04 – Biophilia with Oliver Heath

We spend the vast majority of our lives indoors, but we evolved to operate in a very different environment: in nature. As cities sprang up, a distance grew between the bulk of humanity and the natural world; today, nature struggles to maintain anything but a token foothold in most urban environments. And as we commute from concrete apartment blocks to concrete office buildings, something is lost: our connection to nature.

Oliver Heath is an expert and leader of the exciting movement in architecture to re-establish that connection. He is an architect and interior designer who focuses on wellbeing in the built environment. Much of his work is in the new field of biophilic design.

Oliver joins me today to explain what biophilia is and how he embraces it in his designs. We discuss the crucial role that nature can play in designing homes, offices, and buildings and its effects on a building’s occupants. We discuss why Oliver believes the Industrial Revolution shifted the way architects designed buildings and homes and how COVID-19 has made people rediscover the importance of nature for our health and wellbeing. We discuss how biophilic design uses the five primary senses to create healthy, natural environments that support us and how technological advancements have helped architects integrate biophilia into their design process. Oliver shares the universal positives – and negatives – to consider when creating your own biophilic environment and how he addresses varying personal preferences when designing a building. He also shares tips for getting started with biophilic design and taking a multisensory approach when creating your environment.

“When we create that right balance of well-being and biophilic design in the built environment, it can have enormous benefits to the building typologies that are so important in our lives.”

Oliver Heath

This week on the Sound Business Podcast:

  • The ‘godfather’ of biophilic design and understanding what biophilia is
  • The three key aspects of biophilic design
  • Understanding the role that nature plays in our moods and how architects are beginning to integrate it into their designs
  • How the Industrial Revolution impacted the way architects designed homes and building spaces
  • How the COVID-19 pandemic helped people realize that spending a significant amount of time indoors can impact their physical and mental well-being
  • Common mistakes people make when they start focusing on biophilic design
  • The two primary approaches of biophilic design
  • How touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound play a role in biophilic design
  • How open-plan offices are having a negative impact on employee productivity and stress levels
  • How technological advancements have played a role in biophilic design
  • How Oliver considers personal preferences when designing environments for large groups of people
  • Common ‘universal positives’ the majority of people respond well to
  • The outcomes and effects of a biophilic design approach on building occupants
  • How ‘real’ does the natural environment you’re trying to recreate truly need to be?
  • Tips for getting started with biophilic design

Resources mentioned

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