At the same time it is complex with many developing and at times diverse interpretations. The great potential however rests on the underlying theory, which was first developed in the fields of biology, psychology, and philosophy.
‘Biophilia’ means ‘love of life’
Theorists describe it as a biologically rooted, sub-conscious, and innate urge for humans to be connected to the rest of natural non-human living systems. It has been expressed as far back as the Greek philosophers.
In his 1984 book Biophilia, the eminent biologist and theorist Edward O. Wilson introduced the biophilia hypothesis and defined it as “the urge to affiliate with other forms of life”.
As a student I remember the excitement of reading these ideas and one very important moment in a final year seminar on the topic of ‘Design and Nature’. After long discussions with professors and peers, and presentations that demonstrated how perfected design in nature was, the day ended with the acknowledgement that the forces of evolution meant that even the best would again be improved with time.
This insight has continued to serve as a metaphor of the great potential in our design fields and, more importantly, the even greater potential in our students and young professionals.
Like so many topics, which only a generation ago were just the focus of a single class or seminar, biophilic design has expanded to become an entire field of design. At the same time students and young designers are engaging in greater numbers and developing expertise in the area. These new developments promise faster learning and offer the hope of more rapid generation of solutions that will make very real contributions to everyone’s quality of life.