Humans as the Part of Nature

The term biophilia comes from the Latin or Greek, bio-life and philia-love and the neologism was firstly used by the German psychoanalyst Erich Fromm in his work The Heart of Man: Its Genius for Good and Evil ( E. Fromm,1964) to describe a psychological orientation of being attracted by all that is alive and vital, however, its meaning was extended 20 years later by the biologist Edward O. Wilson in his book Biophilia (E. O. Wilson, 1984) where a real formulation of what appears to be a feature almost obvious, yet rather abstract, of the human psyche is produced: Edward O.

Wilson deepened its connotation and proposes the possibility that the deep affiliation humans have with nature and other living forms are rooted in our biology. He describes the term as ‘Biophilia is the innate tendency to concentrate our focus on life forms and all that remembers them and, in some circumstances, join them emotionally’ and “the rich, natural pleasure that comes from being surrounded by living organisms”.

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Wilson, therefore, does not allude purely to fascination, instead he suggests an essential need and an emotional bond with natural elements, a connection which is part of what he defines as “Web of Life” of which every man is a part, along with all other living beings. All organisms exist within connected and related environments bound together as integrated wholes or ecosystems. When the habitat functions in the best interests of the organism, the ecosystem performs at a level greater than the sum of its individual parts.

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The biophilic hypothesis popularised by Wilson suggest that humans possess an innate tendency to see and experience a connection with nature and other forms of life and affiliate to them in order to profit from its benefits ( which one ?) hence, human beings do not simply love the Nature, they are Nature themselves and this means that the quality of human life, its balance, mental health, and overall well-being all depend on the connection that humans maintain with natural elements.

Millions of years of evolutionary history has ensured that our history is intricately interwoven with Mother Nature, in fact our species has anciently evolved for more than 99% of their history in adaptive response to a natural world instead of the “natural habitat” of contemporary people which has largely evolved into an indoor-human-built environment where we now spend over 90% of our time.

This is when biophilic design comes to need: it has the fundamental goal to satisfy our innate need to affiliate with nature in modern buildings and cities and it is also seeking to connect our essential need to associate with mother nature in this modern built environment.

Subsequently, this is how biophilia encounters architecture and interior design and the current of Biophilic Design started shaping thanks to the support of the ecologist and sociologist Stephen Kellert who, after having edited a collection of essays in 1993 on the biophilic hypothesis together with Wilson, gave life to the current of Biophilic design formalising it in 2008 with the book “Biophilic Design: The Theory, Science and Practice of Bringing Buildings to life’’ (2008) also supported by further publications. Stephen Kellert went from a hypothesis to the definition of the characteristics and concrete elements capable of making every built environment, whether exterior or interior, public or private, closer to Nature and, therefore, more human-being tailored expounding 70 mechanism to generate a biophilic experience. Sadly, he disappeared in 2016 and he left a legacy now collected and developed all over the world from the most avant-garde designers.

The biophilic design is achieved through both direct and indirect experience of nature; the first are light, air, water, vegetation, animals, natural landscapes and ecosystem, weather, the second one includes images of nature, a natural colours palette, naturalistic shapes and forms, evoking nature.

It is important to realize that biophilic design is more than just a new way to make people more efficient by applying an innovative technical tool. The successful application of biophilic design fundamentally depends on adopting a new consciousness toward nature, recognizing how much our physical and mental wellbeing continues to rely on the quality of our connections to the world beyond ourselves of which we still remain a part.

Even though this is a quite recent approach to the design, being London one of the most avant-garde cities in the world, many new designs have been created adopting biophilic principles and a brilliant example of Biophilic design integrated into a reckless man-built environment is the Wardian in Canary Wharf, London’s new financial district.

The residential-led development combines modern architecture with innovative landscaping proposing a new standard for the high-rise living experience, which vison is to create a tranquil heaven of nature, peaceful and beautiful, erected into the frenetic London’s new financial centre and this was made possible by the distinctive partnership between EcoWorld, a Malaysian property investment company, and Ballymore, an Irish one, and the architect firm Glenn Howells.

The Wardian London offers an oasis of nature in the midst of Canary Wharf skyscrapers and waterways, the two modernist-influenced iconic towers are striking yet simple, refined yet ambitious and they comprising of apartments, each inclusive of an extensive private ‘sky garden’, restaurants, curated shops and stunning facilities and their design have been inspired by the work of the Londoner Nathalien Bagshaw Ward, a great explorer, botanist and inventor, who revolutionized the world with the creation of his botanical glass container: “the Wardian Case”. The dockland’s history prides one of the greatest innovators, Nathalien Bagshaw Ward (1761-1868), who invented a method of transporting plant life across vast distances using a tightly-sealed glass terraria, “the Wardian Case”, which allowed ships to preserve living specimens of exotic plants while preserving their ecosystem and his creation permitted scientist to study the far-away flora.

While contemporary renderings are a defining feature of Wardian, the influence goes beyond mere visible; the vision of Wardian is to draw inspiration from his curiosity, his explorer’s spirit of adventure and combine it with the modernists’ sense of precision and view on form.

In the Wardian London development his innovation is remade by using giant glass cases, garden sanctuaries, encountered throughout the building, which exhibit arrangements of various trees, plants and flowers from across the world.

The Wardian London sfoggia a lasting beauty embracing modern materials and minimal shapes of great elegance with a carefully choreographed balance between shape, function and form, the last are complemented by the organic, verdant shapes of nature making the Wardian an architectural triumph.

Multi-coloured hues of the building’s indoor gardens shift slowly and gracefully with the seasons. Natural fragrances prevalgono? within the two towers due to their beneficial effects on health and well-being and the Wardian London is the perfect place to enjoy/take advantage these effects.

The architects combined both biophilic’s and healthy’s design principles in one with the help of air-purifying plants, an abundance of natural light, aromatherapy forests, wellness and intelligent lighting designed around the circadian rhythm that energises in the morning and improves sleep in the evening and these characteristics together creates a “ vitamin nature space”. In order to carry forward these newly introduced researches on the benefits of the biophilic design and to make a contribution to them, they have commissioned a research study from the university of Essex designed to scientifically assets the impact on people mood and their productivity.

Being the design inspired by the history of Nathalien Ward and his Wardian case, they created a remarkable green house that resemble the famous case; it sits at the building’s feet, and the great addition if is a further demonstration? of the harmonious combination between biophilic and healthy design principles. A green space has been created where people can still benefit of the full effects of nature even being in an extremely dense urban environment.

Visitors are encouraged to visit the space even just to take a quiet hour with themselves away from their frenetic life, a brain-storming session or to have team meeting, they are also encouraged to turn off their phone in order to experience a complete digital detox and disconnect from technology while simply focusing on their senses and absorbing the space without distractions.

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Humans as the Part of Nature. (2022, Mar 25). Retrieved from

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