in a library north of Oslo, who now want to implement it in all libraries in the city. We discuss how we could install green walls in university and study spaces. They have already installed many in the working spaces in Healthcare environments for the employees. If we think of all the halls, rest areas, outside treatment areas, receptions, and so on, there are many places we could implement green walls so many people receive the benefit.  Morten shared that the Skogluft Green wall is a best kept secret for one of the Norwegian football clubs who feel it gives them the advantage to compete and win games. It is important for that club to feel the vitality and life of nature, instead of the usual naked walls you get inside clubs.  The more plants you have the more positive effects you earn! For Skogluft, their plant of preference is the Golden Pothos, which research has shown that these are very positive and have a greater effect than other plants. One hypothesis is that they produce lots of chlorophyl per time unt per square inch. This is still a hypothesis, but it seems they are better than other green plants. Also they are very robust, look good, and are easy to maintain year after year. They survive even if you forget to water them for a week or two! We also talk about the importance of light. The positive effect of light reflecting on nature. “We are programmed to stay in nature, we have always been surrounded by plants and light together,” Morten says. “It makes people react more positively when we see light reflected on plants.”In his magic brush of biophilia, he says we should be looking to install nature everywhere, and “just like toilets are compulsory in buildings so should nature be compulsory nature indoors everywhere.” I think I’ll be sharing that last thought many many times. It’s straightforward and simple to grasp - nature should indeed be compulsory in every building. Skogluft creates living walls which are super simple to install and even has an app do you don’t kill the plants! We all have a choice when it comes to who we work with and the companies we represent. Morten tells us that while his background was not nature-based, he chose Skogluft because as a company they are making a difference to people’s wellbeing. To find out more about Skogluft: Have a listen to our the podcast we did with Stine Wettergreen way back in 2020 which this one today builds on that initial conversation!
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    28 mins

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