Inspiring a Sense of Awe Within the Built Environment

18 Feb | Biophilic Design

Imagine traveling to Alaska to spend a cool night, gazing wide-eyed as the Aurora Borealis dances in the sky above you. How would you feel at that moment? How would you physically and emotionally respond to seeing one of the greatest wonders of the natural world?

Maybe your eyes widen, your jaw drops slightly or you take in a deep breath. In that moment, you might experience a feeling of transcendence. Science would describe the distinct brain responses to the stimuli before you as a sense of awe – the physiological response we experience in the presence of something that challenges our very understanding of the world.

Recently, internationally acclaimed environmental consulting firm Terrapin Bright Green added awe to the list of reported patterns of biophilic design that detail the relationship between nature and people. The company also explains how we can benefit from experiencing awe, and how its pattern can be incorporated into the built world around us. Studies have found that individuals experiencing awe feel a positive increase in mood, satisfaction and health, while giving a boost to critical thinking. These individuals also express a sense of feeling humbled, exhibit more pro-social behavior and feel more charitable after having an awe experience.

As a company, Plant Solutions has studied and incorporated the patterns of biophilic design in our work for over four decades. Using these concepts as a baseline, our work creates distinctive indoor landscapes that replicate a natural system indoors to foster feelings of wellness through connection to the natural world. There are three primary concepts in using biophilic design:

  • Nature in the space, which refers to the addition of natural elements into built environments.
  • Natural analogues, which touches on man-made elements that mimic the natural world.
  • Nature of the space, which dives into the physiological response to the planning and architectural design of a space.

In biophilia, awe relates to the nature of the space in question. It can defy an existing frame of reference and cause a change in the perception of the environment. Plant Solutions’ interior landscapes aim to engage the senses and inspire connectivity to nature in the built environment through the use of biomorphic patterns, bright colors, and natural materials. Our design services include home and office horticultural services, plant rentals and our own signature MossWallArt™ installations.

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