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Welcome Home: Biophilic design adds dimension

Butch Elich
Special to the Daily
Special to the Daily
ALL |

I recently was told of the term “biophilic design” and after reading several Google suggestions, came across an article by Judith Heerwagen, Ph.C., and Betty Hase, IIDA, ASID, entitled Building “Biophilia: Connecting People to Nature in Building Design.”

One paragraph stood out. “Our sense of beauty evolved because it led our ancestors to seek out places that aided their survival and well-being. Appreciating natural beauty isn’t something that some people have and others don’t. It doesn’t need advanced education and training. It happens without effort or even conscious awareness.”

Preceding this paragraph, Gordon Orians, a researcher into habitat selection and its relevance to human environments, states humanity’s origins on the African savannah has left us with a barometer of what types of environments we find pleasurable. The key features of an environment that aids in our survival and well being include:

• A high diversity of plant and animal life for food and resources

• Clustered trees with spreading canopies for refuge and protection.

• Open grassland that provide easy movement and clear views to the surround.

• Topographic relief for strategic surveillance to aid long distance movements and to provide an early warning of approaching hazards.

• Scattered bodies of water for food, drinking, bathing and pleasure.

• A “big sky’ with a wide, bright field of view to aid visual access in all directions.

These elements provide humans with a sense of psychological, physical and social well being. This approach to design is fundamental to any success in approaching how we choose to live on this planet.

After pursuing a degree in interior design, I quickly found the construction industry didn’t reflect what I had been taught. It appears humans have separated themselves from the natural world. 180 degrees from what I had learned.

Upon hearing of American Clay plaster, I quickly took a workshop on how to install it. Eight years later, I am even more pleased with what the plaster can do for a room.

So why should you, as a homeowner, install this plaster rather than paint?

Your senses will explain easier than a lengthy explanation.

Your sight will notice how light reflects on its surface just as the sun lays on a canyon wall. Your ears will notice how sound is softer, less jarring as it is outdoors. Your nose will notice how the air in the room smells like earth. Your hands will be drawn to touch it, as if it is alive.

And though geophagy (eating dirt) is normal in the animal world, humans choose not to pursue it. American Clay walls may have your animal instincts rising to the surface.

For more information about Janet Elich and American Clay visit http://www.TheNaturalWall.com. To view her work in person visit Alpine Earth Center, 998 Blue River Parkway, Saturday and Sept. 24 from 1-3 p.m. at the healthy home open house or stop by and see the award winning “Aspen’s wall” in the Frisco RE/MAX conference room.

Welcome Home is produced by Butch Elich. Google him or visit us on the web at Elich.com. Janet Elich contributed to this week’s column.


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