Modernism and Its Embracing of Biophilic Design


Architects are choosing to use Biophilic Design standards in their modern designs more than ever before. The idea of adding natural elements to a design has been around for decades, but the specifics of Biophilic Design call for much more connectivity with those who will be using the building daily. 

Employers are increasingly learning that workspaces need to be not only functional, but also provide a positive health element for their employees. This has seen designers increasingly being requested to infuse Biophilic aspects in their modern design. Biophilic design is much more than just adding a living wall in the middle of a lobby. This design style has 14 natural patterns that architects try to imitate using different building materials. Here are a few examples on how modernism is embracing different aspects of Biophilic Design today:

Plant Based Relationships

Modernism and Its Embracing of Biophilic Design

Pasona Group's Tokyo Office by Kono Designs

Biophilic designed buildings like the Pasona Group's office in Tokyo offer daily interaction with plants with an urban farm design. The building was completed in 2010 and offers many different plants in both the outside and inside parts of the building. Those who pass by on the street will see a living wall of flowers and trees growing from the special walls. Employees of the Pasona Group don't just have some potted plants in the corner but have extensive access to plants on multiple levels. Tomato vines hang above employees in conference rooms, and hydroponic plants line the walls of offices and common areas. Employees are encouraged to actively grow their own food and tend to their own plants in an effort to mix work with personal interests.

Natural Shapes, Forms and Patterns

Modernism and Its Embracing of Biophilic Design

Suites Avenue Aparthotel Barcelona by Toyo Ito

Biophilic Design integrates natural shapes and forms into a space. A good example of this is the new façade of the Suites Avenue Aparthotel in Barcelona, Spain. The outside of this building received a totally new design in creating a curved façade that looks like ripples of a river. The steel used for the façade bends and curves toward and out from the building creating a wavy look. Other uses of natural shapes and forms for modern buildings include Yale University's Interior Kroon Hall in New Haven, Connecticut. This building, which uses natural wood elements throughout, offers a curved roofline that mimics natural geometries. 

Light and Space

Modernism and Its Embracing of Biophilic Design

Genzyme Building by Behnisch Architekten

Incorporating light and space is an essential element of any modern design but Biophilic designs take it a few steps further. Take for example the Central Atrium of the Genzyme Building in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This breathtaking design welcomes the use of natural light into the space with many windows and glass walls while also using building materials that will naturally reflect the light around the space. Running water and live plants similar to xeriscape techniques are also part of the Biophilic Design making this building feel very open and easily accessible by those who use it.

Being able to combine these different natural design elements together is part of the challenge of Biophilic Design. Connecting those who will be using the building with different concepts like light and space coupled with incorporating living plants could be tricky. However, both modern design and Biophilia offer enough common ground that the two can magnificently work together. Incorporating Biophilic standards with modern design is a great way to not only create cutting edge design but also connect the building design and its inhabitants with nature. 

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