Biophilic Architectural Design

How to incorporate biophilia in your architectural design

Biophilic design started as an interior design trend, with its importance only becoming recognised within exterior and architectural design in recent years. Biophilia is about being connected to nature and strengthening the connection to natural environments from within a building. Statistics show a 15% increase in the wellbeing of employees in offices that follow a biophilic design. 

Modern holiday cabin with minimal sliding glass doorsOften following a biophilic design means using natural elements including plants and natural materials, to forge a connection with nature. The Vipp Shelter, a woodland cabin nestled in Scandinavian woodlands and referred to as the human charging station, uses a dark colour palette and oversized glazing to seamlessly merge with its surroundings. With the trend comes a whole heap of benefits, including enhanced productivity and wellness. Incorporating a biophilic design in commercial environments, particularly office or educational settings, will help create productive working environments.

Natural light is a huge element in biophilic design, allowing body clocks to be in tune with the natural pace. Using an oversized style of glazing to create highly glazed commercial spaces allows the maximum amount of natural light to be gained. Our Livingstone House project uses structural glass and minimally framed glass sliding door systems to create an indoor-outdoor space, with clear panoramic views. Adding glazed elements like rooflights or floorlights encourages the light to flow further into the building, ensuring brightly lit spaces are achieved in every part of a build.

minimal glazed spaceCommercial spaces striving to achieve a biophilic design should consider opening elements to ensure internal spaces are highly ventilated. Incorporating ventilation in the design improves the functionality of a build as well as following a biophilic design. An opening rooflight can be used in commercial spaces and a fully automated system offers the ultimate functionality.

The MARS is designed to make bold design statements in commercial settings, offering opening rooflights in large sizes where rooftop access is desired. For a high rise building with a rooftop terrace, opt for the MARS system. The modern automated system slides to reveal roof access, at the click of a button. The automated systems have optional integrations to suit each project’s individual requirements, including an integrated weather sensor to ensure the rooflight closes when rain is detected. The dining room at Gravetye Manor uses this system, bringing with it an abundance of natural light and masses of ventilation.

Frameless glass automated rooflight

If rooftop access is not required but ventilation is, the ARES is another great option. Automatically offering ventilation to spaces below, the ARES would be perfectly suited to kitchen and restaurant environments where there are a lot of smells or fumes.

To make a dramatic design statement and push architectural boundaries, opt for a retractable glass roof. The complicated structure of a retractable roof is made to look easy using our Invisio structural glazing system alongside mechanical motor systems. If indoor-outdoor seating areas are desired, this can be easily achieved with the click of a button offering flexible options to the area below.

Decorative GlassBiophilic design can also be achieved through decorative elements, including glass. Glass units can incorporate natural elements and be used to forge a stronger connection to nature through the use of internal glazing. Internal glazed elements can include decorative interlayers with complicated designs for a unique finish. Printed flowers or other elements of nature can be printed within these interlayers to capture the essence of the outside, introducing nature to living spaces and adding an elegant touch. Coloured interlayers can also be used to achieve different colours within the glass, for example, green could be incorporated in the internal glazing to represent nature.

Winter Garden Rooftop BoxPerhaps the truest definition of bringing the outside in, a modern wintergarden can quite literally bring nature into a dedicated area of a building. We know that residential developments require a certain amount of amenity space, and what better way to offer amenity space than an indoor garden? Offices and other commercial spaces can also incorporate winter gardens into their designs, adhering to building regulations whilst following a biophilic design for beautiful, innovative results.

Similar to a Wintergarden, internal courtyards physically bring nature within a building. Central courtyards, encompassed in sliding glass doors, are sure to make a dramatic design statement in a commercial setting. Often nature has a calming presence, therefore including a central courtyard with trees or plants can encourage wellness and serenity in these buildings. IQ can design truly unique central courtyards, whether natural light or clear views are your priority.

modern restaurant with steel framed glass walls and windowsVilla Welgelegen uses plants throughout the steel framed building, connecting the restaurant guests to the outside environment through both the use of plants and minimally framed glazing systems. Choosing a mixture of elements to create a biophilic design is imperative when following this trend, to ensure you gain the maximum effect.

Biophilic design is not a new trend, nor is it going anywhere in the future. Having natural light and a connection to natural environments will continue to be important in modern architecture for decades to come.


natural light infographic explaining the mental and physical benefits of natural light

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Carly Coren

As a Senior Marketing Executive, Carly is an integral part of the marketing team at IQ. She studied marketing at university before putting her knowledge into practice within the glazing industry. You will find her working on social media campaigns or writing content for the websites. 

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