Biophilic Design: A Living Case Study at Phipps Conservatory, Pittsburgh

Sourced from the Living Architecture Monitor

When we think of green roofs, many benefits come to mind such as capturing stormwater, insulating buildings and creating habitat for wildlife. One other important benefit often overlooked is that green roofs can help satisfy our innate desire to connect with nature. This desire is known as biophilia, a term coined by Erich Frommin 1973meaning the passionate love of life and of all that is alive.

We currently spend an average of 90 per cent of our lives in buildings, so what happens in them can have a huge impact on our health and how we relate to the world. Unfortunately, most buildings isolate us from nature and the many diverse species thatinhabit planet with us. This is exacerbated by recent developments in communications technology.  When we go outside, we don’t have to walk far to see many people walking while glued to their cellphones. 

Biophilic design is an emerging practice that attempts to introduce connections to nature in the places where we spend most of our time -buildings. A comprehensive view of biophilic design was developed by the late Dr. Stephen R. Kellert, who organized a biophilic design classification system in six primary areas: 1) environmental features 2) light and space 3) natural shapes and forms 4) place-based relationships 5) natural patterns and process and 6) evolved human-nature relationships. 

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