Does Nature Have a Lasting Positive Effect on the Mind?

Sourced from Building Design + Construction

Intuition tells us that views of and exposure to the outdoors are good for the human mental state. In recent years, a handful of scientific studies—most notably Heschong Mahone’s daylighting in schools research—has provided AEC teams with important data to back up design decisions around daylighting, views, biophilic design, and a stronger connection with nature.

As a result of these early studies—and our improved understanding of the human mind—building owners and real estate developers have invested considerably to inject nature into their building projects. From hospitals to schools to office buildings, nature has become big business in new construction and renovation work. Landscaped terraces, rooftop gardens, nature meditation rooms, living walls, healing gardens, on-site parks, walking paths, therapy gardens—these are de rigueur in the modern built environment.

But how much “nature” is needed on projects? Is more always better when it comes to these features and spaces? And what types of nature-inspired design elements are most effective? Considering that these components often require special maintenance procedures and staff and ongoing operational investment, it’s important to explore these questions.

New research from King’s College London, published in the peer-review journal BioScience, sheds some light on the subject. It also provides a method by which AEC teams can assess the effectiveness of nature-inspired features.

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