Tag Archives: biophilic 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!

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

Biophilic Design – the future of work/life balance

Earlier this week I attended Beyond Balance, a conference about work/life balance organised by the Balance Network at Anglia Ruskin University. We had some great talks and I came away with a notebook full of insights about the way work is changing. Inevitably, there was a lot of talk about the negative impacts of digital life on work/life balance, so I felt it my duty to evangelise a little about technobiophilia and technature balance. It all starts with biophilic design, and this post offers just a brief introduction to some of the ways we could use it to help work/life balance and move towards technature balance.

What is biophilic design?

Professor Stephen Kellert, one of the founding pioneers in this area, writes:

Biophilic Design is an innovative way of designing the places where we live, work, and learn. We need nature in a deep and fundamental fashion, but we have often designed our cities and suburbs in ways that both degrade the environment and alienate us from nature. (biophilicdesign.net)

Watch this video trailer to learn more.

Biophilic Design: The Architecture of Life from Tamarack Media on Vimeo.

Biophilic design in the workplace

You’ve probably seen examples of biophilic design all over the place without realising they’re part of a larger movement. Big corporations are investing huge amounts of money in biophilic workplaces featuring natural materials like plants, stones, wood, and water. Look out for walls festooned with hanging planters, indoor waterfalls, and zen gardens like the one featured in the hit TV series Silicon Valley.

A recent research report by Human Nature says that of the offices they surveyed, 47% had no natural light and 58% had no plants.  How does your workplace compare?

The top five elements that workers most wanted to see in their offices were:

  1. Natural light (44%)
  2. Indoor plants (20%)
  3. Quiet working space (19%)
  4. View of the sea (17%)
  5. Bright colours (15%)

The good news is that you don’t have to be a wealthy company to bring biophilic design into your workplace. Designers like Oliver Heath advise businesses of all size on how to bring nature into offices, homes, public places – anywhere where people spend time.

Technobiophilic Design

The next step beyond getting the relationship between nature and your offline workplace right, is integrating nature with your online life. That’s where technobiophilic design comes in; it connects our digital lives to the natural world so we can feel and perform better. This provides an intriguing challenge for developers, one which I outlined here in some detail. More about that in future posts, but meanwhile check out the growing collection of examples at my Pinterest site.