Biophilic design is about the health and wellbeing of building occupants. So is universal design. Biophilic design is receiving interest in design disciplines, but buildings also need to be inclusive. Otherwise the biophilic aspects are lost.
An article by Andrew Heaton in Sourceable discusses some of the studies of offices, hotels, schools and other public buildings. Natural light, natural materials such as timber, and living plants make people feel better. Students study better and hotel guests appreciate the extra sense of comfort. And it goes beyond views from a window. Sounds of nature, textured material, direct sunlight, and natural patterns all have an effect.
It is no surprise that being able to look out at nature and water views effects wellbeing. If it didn’t, homes, hotels and offices would charge a premium for them. They are in demand because people prefer them, even if they don’t know why.
Nursing homes, not to be confused with retirement villages, are under the spotlight, and rightly so. Their design is showing how infection is almost impossible to control. With two or four people in a room and dated systems it’s time to re-think design. A FastCo articlehas some advice from experts.
An obvious start is for residents to have their own room within a cluster that has its own living and dining room. This is so any infection outbreak can be contained in the cluster. Private rooms also allow more flexibility for family visits.
In Oslo, a cluster of cottages allows care and socialisation in the form of an outdoor retreat. Also suited to enabling family visits. The article also discusses removing unhealthy building materials such as glues and paints that generate gases.
Progressive thinking about nursing homes and aged care is leaning towards housing that mixes all ages including children. While this doesn’t address infection control, it does build in socialisation opportunities. Perhaps this pandemic is a chance to stop and think outside the box.