Integral to the Australian identity is our connection to and with nature. The great outdoors, with its vast landscapes and seascapes have become highly sought after. We have always been an eclectic group of people who have embraced our natural cultural diversity, from bush to beach, from mountains to the country and desert to rainforest. Our landscape is largely diverse, it holds something for everyone. As social creatures we crave that connection not only to each other but also to the outside world. Covid put a halt to our social and physical interaction, with Melbourne winning the title of the most locked down city in the world. When so many of us were forced to stay at home, we began to reach out for the very things we could no longer have. 2022 saw a big shift in building trends, a reflection of our experiences from lockdown. Buyers, home builders and homeowners have all sought to create more inviting and friendly places to live in. Alexander Supertramp McCandless once famously quoted that, “The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and diﬀerent sun.” There is a new found beauty in our encounters with nature bringing this aspect back to the forefront of how we want to live and design our homes.
Biophilic design is nothing new and can be dated back to hanging gardens of Babylon, which was once considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. In laymen’s terms biophilic design is incorporating the use of nature within the design of your home or building structure. Many home buyers are looking for homes that oﬀer this kind of indirect experience of nature through design. Having nurturing interiors where the spaces in the homes oﬀer alcoves, balconies, indoor gardens and skylights allow us to truly connect to the outdoors in. University of Chicago psychologist Marc Berman noted in his 2019 studies that, “Adults assigned to public housing units in neighbourhoods with more green space showed better attentional functioning than those assigned to units with less access to natural environments. And experiments have found that being exposed to natural environments improves working memory, cognitive flexibility and attentional control, while exposure to urban environments is linked to attention deficits” (Current Directions in Psychological Science, Vol. 28, No. 5, 2019).
Looking to create green spaces within our homes and choosing more natural material finishes within our homes spaces will help to create a better living environment. Many home buyers are gravitating towards natural tones and textures, like stone bench tops, timber floors and vanities, creamy white walls, and earthy browns, hanging gardens and potted indoor plants. Features walls within homes are still on trend with many people using textured materials on their walls to create more character like venetian plaster finish, cracked clay walls and lime wash walls.
Biophilic design encourages and incorporates an indirect experience of nature, which is achieved by including paintings or choosing natural finish fabrics like leathers. There is much to gain from this form of design and for those that may not have access to green spaces, there are simple ways to embody this design style into your homes no matter the size or budget, by making small cosmetic changes is in the realm of our reach. We only need to look to the outside world and bring it in !