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Introduction: The Power of Biophilic Interior Design in Healthcare

In the realm of healthcare design, creating spaces that promote healing and well-being is paramount. One approach that has gained significant traction in recent decade is biophilic design—the integration of nature and natural elements into the built environment. Biophilic design is rooted in the understanding that humans have an innate connection to nature, and that exposure to natural elements can have profound positive effects on our physical and mental health. In healthcare settings, where stress levels are often high and the need for healing is critical, applying biophilic design principles can be particularly impactful. One powerful tool for incorporating biophilic design in healthcare environments is the Biophilic Interior Design Matrix, a framework that guides designers in creating spaces that optimize the benefits of nature. And one of the most effective ways to apply this matrix is through the use of preserved gardens and preserved moss walls—innovative solutions that bring the beauty and serenity of nature indoors, without the maintenance requirements of living plants.

Understanding the Biophilic Interior Design Matrix

The Biophilic Interior Design Matrix is a comprehensive framework that helps designers incorporate nature into interior spaces in a systematic and evidence-based way. Developed by leading experts in the field of biophilic design, the matrix identifies key patterns and attributes of nature that have been shown to have positive effects on human health and well-being. These patterns are organized into three main categories: Nature in the Space, Natural Analogues, and Nature of the Space.

Nature in the Space refers to the direct incorporation of natural elements such as plants, water, and natural light into the built environment. This can include features like indoor gardens, water features, and large windows that allow for ample natural light and views of nature.

Natural Analogues are design elements that mimic or evoke nature, such as natural materials, patterns, and colors. This can include the use of wood, stone, and other organic materials, as well as nature-inspired artwork and textiles.

Nature of the Space refers to the spatial configuration and layout of the environment, with a focus on creating spaces that feel natural and supportive of human well-being. This can include elements like open, flexible spaces, refuge areas for privacy and relaxation, and clear lines of sight to the outdoors.

By using the Biophilic Interior Design Matrix as a guide, healthcare designers can create environments that are not only aesthetically pleasing, but also optimized for healing and well-being.

The Benefits of Preserved Gardens in Healing Environments

One of the most effective ways to incorporate Nature in the Space in healthcare environments is through the use of preserved gardens and moss walls. These innovative solutions offer all the benefits of living plants—including improved connection, reduced stress, and enhanced mood—without the maintenance requirements and potential allergens -and even bugs- associated with live plants.

Preserved gardens are created using real plants that have been treated with a specialized preservation process, allowing them to maintain their vibrant color and soft texture for years without the need for water, sunlight, or soil. This makes them an ideal choice for healthcare settings, where maintenance can be a challenge and where the presence of soil and standing water can pose infection control risks.

In addition to their practical benefits, preserved gardens and moss walls can have a profound impact on the emotional and psychological well-being of patients, visitors, and staff in healthcare environments. Studies have shown that exposure to natural elements can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and improve overall mood and satisfaction. In healthcare settings, where stress and anxiety are often high, these benefits can be particularly valuable.

Applying the Biophilic Interior Design Matrix with Preserved Gardens in Medical Facilities

When applying the Biophilic Interior Design Matrix in healthcare environments, preserved gardens and moss walls can be used to incorporate all three categories of biophilic design: Nature in the Space, Natural Analogues, and Nature of the Space.

For Nature in the Space, preserved gardens can be used to create lush, immersive indoor garden installations that bring the beauty and serenity of nature directly into the healthcare environment. These installations can be customized to fit any space, from large atriums and lobbies to smaller waiting areas and patient rooms. By incorporating a diverse range of plant species and textures, preserved gardens can create a rich, multi-sensory experience that engages the senses and promotes relaxation and well-being.

For Natural Analogues, preserved moss walls and preserved gardens can be used to create nature-inspired designs that mimic the patterns, textures, and colors of natural landscapes. These walls can be customized with a variety of moss and plant species and colors, creating stunning visual displays that evoke the feeling of being in nature. Preserved moss walls can also be used to create biomorphic forms and patterns, which are design elements that mimic the organic shapes and flows found in nature.

For Nature of the Space, preserved gardens and moss walls can be used to create spatial configurations that feel natural and supportive of human well-being. For example, preserved gardens can be used to create green walls that divide larger spaces into more intimate, human-scaled areas, providing a sense of enclosure and refuge. Moss walls can be used to create focal points and visual interest, drawing the eye, and providing a calming, nature-inspired visual anchor within the space.

How Preserved Gardens Enhance Patient Recovery

Preserved gardens in healthcare environments do more than just beautify the space. They play a significant role in enhancing patient recovery. Think about it – being surrounded by nature makes us feel calm and peaceful, right? Well, this isn’t just a feeling; it’s backed by science. Studies show that looking at green spaces can lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and speed up recovery times. Patients in rooms with views of gardens or with access to greenery tend to need less medication and experience shorter hospital stays. This approach, known as biophilic design, harnesses our innate connection to nature to promote healing.

By integrating preserved gardens, moss walls or preserved planter inserts within healthcare settings, we’re not just creating pretty spaces; we’re designing environments that actively support patient recovery. It’s about bringing the outside in and making healing a holistic experience that engages the senses and nurtures the soul. So, when we talk about improving healthcare environments, incorporating preserved gardens is not just an aesthetic choice—it’s a health strategy.

Steps to Implement Biophilic Design in Healthcare Environments

To integrate biophilic design into healthcare spaces, start by focusing on bringing the outside, inside. Here’s a rundown on what to do:

  1. Natural Light: Make sure rooms get plenty of sunlight. It not only boosts mood but also connects patients with the day’s rhythm.
  2. Plants and Greenery: Add indoor plants – preferably preserved ones to comply with infection control – and vertical gardens crafted with preserved moss and preserved plants. They reduce stress and improve mood.
  3. Use of Natural Materials: Incorporate materials like wood and stone into the design. These elements evoke a sense of calm and connection to nature.
  4. Water Features: Consider small fountains or water walls. The sound of water is soothing and adds a tranquil ambiance.
  5. Views of Nature: If possible, arrange for patient rooms and common areas to have views of gardens or natural landscapes. Even images of natural scenes can have a positive effect.
  6. Colors and Textures: Choose colors and textures that mimic the outdoors—think greens, browns, and blues, with fabrics that have a natural feel.

Keep it simple. You don’t need to overhaul everything at once. Start small, perhaps with more natural light or a few plants, and build from there. The goal is to create a healing environment that helps patients feel more relaxed and connected to the natural world while they recover.

Maintenance and Sustainability of Preserved Gardens in Clinical Spaces

Maintaining preserved gardens in clinical spaces is less about daily upkeep and more about long-term sustainability. These gardens don’t need water, sunlight, or soil changes, making them ideal for indoor health environments. Unlike traditional gardens, preserved gardens require minimal effort; there’s no need for regular pruning or watering. Instead, focus shifts to ensuring the space remains dust-free and the air quality is not compromised by the materials used in the garden setup. Sustainability comes from choosing eco-friendly preservation methods and materials that are non-toxic and safe for a healthcare setting. Opting for preserved gardens means reducing water usage and the demand for constant care. However, it’s crucial to select plants that have been preserved using sustainable practices and choosing the right preserved garden / moss wall provider that has a compliance with CDPH VOC Standards and compliance with Healthy Hospitals Initiative. These mean considering how the plants were grown before preservation and ensuring the preservation process doesn’t use harmful chemicals, and making sure that the provider that is chosen to furnish and install these preserved gardens, moss walls or planter inserts has the Material Health and Occupant Health Credentials.

Garden on the Wall® is the only preserved garden and moss wall provider in the world with compliance with Healthy Hospitals Initiative and California Department of Public Health’s VOC Standards. The preserved gardens from the right provider offer a practical, safe, beautiful, and sustainable addition to healing environments, contributing to patient well-being without adding to maintenance burdens.

Case Studies: Successful Applications of Preserved Gardens & Moss Walls in Healthcare Settings

Several healthcare facilities have successfully incorporated preserved gardens and moss walls into their design, with impressive results. For example:

  • The Award-Winning New York-Presbyterian Integrative Health and Well-being Center in New York features a stunning preserved planter installations in its patient’s lobby, created by Garden on the Wall® in collaboration with HOK designers in NYC. The installation includes a diverse range of plant species and textures, creating a lush, immersive natural environment that welcomes visitors and reduces stress.
  • The Veterans Affairs Protea Clinic in San Diego features a large preserved planter in the lobby, created by Garden on the Wall®. This stunning horizontal-plane garden greets visitors in the lobby with its depth, texture, and height. Composed of forest, fern, eucalyptus, and moss species, the garden mimics a bucolic natural landscape with micro-forests and hidden glens. GOTW’s installation captivates and inspires, while providing a soothing element to the space.
  • The Essentia Health’s St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth MN features one of the largest preserved garden installations in its lobby, created by Garden on the Wall®. The installation is a part of healing environment the hospital intended to create a serene, nature-inspired space for patients, families, and staff to retreat and find moments of peace and relaxation.

These case studies demonstrate the powerful impact that preserved gardens and moss walls can have in healthcare environments, and the ways in which they can be used to apply the principles of the Biophilic Interior Design Matrix to create healing, supportive spaces.

Conclusion: The Future of Healthcare Design with Biophilic Design Principles and Preserved Gardens

Biophilic design is not just a trend, it’s the future of creating healing spaces. By making nature an integral part of healthcare environments, from small clinics to large hospitals, we’re taking huge strides in improving patient recovery times and overall well-being. Including preserved gardens and natural elements in these spaces can significantly decrease stress, enhance mood, and boost feelings of happiness and tranquility.

As the field of healthcare design continues to evolve, the integration of biophilic design principles and the use of preserved gardens and moss walls are poised to play an increasingly important role. By creating healthcare environments that are not only functional and efficient, but also supportive of human health and well-being, designers can help to promote healing, reduce stress, and improve outcomes for patients, families, and staff.

The Biophilic Interior Design Matrix provides a valuable framework for incorporating nature into healthcare environments in a systematic and evidence-based way. And preserved gardens and moss walls offer a practical, low-maintenance solution for bringing the benefits of nature indoors, without the challenges associated with living plants.

As more healthcare facilities embrace these innovative approaches, we can expect to see a new generation of healing spaces that are not only beautiful and inviting, but also optimized for health and well-being. By designing with nature in mind, we can create healthcare environments that truly support the healing process, and that provide a sense of comfort, connection, and hope for all who enter their doors.

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