Select location and language
Select location
Ubicación global
ACTIU Berbegal y Formas, S.A.
Talking to Anna Ferrer about Biophilic Design

Talking to Anna Ferrer about Biophilic Design

SEPTEMBER 2023 | 3 minutes

"Biophilic design is a way of designing places where we can live, socialise, rest and work in a way that satisfies our deep and fundamental need to be connected to nature."

We talked to Anna Ferrer, AP WELL Architect and specialist in biophysical design. In 2007, Anna Ferrer left her professional career as an architect in large studios to focus on architecture projects focused on people, which is why she ended up setting up her own studio, together with some colleagues, CU4 Arquitectura. Anna has a special sensitivity for the well-being of people and the planet, which is reflected both in her designs and in her lifestyle.

What is biophilia?

Biophilia is a concept popularised by Edward O. Wilson in 1984 with the publication of his book Biophilia: The Human Bond with Other Species. In it he describes the innate relationship between humans and nature. It has to do with our need to be connected to nature.

From this point on, there has been an abundance of research confirming this human preference for nature, as opposed to built environments. One of the best known is “The role of nature in the context of the workplace. Landscape and Urban Planning” carried out in 1993 by the environmental psychologist Rachel Kaplan of the University of Michigan.

Some studies also confirm that being connected to nature is an adaptive human function that enables and aids psychological restoration.

The United Nations predicts that by 2030, more than 60% of the world's population will live in urban environments. It is therefore imperative that we look at how we will provide them with the necessary connection to nature.

What is biophilic design?

Biophilic design is the response to the human need to have a connection with nature and works to re-establish this contact in the built environment. It is a way of designing places where we can live, socialise, rest and work in a way that satisfies our deep and fundamental need to be connected to nature.

Basically, in the words of Yale University social ecology professor Stephen Kellert, biophilic design is the theory, science and practice of creating nature-inspired buildings for the purpose of continuing the individual's connection to nature in the environments where we live and work every day.

"We are at an exciting time in the history of design, where modern science is informing us about those choices that enhance the human experience within a work environment" - Bill Browning, Founding Partner of Terrapin Bright Green, and one of the foremost thinkers and strategists in the green building industry.

What is the global impact of biophilic design in the workplace?

In a study published by Human Spaces in 2015, a total of 7600 employees from various positions and sectors were surveyed in 16 countries around the world (UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, United Arab Emirates, United States, Canada, Brazil, Australia, Philippines, India, China and Indonesia).

In this study we found the 5 design elements most valued by employees. These were the most voted:

  • NATURAL LIGHT - 44%.
  • INDOOR PLANTS - 20%.
  • SEA VIEWS - 17
  •  VIVID COLOURS.- 17%.

The same study showed that the overall office landscape today is very different:

❌ 47% have no access to natural light. 

❌ 58% have no floor plan

And what impact does the workplace have on workers' perceptions?

One of the most crucial findings to emerge from the analysis of this global study is that one-third (33%) of all respondents indicated that the design of the workplace affected their decision to work for a company.

As the authors point out, this data further confirms the role that biophilia plays in employer branding, a growing area of focus for companies competing for talent.

Workplace design has a definite impact on how an organisation is perceived by employees. For organisations with ambitions to be market leaders and compete for the most valuable employees, biophilia can be a clear differentiator.