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The Future Of Horticulture Part 1 - Biophilic Landscaping

John Mason Predicts The Future of Horticulture Part 1
Biophilic Landscaping

Our Principal, John Mason, is a world renowned horticultural expert, with over 41 years’ experience in the fields of Horticulture, Recreation, Education and Journalism. He has extensive experience both as a public servant, and as a small business owner. He has held positions ranging from Director of Parks and Recreation (City of Essendon) to magazine editor. John is a well-respected member of many professional associations, and author of over thirty five books and of over two thousand magazine articles. Today, John continues to write books for various publishers including Simon and Shuster, and Landlinks Press (CSIRO Publishing). Amongst other bodies, he is a Fellow of the Institute of Horticulture (UK), Member of the Garden Media Guild and ITOL, Fellow of Parks and Leisure Australia and of Institute of Horticulture (Australia). John is also heavily involved in the Australian Garden Council.

John was recently asked to make predictions about the future of the horticulture industry.  His first prediction was that biophilia will rise leading to landscaping for greater, more sophisticated people friendliness.

What is Biophilia?

The concept of biophilia has been attributed to the 20th century German humanist psychologist and author, Erich Fromm. For him, biophilia was a psychological orientation and 'state of being'. He first used the word biophilia in the 1960s. It is formed from bio, meaning life, and philia, meaning a friendly orientation toward. In his book 'Anatomy of Human Destructiveness' (1973) he described biophilia as “the passionate love of life and of all that is alive.”

Edward O. Wilson, an American socio-biologist and author, took things further and popularised the idea of the 'biophilia hypothesis' in his book entitled “Biophilia” in 1984. In fact, he extended the meaning of biophilia by suggesting that humans have an innate tendency to want to connect with nature and other forms of life.  We get great pleasure from being surrounded by other living things. He defined this as “the urge to affiliate with other forms of life.” He considered this urge to connect with nature to be partly genetic.
Biophilic design incorporates our need to be with nature by using natural elements and systems in the design of the built environment. The underlying principle is that the inclusion of nature in both manmade landscapes and buildings has a significant impact on our health and wellbeing. Biophilic design is more than simply using plants everywhere because it engages natural systems and processes.

Whilst the term biophilia may not have been coined until the 1960s, and didn't gain much traction until the 1980s, there has been awareness for far longer, that there is a fundamental relationship between human health and the environment in which we live. For instance, many older civilisations recognised the association between filtered water and the reduction of water-borne diseases. At the height of the industrial revolution, a plethora of parks were built in cities in the UK as places of repose where workers could access greenery and clean air. Some other examples include:

  • Recognition of the benefits that a more natural environment could bring to the human condition by pioneers of natural technologies and building methods in the early 20th century - such as Rodale, Steiner, Alistair Knox and others.
  • Elements of biophilia are evident in the concept of 'permaculture' introduced by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the 1970s i.e. self-sustainable systems of agriculture.
  • Green building, or green architecture, focuses on the reduction of toxins in homes and the provision of fresh air. There is an emphasis on energy efficiency.
  • The bau-biologie (building biology) movement which shares many of the ideas of biophilia, emerged in the 1960s in Germany. It is a scientific approach to choosing construction materials and design. It focuses on improving the health of inhabitants by using natural materials in buildings, reducing use of toxic materials, and minimising electro-magnetic fields and radiation.
  • In the 1960s and 1970s environmental psychologists, in recognition of the emerging effects of population growth, began to focus their attention on noise and air pollution, overcrowding, and stress in urban environments.
  • Awareness of environmental toxins has seen governments ban many chemicals from use in landscape and building construction amidst growing health concerns. The removal of lead piping is one example.

Those who advocate a biophilic approach to construction see that much of our modern architecture has strayed away from nature to the extent that it is often completely separated from it.  Whilst bau-biologie and green architecture have addressed many of the health aspects of buildings, what biophilic design does, is it takes these on board whilst simultaneously attempting to re-connect us with nature. It recognises the importance of nature in our ancestry and the deep-rooted links it has in how we feel and behave. Although it began by considering the impact of buildings on health, it has been extended to include gardens and surrounding landscapes.

If you would like to learn more about biophilic landscaping, please view our Biophilic Landscaping course here.

 

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