Biophilic Design Can Benefit People with Special Needs
Episode #35: Biophilic Design: What it is? Why it matters? How it can benefit people with special needs
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Understanding Biophilic design with Architect Merilee Meacock: What it is, Why it Matters, and how it benefits people with special needs.
Biophilic Design is used in the building industry to increase occupant connectivity to the natural environment through the use of direct and indirect nature, space, and place conditions; connecting to people, plants, and animals through tactile, visual, and passive experiences to foster relaxation, focus, energy, feeling safe, and inspiration.
In today’s Purposeful Conversation, we are talking with an architect, Merilee Meacock, a leader in the educational design community. She has assisted large and small organizations to find new building sites, made recommendations for planning new campuses and designed improvements to make existing buildings more functional and dynamic. Merilee will explain how Biophilic Design can benefit people with special needs.
Here are some excerpts from our conversation with Merilee and why listening to this podcast can help you incorporate positive strategies into your child’s life:
Part of our work is research around the educational environment, special needs, housing, and autism. My newest research is around anxiety and how the environment can support all of those various aspects. As we do our research, we run across different people in the industry or in other industries where we trade notes on things, and biophilic design actually came through. People see that as a real benefit, not only to the special needs community but to humanity at large.
There is a human desire to connect to nature, it’s sort of in our DNA and there are cognitive, psychological, and physical benefits to connecting to nature. There’s a move in the design community to reconnect people back to nature.
It gives people a sense of inner calm and focus that they might need to either learn or to communicate with someone.
We use a sensory-based design where we design for all the senses: touch, sound, and smell. When you can appeal to all of the senses, those who may be missing one of their senses are able to still experience the architecture through other means. In nature, there are lots of opportunities to experience all of your senses with water being one of the strongest ways to do that. The sound of water trickling, the ocean, waterfalls or even little water features that you can put in your garden all contribute to the experience.
In this podcast, Merilee shares with us some of the amazing projects she has worked on and how Biophilic Design has been incorporated into buildings, pools, and other outdoor areas. An excellent example is what they did with The Bancroft School’s Mount Laurel, NJ Campus by providing very sensory-rich experiences on the campus, such as:
• Creating a car-free campus so students did not have to navigate through traffic
• Hiding fencing behind plants or allowing it to become part of the architecture to create a homey feel
• Creating a beautiful environment including open vistas and little rolling rivers
• Including a sensory trail both inside and outside of the building
• Incorporating gardens and gardening opportunities
Takeaways from this podcast:
• How Biophilic Design reconnects people back to nature.
• How Biophilic Design gives people a sense of inner calm and focus.
• Why Biophilic Design is used in combination with other design strategies – and how.
• Examples of Biophilic Design in projects, including school campuses and outdoor spaces.
• How to incorporate simple and inexpensive strategies into your home or classroom.
• What are some examples of Biophilic Design in everyday life and how it can help?
Being able to look out a window or being on a balcony, kind of looking out over nature – there’s a real benefit to that in a feeling of confidence and security. There’s a human desire to be inspired and learn new things and gain confidence and momentum.
Check out other strategies that you can incorporate right now in this podcast.
Links or articles mentioned in this podcast: