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A Biophilic City means what now?

Have you heard of this trendy term biophilic city? I hadn’t until I read about it on Hanging Garden’s website  which is a very informative website by the way.

Basically a biophilic city is an urban environment that is alive with more than just humans and their waste. It has a deliberate balance of trees, plants, birds, insects and other wildlife that provide surprising benefits to humans and everything else.

    1    Clean air to breath is the most obvious bonus I can think of.

    2    Tempered air with balanced humidity that feels fresher on your face.

    3    Better quality water from wells rain water is able to filter down through a giant natural filtration system that we call earth instead of being channeled out to sea.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a petrol head, drug dealer or high rise property developer installing tonnes of steel and concrete into our streets every day, no one is immune to the effects of a greener city. You know, how it makes you feel. How a good space affects your attitude has a surprising ripple effect for the rest of your day, if not week or forever after.

Serious people don't enjoy talking about fluffy-duck-type facts that cannot be quantified accurately but it’s no secret that humans used to live in the wilderness not so long ago. We seem to know more about an ideal habitat for goldfish than we do about our own human habitat.

It's more than enjoyment and air quality. There is something else that comes from being amongst the shade, smells and sounds of life… life, like animals, birds and insects . There is a better health in our minds, better understanding of the world beyond our selfish brains, and a better perspective to balance the daily chore of working in an economy that never gives you enough to live on. Think about that last statement. Why do we never seem to have enough? … that’s another topic altogether.

A biophilic city is a fancy term for what is more ecological… but “ecology” and “ecological” and “environmental” and “biodiversity” have lost their true meanings through overuse. Ecology is the natural balancing act that happens between soil, rocks, water, temperature, nutrients and all life forms; flora and fauna, even bacteria, fungi and viruses all have their crucial part to play in the balancing act. Ecology is a simple concept but in action it is so incredibly complex that us humans cannot replicate it or interfere with it without messing it up.  All we can do stand back and stop messing it up by covering everything in asphalt and concrete. 

To create a biophilic city with more biodiversity in an ecological system all we need to do is think about how we design our urban places. What to include in them so that ecology can use it as well as us.  Here are some examples. Permeable paving that allows water to flow back into the ground and prevent floods. Soil that sustains trees, plants, insects, and bacteria. Hanging Garden’s would want me to add ‘vertical gardens’ that clean the air, temper the air humidity and heat. Flowers that add delicious scents to the air and feed bees and butterflies who in turn convert blossoms into fruit and honey for us to eat. Trees that provide food for the birds who in turn keep insect populations in check. Insects, by they way, turn rubbish (natural rubbish not plastic) back into soil… so you can begin to see how this cycle is self sustaining. If only we could let it be that way everywhere.

Biophilic Design means less concrete, less asphalt, more consideration for ecology which leads to more life forms (biodiversity) and better lifestyles (for humans).  Yup, that about sums it up.

kirsten WilsonComment