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Big Homes: How Biophilic Designs Can Improve, Elongate Life Through Natural Living

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All over the world, the interest of humans is to live long to accomplish life’s aspirations, especially in a country like Nigeria.

Therefore, it is not a surprise to see many people investing in their over all well-being, including building homes with aesthetics and gimmicks that promotes health and bringing people closer to nature, with the use of biophilic designs.

Biophilia means love of life. Harvard biologist, E.O. Wilson, considers biophilia as the innate human need to affiliate with life. The biophilia hypothesis (also called BET) suggests that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life.

Research has shown that the spaces we inhabit have distinct physiological and psychological impact on us. Spaces with elements of biophilic design are more attractive.

Generally, the average human spends most time indoors and away from nature and buried in shelters of human making that have little to no elements drawn from nature. This is believed to affect users of space physiologically and mentally.

Advancement in technology today shows that less and fewer humans spend time connected to nature and this adversely affects our mood and health. This is why, today, more people have a sense of returning or reconnecting with nature and have started to make our living environments more natural.

As such, having elements of nature in a room space can help you create a living environment with clean air, which helps to reduce the disconnect with nature. It improves air quality by removing harmful pollutants and also stabilises humidity levels. Indoor plants have also been proven to reduce the symptoms of sick building syndrome. Plants produce a boost in mood and productivity, but they are also responsible for jacking up the quality of the air. Plants are natural air filters, removing carbon dioxide and releasing pure oxygen.

In driving the idea, Big Homes, Abuja real estate firm, has advocated for Nigerians to move towards natural habitat by building homes decorated with biophilic designs “in order to live long.”

Managing Director of Big Homes, Mr Topsy Essien in an interview with LEADERSHIP in Abuja, said biophilia has the effect of restoring health and bringing people closer to nature, hence the need to incorporate the designs in homes.

He said: “You can’t talk about human beings without nature. For humans to be comfortable in homes, we need natural things to survive. As you know, plants take in carbon dioxide and give out oxygen for humans to survive. Nowadays, our homes are so automated that nothing seems natural again. Our floors are made with tiles, our walls with blocks, everywhere is airtight with AC and all that. No flowers, stones, wood and other natural objects or things that remind us of nature.

“When I am tensed, I go close to flowers. For instance, outside our offices, we have green grasses, so I simply take off my shoes and walk around. It gives me that feeling of being closer to nature. In fact, our slogan at Big Homes is ‘green and healthy living’. We use biophilic designs for our architectural designs, but make them affordable to clients.’

Importance to environment

As species that evolved on the savannas of Africa, after which we later spread out to various parts of the planet with a substantial percentage of us living in urban areas, we spend more than 90% of our lives inside buildings. So, biophilic design is focused on bringing experiences of nature closer to us in built environments. Doing this can be achieved in various ways from the use of plants, water, daylight, natural materials, fractal patterns, and spaces that give the users and occupants of spaces views of the environment.

Benefits to humans

Biophilic experiences can reduce stress, improve cognitive function, and enhance mood and creativity. These and other outcomes can increase health and wellbeing, as well as productivity.

Future of biophilic designs

One of the trends we have observed is using biophilic design to support changing functions of spaces, such as hotel lobbies as workspaces, workspaces using elements of residential design, and other spaces like airports and transit hubs adopting guest experience strategies seen in hospitality design. We think that increasing biophilic design will be used to convey messages about a brand, and a signal about caring for building occupants.


Many companies are increasingly focused on improving the health and wellbeing of their employees, frequently through programmatic efforts like yoga, meditation, and healthier food offerings. Biophilic design is a strategy to support the health and wellbeing of everyone in the office through the design of spaces themselves. Different biophilic design elements support different outcomes, some help with stress reduction, others with cognitive function. Choosing the desired outcome can then help determine which design elements will be the effective.

Challenges, opportunities of incorporating biophilic elements in workplace

Similar to the early green building movement, there are concerns about the changes in first costs and the costs for ongoing maintenance of various features of biophilic design. There are opportunities for every workplace to incorporate biophilic design, whether it’s a small intervention like the art selection in an existing building or creating a space from the ground up that incorporates biophilic design throughout. With time, the challenges will begin to fade as more projects illustrate the scale of opportunities for biophilic elements and their value.

Biophilic design application

Evolving our connection with nature Biophilia—our intrinsic human connection with the natural world—continues to guide our design thinking and process at Big Homes. We are intrinsically linked to nature and the living world, so it makes sense that our spaces reflect these connections to foster health and wellbeing. Direct contact with vegetation, in and around the built environment, is one of the most successful strategies for fostering human-nature connection in design.

The presence of plants can reduce stress, improve comfort, enhance mood, and prompt healing. Through including indoor/outdoor gardens, we offer patients, families, and staff green spaces with native plants, walking paths, and a variety of seating, which—when woven together—create nature-filled spaces for moments of connection, reflection, and respite.

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