Biophilic Landscaping

By ACS Distance Education on January 31, 2019 in Careers, Health, Jobs Success & Psychology | comments
The landscape we live will impact our state of mind and physical wellbeing in ways that are not always obvious, nevertheless very real. Biophilic landscapes are "people friendly" environments.

Scope of Work

Biophilia is a relatively new area of horticulture, landscape architecture and garden design. People working in this field may have slightly different roles since it can be incorporated into garden design, planning of green walls and green roofs, or building design itself.

The sorts of things people in biophilic fields might do on a daily basis include:

  • Designing living environments which are more conducive to public health and wellbeing
  • Incorporating plants and natural materials into urban designs
  • Incorporating patterns found in nature into design e.g. Fibonacci circles
  • Using plants to filter air pollution, increase oxygen levels, and as insulators to modify temperature
  • Positioning plants where they can be seen through windows e.g. on a ward  
  • Planning and designing green walls & facades
  • Planning and designing green roofs
  • Working out efficient use of water in the built environment & efficient use of natural resources
  • Constructing gardens, green walls and roofs 

Biophilic design may be used in and around residential properties as well as commercial residences like office blocks and hospitals. Work may also involve retrofitting existing buildings.

What You Need to Learn

  • Plant science - plant biology, physiology, anatomy, ecology, nutrition
  • Health science - understanding biophilia, links between green space and physical and mental health benefits, impact of plants on physiological processes, climate control, heat island effects  
  • Biophilic design - principles of biophilic design, creating biophilic landscapes, choosing materials, installations
  • Building science - understanding stresses and loads, cement & concrete mixes, depth & width of foundations, construction techniques
  • Project management - overseeing small to large scale projects, ordering materials, arranging labour & equipment
  • Soil science - potting media and soil structure, chemistry, management techniques, e.g. improving soils, aeration
  • Water science - water supplies, contamination and purification, waste water systems
  • Drainage - surface, subsurface, flood mitigation
  • Irrigation - equipment selection, installation and use
  • Taxonomy - choosing plant species and cultivars, identification, cultural characteristics

Starting a Career

There are many points of entry into this line of work. You may come to working in biophilic design from working in horticulture, at any level; or through related industries such as:

  • Construction (building, architecture, engineering)
  • Environmental management
  • Health

Others start with no training or experience. They may begin as a labourer or assistant to a garden designer or landscaper and learn on the job. As they gain experience they may be given greater responsibility, and this could lead to supervisory roles. From here, opportunities to work in management may arise an they may get more involved in design.

Since biophilic design is a relatively new area of design, there may not be too many options to work in this field full time but there are ways that you can steer a fledgling career towards this kind of work:

  • Take some foundation courses - to learn the basics  
  • Look for general labourer type positions in landscaping, construction or similar fields  
  • Do volunteer work for botanic gardens, public parks, or similar venues
  • Socialise with like-minded people - e. g. join an environmental group, a community garden
  • Join online groups - chat with mentors or instructors who have a strong understanding of the science and technique

Progressing a Career

Being a newish area of design, biophilic design and its offshoots, like green walls and roofs, are still evolving. With that comes changes in construction methods, design practices, materials, and so forth.   This means that anyone working in this field has to stay informed of industry changes in order to progress their career.

The best ways to achieve this include:

  • Taking courses - expand on your knowledge
  • Go to workshops - learn new skills
  • Join a relevant trade body or association - read the newsletters & journals
  • Visit biophilic landscapes - gain inspiration, talk with designers or other informed individuals

Those working as consultants or in private practice also need to promote themselves and their businesses. Some ways to do this include:

  • Making the most of social media - make yourself heard, write web blogs, publish promotional videos
  • Offer to do talks at conferences, industry meetings, etc.
  • Write articles for industry publications