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Biophilic architecture and its influence on human behaviour and well-being : a proposed urban multi-use office park development.

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Dealing with the issue of buildings showing characteristics of sick building syndrome, could result in occupants suffering negative side effects. Healthy living is a primary need for society. Everyday pollution in society has led to these negative outcomes of physical and psychological well-being of space users. When investigating factors such as natural light, colour, fresh air, visual contact with water and nature or noise pollution, it is found that exposure to such natural elements positively influences human behaviour, health and productivity in a live, work and play environment. This dissertation is aimed at developing an understanding conducted under the hypothesis of how architectural environments, through the theory of environmental psychology: a study of the relationship between natural environments, affect human behaviour and well-being. A healthy environment requires regular contact with nature promoting physical and psychological benefits, crucial to an individual’s health and happiness. By reducing sick building syndrome, it could increase performance and improve overall health and well-being. Occupants of the chosen case studies completed questionnaires through distribution and structured interviews personally conducted, focusing on a qualitative method. Assessing and evaluating the aims, objectives and key questions and understanding of how Biophilic Architecture influences human behaviour and well-being was obtained. Case (Alexander Forbes and Nedbank Ridgeview) and precedents studies (Prisma Nürnberg and Khoo Teck Paut Hospital) were investigated through Edward, O. Wilsons’ Biophilia hypothesis theory of mans affiliation with nature and incorporating it into building forms, showing how architectural design can evoke human behaviour through natural design elements. Architectural design is about humanity’s ‘sense of place’ (concept of Genius Loci) in nature and where the natural environment fits into the physical environment. Biophilic designs’ sensory rich world affects human health, productivity, emotional, intellectual and spiritual well-being, as well as reducing stress levels and eases pain. Biophilic Architecture could be the solution through a link of natural and physical environments, positively influencing human behaviour and well-being. Futuristic sustainability should have the combination of biophilic design and low environmental impact, resulting in a restorative nature based design: a true result of a positive psychological environment, a ‘sense of place,’ people want to experience, that is healthy, nurturing, and delightful to its occupants, improving the experiential quality of architectural space.


Thesis (M.Arch.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, 2013.


Sustainable architecture., Sick building syndrome., Office parks--Designs and plans., Architecture--Environmental aspects., Architecture--Human factors., Architecture--Pyschological aspects., Buildings--Environmental engineering., Theses--Architecture.