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Does Belconnen real estate use enough biophilic design?

By Ben Faulks

We like to think we're a pretty lean, mean, green lot in Belconnen real estate. Environmentally green, that is. There are plenty of parks, loads of plantlife and even Lake Ginninderra right on the doorstep. Even the Canberran law courts are going for a five star green rating from the Green Building Council of Australia.

So, when we're surrounded by this environmentally-geared urban landscape, why haven't we let all that green into our homes?

This kind of environment is brilliant for stress levels.

Bio-what now?

Biophilic design, defined by the aptly named biophilicdesign.net, is a concept that integrates natural elements into the very way we use the places we work, live and learn. Environmentally-friendly design, while an excellent step forward, has "accomplished little in the way of reconnecting us to the natural world". 

It is less to do with being good to the environment, and more to do with letting the environment be good to us, both psychologically and mentally.

What can it do?

More well-being, higher creativity, more concentration, what's not to like about biophilic design?

It may seem a little wishy-washy, but there have been several studies proving the efficacy of biophilic design. According to a Human Spaces study powered by Interface, people who worked in an office with biophilic elements had 15 per cent higher levels of wellbeing, were 6 per cent more productive and 15 per cent more creative.

Do you find yourself drifting off by the end of the day? Who doesn't, but biophilic design could help you beat back the goblins of distraction. According to research from the Journal of Environmental Psychology, a mere 40 seconds of looking at a vegetation-covered roof in an urban environment improved concentration ability. A similar 40 seconds of staring at a plain concrete roof remarkably did nothing for the participants.

More well-being, higher creativity, greater concentration, what's not to like about biophilic design?

How can Belconnen residents use it?

The great thing about biophilic design is just how easy it is to implement. Simply putting potted plants and other foliage in a room can improve your cognitive function, according to a journal paper published by the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. 

You could also install skylights in order to allow in more natural light (which would also save you money on electricity!), open up your doors to allow a cool breeze through (great in the summer heat too), or even simply just take yourself outside. Even if you are working, take a laptop. It is portable after all.

The next time you find yourself sitting in an urban environment, gazing out of the window of your Belconnen apartment, just remember: nature doesn't have to stay outside.

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