Category Archives: Technobiophilic design

Biophilia for patients and visitors at the Khoo Tech Puat Hospital, Singapore

Khoo Teck Puat Hospital
Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, Singapore

This week I’m in Singapore as a Visiting Professor in the Biophilia Research Cluster, based in the Department of Psychology at James Cook University. I’ve seen dozens of fascinating examples of biophilic design here, but this post is about just one of them – the incredible gardens at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.

It’s a general and acute care hospital which opened in 2010. Laik Teng Lit, its CEO, commissioned a design which lowers stress levels and helps patients and visitors to relax in what can so often be a naturally very anxious situation. The result is an astonishingly vibrant environment with dense plantings, water features, and carefully designed natural materials across the six floors of the building.

Khoo Teck Puat Hospital
Khoo Teck Puat Hospital

The hospital is keen to engage its visitors in auditing the wild inhabitants too, so it records all the many different birds and butterflies spotted on the site.

Some weekends there are free classes in yoga, tai chi, and meditation which are open to the public and take place next to the groundfoor waterfall amidst a biophilic riot of colourful plants and foliage.

And there’s another added extra. A rooftop organic community garden is cultivated and managed by local residents who grow a stunning variety of fruits and vegetables. Some of the produce is given to patients and some is sold to pay for the upkeep of the space.

Fig Tree at the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital Rooftop Garden
Fig Tree at the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital Rooftop Garden
Vegetable Beds at the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital Rooftop Garden
Vegetable Beds at the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital Rooftop Garden

Coincidentally, this week The Conversation featured an article about a rooftop garden project at a church in Sydney, Australia. This one was designed for patients recovering from mental illness, but the principles  remain the same – stress reduction, wellbeing, and general health benefits.

Giant melon in the Vegetable Beds at the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital Rooftop Garden
Giant melon at the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital Rooftop Garden

At Khoo Teck Puat we were told that members of the community are encouraged to spend time in the hospital’s social spaces. In other words, you don’t have to be sick to go there. And indeed, many students take their laptops and study amongst the flowers, whilst older people and families also regularly go to the hospital just to chill out and relax!

This is the first report on my Singapore visit. More to follow.

Amazon’s growth on full display in greenhouse where exotic plants are raised for its Spheres – GeekWire

It’s no secret that Amazon knows how to grow a business, based on what the company has achieved over its almost 23-year history. But how does the tech gian

Source: Amazon’s growth on full display in greenhouse where exotic plants are raised for its Spheres – GeekWire

Can you sense where north is? These people can.

Whenever I spend time in the USA  or Canada I’m always intrigued by the way they use compass points for directions. “Go north three blocks, then east two blocks,” helpful people tell me. They assume I know which direction north is, but I don’t have a clue. In the UK we’ve never located ourselves that way. I’m always baffled at how North Americans  actually know which way east or west is. I’m aware it’s often written on street signs, but I’m sure that people are deeply familiar with it in their own neighbourhoods. To me, it seems like a magical sixth sense.

But now I, too, can know where north is. Not just know it, but feel it. Liviu Babitz and Scott Cohen, co-founders of Cyborg Nest, have developed North Sense, “a miniature Artificial Sense, vibrating each time it faces the Magnetic North. Your North Sense will not depend on an internet, it’s a standalone artificial sensory organ, coated in the highest quality body-compatible materials”.

It sounds very exciting: “Our New Sensory Organs take inspiration from animals and nature. Designed by world experts, they require minimal invasion into the body. Once attached, a whole new range of experiences and emotions are unlocked.”

Josie Thaddeus-Johns  met the pair, and saw North Sense in the flesh, as it were. She described how Liviu Babitz opened his collar to reveal a small silicone gadget, the size of a matchbox, attached to his chest with two titanium bars that sit just under the skin. Most resembling a compact bike light, the North Sense that Babitz has attached is an artificial sense organ that delivers a short vibration every time the user faces North. Her article is long, intriguing and well worth the read. Find out more at The Guardian.