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Biophilic home design: The healthful effect of connecting with your natural environment

11.28.17

Ask just about anyone to describe a place where they feel completely relaxed and they will probably talk about a sandy beach, a wooded hiking trail, a snow-covered mountain, or some other natural environment. It’s highly unlikely you’ll hear someone tell you that urban sprawl or an office is their happy place.

The joy we feel from nature is known as “biophilia”. Psychologist Erich Fromm first used the term more than 50 years ago, defining it as “the passionate love of life and all that is alive.” Twenty years later, biologist Edward O. Wilson wrote the book, “Biophilia” and described it as “the urge to affiliate with other forms of life.”

This critical connection between our living space and the natural environment has pushed an architectural practice toward blending people with the healthy natural elements in the world around them—like fresh air, plants, and sunlight.

Epcon Communities embodied this concept when we developed our Courtyard Collection of homes. We designed each one with a private garden courtyard at the heart of the home, so that the people living here could enjoy the natural beauty of the outdoors any time of year. This concept not only connects homeowners with the beauty of a garden view but also streams plenty of daylight into their homes, which is believed to have an energizing impact. Biophilic design can help to reduce stress, sharpen focus, increase mental stamina, and even improve the quality of sleep.

Phil Fankhauser, co-founder of Epcon Communities, says that biophilic design integrates the way we relate to our environment, and how our environment impacts us. “The way your home interacts with you can be a revitalizing experience,” he says. “The design should connect you with your needs, like morning light and fresh air to increase alertness and reduce fatigue.”

Hospitals have tuned into the restorative properties of biophilic design, too.

“The use of nature reduces the sensation of pain and promotes faster recovery, which is why hospitals are now putting bigger windows in all the patient rooms and providing views of mini-gardens and courtyards,” Fankhauser explains. “Our courtyards allow light and fresh air into the home from the many windows we incorporate into the design. That's an important feature for our home buyers”

What do you want your home to do for you? It’s your haven, your private retreat from the rest of the world. Look for views of natural surroundings, windows that allow plenty of sunlight to brighten your rooms, and the ability to throw open those windows and take in the fresh air. When you surround yourself with these all-natural ingredients, you’ll reward yourself with a happier lifestyle.