Category Archives: Dispatches

Bringing the weather indoors #ophelia

Yesterday I spent the day in a weird world of weather.  Hurricane Ophelia barely touched Bournemouth, the seaside town where I live on the south coast of England, but what it did do was bring clouds full of sand from the Sahara Desert and dump some of it on my car.

It also filled the sky between me and the sun so, like many people across the UK, I passed the day in an eerie red-lit Martian world of dust and red light. Attached to this post is a picture of the view from my window that morning. It looks like the cover of a 1950s pulp SF paperback.  By noon the sun, still embedded in the pillow of dark sky, had turned deep deep orange We were all rather thrilled by this weather. We were physically safe where we were, but excited by this connection with something so much bigger than ourselves. What might this tell us in terms of biophilic design?

Continue reading Bringing the weather indoors #ophelia

Feel better without logging off

Excerpted from my new blog – read the whole page here

Nature is good for you (why technobiophilia matters)

“We are all made of starstuff”.  (Carl Sagan)

We know intuitively that nature is good for us. Those wonderful sensations of wind in our hair, sun on our face, cold snowflakes on our skin all need no explanation. They remind us we’re alive. That we’re part of the planet we live on. That our DNA contains the history of the Earth and perhaps even the stars too.

We know this in our bones. But, beyond a sentimental thrill, what evidence is there to explain why we feel such a powerful connection with nature?

Biologist E.O.Wilson has a name for this very deep emotion: biophilia. It is, he says in his book of the same name Biophiliathe innate attraction to life and lifelike processes. He first experienced it deep in a forest in Suriname, when  one day, all of a sudden, “in a twist my mind came free and I was aware of the hard workings of the natural world”. He believes that early humans survived by attuning themselves to their surroundings and ‘reading’ the behaviours of other creatures and landscapes around them. Then it was a matter of safety, food and survival, but even today, says Wilson, we remain deeply drawn to manifestations of life.

Architect Stephen Kellert agrees that biophilia was genetically encoded inside us when sensitivity to sensory signals was crucial to our survival. In order to stay safe, we needed to be able to read the messages conveyed by changes of light, sound, odour, wind, weather, water, vegetation, animals and landscapes.

Today,  our everyday lives are less dependent upon our physical surroundings but those sensitivities remain. They may lie dormant for a while until triggered by a signal from our bygone past, such as an encounter with animals, a visit to the countryside, even just the scent of a flower on a warm day. Suddenly we once again sense a glimmer of that ancient life in the wild. Biophilia connects us to nature.

Read the rest…

Happy 2016! Tips on how to adjust your technature balance #technobiophilia

nature-laptop-outside-macbook

Happy 2016!  

This is the year for taking some time to adjust your technature balance. Don’t know where to start? Here are a few tips for a technobiophilic 2016:

  1. Images of nature can reduce stress and slow down your heart-rate so choose new pictures for your desktop wallpapers and screensavers.  Trees, water, blue skies and flowers all work well.
  2. Treat yourself to something made from real wood to add to your digital life – a mouse, a keyboard, a smartphone case. Enjoy the organic warmth, much more restorative than plastic.
  3. Take a trip into virtual reality to explore VR forests, plains, desert and oceans. Second Life has a wealth of landscapes to explore. Pause your shootout in Grand Theft Auto to take scenic photos of the glorious mountain ranges. Treat yourself to an Oculus Rift VR headset and open up whole new vistas.
  4. Go outside. Choose a topic to learn about this year – the shore, hedgerows, birds – and take your smartphone with you. There are lots of apps especially created for the outdoors, so remember – there’s no need to log off if you don’t want to.
  5. And finally, read my book, of course! Try the first few pages …

Wishing you all the best for the coming year

Sue Thomas