Friday, February 3rd, 2023 09:56:41


By Viral Desai
Updated: December 6, 2022 2:03 pm

If I say that the responsibility of physical and mental health of the coming future is in the hands of architects, then everyone will be surprised that how can architects improve someone’s physical-mental health? And not only that, I would say that the responsibility of protecting the environment in the future is also to be done by the architects. Because the time to come is for ‘biophilic designs’ and only through biophilic design we will be able to protect the environment and take care of the health of all of us.

Now, first of all let us understand about biophilic design. The gift of the term biophilic has been given to us by the field of psychology, where the term ‘biophilia’ first came into vogue. Biophilia or biophilic simply means human being closer to nature and enjoying different forms of nature, because man is originally a creature born from nature. At a time when humans are alienated from nature, or if they do not value the cultivation of nature, then both their lives and this earth will become hell for them. And in some cases, we are just now seeing that today people struggle with lack of inner peace even though they are enriched in every way. A lot of people do not have access to pure air to breathe and even struggling to have good health.  At a time when biophilic design has become an urgent need of the day both from the point of view of human health and nature conservation. The designs that will take us away from the artificial world and bring us back to live in the real world. In construction and architecture, ‘biophilic design’ focuses on natural light, air, water, plants, biodiversity, sense of natural environment and natural landscape. If we look at it in this way, in this design, the way in which there is talk of giving importance to the Panchamahabhutas in Indian architecture, the things covered in this concept. So that man can live pollution free and give priority and scope to biodiversity in his urban area.

Currently, biophilic designs are used in many places in the world. But the most successful experiment of these designs has been in Singapore, where many corporate buildings and hotels from Singapore’s Changi Airport have created a wonderful balance between human and nature through biophilic design. Currently, if any biophilic design is to be called the most unique commercial place of hospitality then that design also goes to a hotel in Singapore. The hotel has also given the concept of hospitality with sustainability to the whole world. The hotel in Singapore is Parkroyal, which is a high-rise hotel with an urban garden of fifty different varieties of plants in an area of 15,000 square meters. Sunlight and natural light are emphasised throughout the hotel for energy savings, which has led to an emphasis on plant species ranging from vines or large-leaved shrubs to shade trees. All these trees are oxygen bombers, but equally important for biodiversity. This greenery in the hotel absorbs heat from the atmosphere and improves the air quality immensely. Interestingly, all this greenery has also been maintained using sophisticated methods, including auto-irrigation and fertigation systems. So, there is no unnecessary wastage of water or electricity.

In order to maximise the use of sunlight, the roof and walls of the hotel have been made of tempered glass. The bulbs and lights have also been selected in the same way so that the guests staying there will not feel anything unnatural and it will have such a feel-good factor that they are constantly in the midst of nature. The air quality of the entire hotel is very good with more than fifty species of plants and trees planted here, while passing through the corridors of all the floors of the hotel, one gets the feel of a dense forest, which has a very positive psychological effect on the mind of the guests. This combination of natural air and light and real plants is also kept in all the rooms of the hotel.

As we said earlier, biophilic design is not only limited to human health, but this design is equally important for nature and environment conservation. The case study that we have seen regarding this design of nature conservation in Singapore’s Parkroyal hotel is very good. The hotel has installed high-performance 262 glass solar panels on its roof, due to which the hotel itself generates 350 kilowatts of clean energy. One figure even says that Parkroyal generates as much energy as is used by eighteen Singaporean households! To top it all off, the hotel uses high-quality glass throughout, thereby eliminating the UV rays and heat of the day and allowing adequate light to flow into the corners of the hotel. Photosensors have also been placed in the hotel to maintain light. Fluorescent lamps, LEDs and T5 have been used throughout the hotel, so that energy is not wasted unnecessarily.

The whole world is suffering from the terrorism of single use plastic. And all the countries of the world are looking for alternatives to single use plastic. But single use plastic is nowhere to be found in this hotel’s campus. Also, a fantastic replacement and alternative of plastic water bottles has been made in all the guest rooms. Here, 3M water filter dispensers are kept in every room as an alternative to single use plastic. A significant sustainable alternative to otherwise generation of 3,60,000 plastic bottles and carbon used as they will be produced and destroyed every year.

For their bathtub, sink or flooring they have used recycled granite. Low-flow water management has been done so that guests cannot waste water even as a mistake. In the shower, where normally 27 litres of water flows in one direction in one minute, in Parkroyal only 9 litres of water flows thus saving enormous quantities of water.

Parkroyal also excels in rainwater harvesting and has taken significant steps towards nature conservation. If not all of these, but even a few measures are adopted by the Indian real estate industry, millions of urban citizens in cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore or Ahmedabad can directly benefit from it. And it can have a very positive impact on the health of citizens. This is an addition to the concrete work we will be able to do in the direction of biodiversity and air quality with this concept.

Of course, biophilic designs seem a bit difficult for us right now, legally, financially or from a compliance point of view. But if there is proper collaboration by governments, authorities or real estate industry and proper efforts are made in that direction, we can benefit from these designs and secure the future of the generations to come.

By Viral Desai
( The author is a known Environmentalist and the pioneer of Satyagraha Against Pollution movement.

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