Sunday, April 17, 2016


"It's not just 'green,' it's biophilic," one of the interviewees points out during the interesting documentary, BIOPHILIC DESIGN: The Architecture of Life. What's the difference? you may ask, if you, as I, have not heard this term before. Well, as another speaker explains a bit later in this hour-long documentary, this would include using materials obtained from nature, evoking nature via forms and patterns, or bringing nature in via ornamentation. I find that last one a bit suspect: Having a the form of a tree carved into your column, say, is a lot different than actually planting one inside your home. There is a certain amount of what we might call "blather" included in the doc: repetition of thoughts and ideas that begin to sound a bit "canned."

Yet human beings' need for contact with nature and having our architecture designed around that need is clearly important. So hearing from Stephen R. Kellert -- shown above, who wrote a book on this subject and is, along with co-filmmaker Bill Finnegan, responsible for this new documentary -- proves more than worthwhile.

We also hear from other notables on this topic (biologist, naturalist and author Edward O. Wilson, shown two photos below, among them) and see a wealth of examples of this kind of architecture, as well as hearing about the difference this sort of design can make on its residents, workers and even the good old "bottom line." One doctor talks about the lessening of employee turnover, as well as the positive reaction of hospital patients, while another interviewee notes the rise in students' comprehension and learning using this new world of architecture.

You'll get a few surprises along the way, too. Of course you'd imagine Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water  (above) as supreme biophilic design. But who'd have thought that New York City's Grand Central Station was an example of this idea, too? As another speaker notes along the way, "When we set out to build The Leopold Center, our goal was to build the right building in the right place for the right reason using the right materials. That's what biophilic design is all about."

From Bullfrog Films and distributed here in the USA via Icarus Films, the documentary becomes available this Tuesday, April 19, on DVD -- for purchase, of course, but I would also hope for rental, too, in order to reach a wider audience. My granddaughter, who just turned eleven, has expressed interest in architecture as a field of study. When she get a few years older, I'd love her to be able to see -- and be influenced by -- this short film.

No comments: