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Architecture and design that take care of us through nature

Architecture and design that take care of us through nature

OCTOBER 2021 | 3 minutes

Converting living, leisure, educational and work spaces into allies to our health is a need that COVID-19 has shone a spotlight on. If, until recently, few people considered the effects that elements such as light, acoustics, colour, nature, morphology or the layout of these spaces had on their occupants, now it is a matter that concerns everyone.

Almost two years after the outbreak of the pandemic, we are still living in a situation of uncertainty, combining presential work with hybrid models and remote working. If one thing has become clear, it is the influence that closed spaces have on the health of their inhabitants.

Lockdown and the changes in our life and work habits brought about by COVID-19 have revealed the influence that closed spaces have on our health, where the current population spends between 80-90% of their time. Neuroarchitecture, a discipline that is relatively unknown in Spain and whose creation is attributed to the American virologist Jonas Edward Salk (1914-1995), has been studying how built spaces affect people's emotional state and behaviour since the 1960s.

Biophilic design is a fundamental part of this discipline, as a tool for connecting with the nature that cities have turned their backs on for years and are now seeking to reconnect with. However, it's not just about incorporating colours and elements such as water, vegetation, natural light or botanical silhouettes, but about creating spaces that convey the visual, tactile and auditory emotions of the natural world; and sending a healthy and sustainable message to its occupants.

Less visible but just as important aspects such as the golden ratio or fractal design are other aspects of the natural world that architecture can artificially replicate to active positive parts of the brain.

Talking about sustainable architecture and design does not only consist of incorporating solutions and materials that guarantee low or close to zero CO2 emissions into the environment, but also involves the constant search for the improvement of people's health and well-being. Little by little, nature has abandoned its role as a decorative element added to already finished spaces to become a construction and design tool.

Curved shapes in reference to the natural world, lighting that reproduces the circadian rhythm, high ceilings that spatially "deceive" the mind or textures and colours that awaken certain emotions, are just some of the tools with which biophilic design and architecture seek to return people to their most natural essence.

The increasing connection to technology and disconnection from the natural world of those who live in contemporary cities makes it essential to incorporate this biophilic design at all scales, from the most domestic environments to large buildings for public use.

Post-lockdown spaces and architecture in a world still marked by uncertainty, which find in nature a model to follow, both for its capacity for change and constant adaptation, as well as its multidisciplinary and collaborative nature that never ceases to reinvent new relationships. Just as the plant environment responds to a certain environment and stimuli, so must these new spaces, which have already abandoned their globalised image to provide a personalised response that looks after their occupants.

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