Technology has brought biophilic design principles into glass and glazing systems. Biophilic designs integrate nature’s forms and patterns into buildings. These designs can incorporate natural elements such as light, air, water and plants, as well as nature-inspired images, colors, simulations and naturalistic shapes.
The main purpose of a biophilic design is to simulate nature and incorporate daylighting strategies to connect building occupants with the outdoors.
John Rose, the director of marketing for FGD Glass Solutions, says he has seen an increase in the use of biophilic designs in glass, such as adding stone textures for columns and wall cladding.
Decorative glass is an option that designers can use to mesh nature and the built environment. It comes in various forms, including digitally printed and interactive glass.
To incorporate natural designs in glass, manufacturers can use several processes, including digital printing. Though a relatively new method, digital printing has evolved to include better resolution, faster printing speeds and different types of prints, such as textured features.
Kevin Roth, founder and CEO of Privacy Glass Solutions, says that as the digital printing process has improved, he has noticed that customers want more detailed biophilic properties.
“It’s now more about lively colors and pictures,” he told USGlass magazine. “They want more scenery and colors that blend in with the environment. There’s also definitely more movement wanted these days.”
Biophilic design techniques also include using glass to harmonize the outdoors with a building’s interior. Moveable glass walls expand living spaces and introduce abundant light to a poorly lit room. The walls offer various incentives for building occupants, including increased light, better views and improved ventilation and versatility.
The push for more natural features in glass comes as research links the practice with improvements in occupant happiness and well-being. In fact, a paper by University of Oregon researchers found that increased access to windows, daylight and views of nature facilitates healing in healthcare facilities. The paper cites research by Peter Kahn, who compared subject responses after they viewed a blank wall, a window with a vegetated exterior view and a plasma screen displaying the same live exterior view.
Kahn found that “viewing the window improved heart-rate recovery from a moderate stressed state, while physiological responses to the ‘plasma window’ were no different from those experienced by users viewing the blank wall.”
He concluded that simulated views could not replicate the physiological responses to daylight and views. That’s because glass connects occupants with nature, improves well-being and promotes sustainability.