What Are the Latest Trends in Biophilic Design for Commercial Real Estate?

April 15, 2024

Biophilic design is a concept within the building industry aimed at increasing occupant connectivity to the natural environment through the use of direct nature, indirect nature, and space and place conditions. It has been gaining immense traction in the real estate industry due to the mounting evidence of its positive impact on our health, well-being, and productivity. This article explores the latest trends in biophilic design, specifically within the commercial real estate sector.

Incorporating Natural Elements in Building Design

The inclusion of natural elements within the design of buildings is one of the primary ways that architects and designers are incorporating biophilic design principles into their projects. This trend goes beyond the traditional potted plants or green walls. Designers are now experimenting with different ways to introduce aspects of nature into the interior and exterior spaces of buildings.

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The use of natural materials like wood, stone, and water are becoming increasingly popular in commercial spaces. Whether it’s through the incorporation of wood panelling, stone countertops, or water features, these elements provide a touch of nature to the environment and also enhance the aesthetic appeal of the space.

In addition, there is an increasing trend towards creating green roofs and walls. This not only improves the aesthetics of the building but also helps in reducing the urban heat island effect, providing a cooling effect to the surrounding areas.

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Emphasizing Green Energy and Sustainability

A crucial aspect of biophilic design is the emphasis on sustainability and green energy. As concerns for the environment grow, property developers and owners are looking for ways to become more eco-friendly. This trend is reflected in the rise of green energy solutions such as solar panels, energy-efficient appliances, and LED lighting in commercial spaces.

Apart from being eco-friendly, the use of green energy solutions also helps in reducing energy costs, making it a win-win situation for property owners and tenants. Moreover, buildings that incorporate green energy solutions often command higher rents and have better occupancy rates, further underlining the economic benefits of this trend.

Designing Spaces that Foster Human-Nature Connection

Biophilic design is not just about incorporating natural elements or green energy solutions. It’s also about creating spaces that foster a connection between humans and nature. This involves the design of spaces that allow for natural light, provide views of nature, and create an environment that mimics natural conditions.

Designers are increasingly using large windows, skylights, and other architectural features to let as much natural light into the building as possible. Not only does this reduce the reliance on artificial lighting, but it also creates a more attractive and healthy environment for occupants.

In addition, commercial spaces are being designed to provide views of nature. This could be through the use of window placements that offer views of green spaces or water bodies, or through the development of gardens or green spaces within the property.

Incorporating Biophilic Designs in Urban Areas

Incorporating biophilic design principles in urban areas is a trend that is rapidly gaining momentum. Due to the high density of buildings and lack of green spaces, urban areas often face the problem of being disconnected from nature. However, architects and designers are finding innovative ways to bring nature into these spaces.

One way this is being done is through the creation of ‘pocket parks’ or small green spaces within the city. These parks provide a respite from the urban jungle and offer people a place to connect with nature. On a larger scale, urban planners are looking at ways to incorporate more green spaces within city planning.

The inclusion of green walls and roofs is another trend in urban areas. These not only provide a visual connection to nature but also help in reducing the heat island effect, improving air quality, and promoting biodiversity.

The Role of Technology in Biophilic Design

The role of technology in biophilic design is an emerging trend. From smart irrigation systems that conserve water to intelligent lighting systems that recreate natural light conditions, technology is being used to promote sustainability and enhance the connection to nature.

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies are being used to create virtual natural environments, especially in spaces where it’s challenging to incorporate natural elements. These virtual environments can mimic different natural settings, offering occupants a chance to escape from the concrete jungle, even if it is virtual.

Technology is also being used to monitor and control different aspects of the building environment. For instance, smart thermostats can adjust the temperature based on the occupancy and activity level in different parts of the building, promoting energy efficiency. Similarly, smart sensors can monitor air quality and adjust ventilation systems accordingly, ensuring a healthy indoor environment.

In conclusion, biophilic design is a growing trend in commercial real estate, driven by the increasing awareness of the benefits it provides. From incorporating natural elements to using green energy solutions, creating spaces that foster human-nature connection, designing urban spaces with biophilic principles, and leveraging technology, the approach to commercial real estate design is changing, creating more sustainable, inviting, and healthy environments.

Biophilic Designs for Adaptive Reuse Projects

In the realm of commercial real estate, adaptive reuse projects are becoming more popular. This process involves reusing an existing structure for a purpose other than what it was originally designed for. Implementing biophilic design elements in these projects has become a major trend.

When renovating older buildings, designers often face the challenge of limited natural light and lack of green spaces. This is where the principles of biophilic design can come in handy. By introducing natural elements and creating spaces that foster a connection with nature, designers can transform these structures into inviting and healthy environments.

For instance, an old industrial building can be repurposed into a modern office space by introducing large windows to let in natural light, incorporating green walls and roofs, and using natural materials like wood and stone. The original features of the building, like exposed brick walls or steel beams, can also be preserved to give the space a unique character.

Moreover, renewable energy features can be incorporated into these adaptive reuse projects. Solar panels can be installed on the roof, and energy-efficient appliances and lighting can be used to reduce the building’s energy consumption. Similarly, smart technology can be used to control and monitor different aspects of the building environment, ensuring energy efficiency and maintaining a healthy indoor environment.

The Future of Biophilic Design in Commercial Real Estate

Looking at the future, biophilic design principles are expected to continue shaping commercial real estate. As more research reveals the health and productivity benefits of these design elements, more businesses may be compelled to incorporate them into their spaces. In addition, as society becomes more eco-conscious, the push for green buildings and sustainability is likely to further drive the adoption of biophilic designs.

One future trend could be the widespread use of technology integration in biophilic design, as smart systems can help improve energy efficiency and recreate natural conditions. Another trend could be the increased use of virtual and augmented reality to create virtual natural environments in spaces where it’s not possible to incorporate physical natural elements.

Moreover, cities may see more adaptive reuse projects with biophilic design principles, as a way to preserve culture, reduce waste, and create healthier, more inviting urban environments. We may also see more urban planning initiatives aimed at increasing green spaces in cities, further promoting the concept of biophilic design.

In conclusion, biophilic design is revolutionizing commercial real estate, creating environments that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also promote health, well-being, and productivity. Going forward, we can expect to see more innovative applications of these principles, as the built environment continues to evolve and adapt to changing needs and challenges. As we strive towards a more sustainable future, biophilic design offers a feasible and effective approach, blending nature and architecture in harmony.