What the heck is biophilia anyway?
Biophilia is a term made popular by Harvard University myrmecologist (someone who studies ants) and conservationist E.O. Wilson, to describe the extent to which we humans are hard-wired to need connection with nature and other forms of life. Many studies have proved the benefits we gain from regular exposure to green, living things. People who live in built environments need to access the benefits of nature and living things more than ever and the more we saturate our surroundings with concrete, steel and glass, the more we need to find creative and effective means for incorporating nature and living green lushness into our urban environments.
Whether we recognise it or not, our surroundings and especially green, natural surroundings, affect the way we feel, work, make decisions and recover from illness. Regular exposure to Nature, even sitting on a bench in a small park, triggers something innate and magical within us to give us tremendous benefits that ‘can have as profound an effect on your psychology as being immersed in a deep rain forest’… Colin Ellard.
Ellard’s research into how people respond to views of nature is drawing particular interest from city planners and architects who seek to combat nature deficient indoor spaces and use greenwalls to aesthetically ‘scrub the air’. With his colleagues, Ellard is working to discover 'what it is about those natural views that produces these marvellous physiological and psychological responses'. If well designed streetscapes featuring living vegetation can ‘nourish’ us, improve our emotions, memories and enrich our actions, greening our cities could directly improve our ability to make decisions and thus our overall performance as humans within the community.
Colin Ellard, is a cognitive neuroscientist who studies this relationship between place and mind and believes that “Ideally, within about a five-minute walk of where you live, you should be able to get to some view of nature.”……….For many of us, this is not too difficult but given today’s fast paced lifestyles and commuter routines, many of us don’t add this daily ‘dose of Nature’ to our row of vitamin pills, cholesterol and blood pressure meds.
SO… the next best thing we can do to support our innate need for Nature is to bring a daily dose into our own backyard or balcony with some sort of vertical garden or greenwall- the bigger and more lush the better. Your vertical garden or greenwall doesn’t have to be for food production, although that does put the radish on the salad, you can pamper yourself with the benefits of biophilic nourishment from a stunning wall of rustling green grasses, breeze stirred blooms or a dazzling mass of variegated foliage. If you don’t want to invest in a proper greenwall or vertical garden system, look around for old pallets, old furniture or anything that can hold a decent amount of soil and you’re on track to creating your own little dose of life sustaining elements and importantly, doing your bit to sustain our connectedness to Nature and the immeasurable benefits it affords us.