biophilia

[ bahy-oh-fil-ee-uh ]
the love of nature and living things

Clearly, nature calls to something very deep within us. Biophilia, the love of nature and living things, is an essential part of the human condition. Hortophilia, the desire to interact with, manage and tend nature, is also deeply instilled in us. The role that nature plays in health and healing becomes even more critical for people working long days in windowless offices, for those living in city neighborhoods without access to green spaces, for children in city schools or for those in institutional settings such as nursing homes. The effects of nature’s qualities on health are not only spiritual and emotional but physical and neurological. I have no doubt that they reflect deep changes in the brain’s physiology, and perhaps even its structure.” – Oliver Sacks

The word biophilia originates from the Greek, ‘philia’ meaning ‘love of’. Literally meaning a love of life and living things.

Psychologist, Erich Fromm, first used the word Biophilia in 1964, describing it as “the passionate love of life and all that is alive”. The concept of Biophilia became well known in 1984 following the publishing of the book ‘Biophilia’ by Edward O Wilson, an American biologist, who defined it as “the urge to affiliate with other forms of life”.

Since then, Biophilia has become increasingly recognized by both the scientific community and by architects and designers. Studies have shown evidence of positive benefits of human interaction with nature, such as lower levels of stress, improved productivity, enhanced learning and improved recovery following illness.

Blondie’s Treehouse is dedicated to creating
unique and vital greenscapes.

BTH is a dynamic company consisting of multidisciplinary departments of expertise including; landscape architecture, garden design, exterior construction, design/build, interiorscape, floral design, holiday and botanical décor. As a diverse company Blondie’s specializes in horticulture design, installation and maintenance, green walls, green roofs, faux and moss walls, irrigation, lighting, and custom botanical décor. For over 40 years our passion has been to connect people with plantscapes that benefit the environment and inspire us to breathe deeply and renew.

Sustainable practices requires commitment. From specialty training focused on prevention and the practice of IPM (Integrated Pest Management), which is a process used to solve pest problems while minimizing risks to people and the environment, to working directly with growers and farmers creating specialty blends of premium organic soils, soil amendments and compost that are custom-tailored to suit the growing conditions of our gardens, Blondie’s dedication to environmentally responsible procedures and practices runs throughout our company culture.

Biophilic Design Elements

Here are some of our favorite design elements:
- Visual Connection with Nature
- The Presence of Water
- Use of Natural Shapes and Forms
- Natural Light + Smart Lighting Design
- Emphasize Place-Based Relationships
- Considered Human-Nature Interaction
- Use of Natural Patterns and Textures
- Use of Natural and Eco-Friendly Materials
- Incorporate Restorative Spaces

feature project | Sky View Parc, Flushing Queens NYC

Occupying a prime Downtown Flushing location, the 448-unit Sky View Parc is among New York’s largest mixed-use developments and boasts the city’s second largest green roof storm water sponge. Sounds impressive right? And it is… but what exactly is a storm water sponge? It functions much like it’s named, by retaining and repurposing rain water, diverting it from the overtaxed sewer system to prevent flooding. Dick Bernauer of Sempergreen USA describes green roofs as a building system that “…utilizes vegetation as a tool to protect the soil and resist runoff. Purple-Roof successfully retains the most water and minimizes and/or eliminates fine particles and fertilizer runoff, making it the smartest green roof of North America.” In addition to the storm water prevention, the giant extensive green roof provides benefits to the surrounding community, including lower temperatures, cleaner air, noise reduction, and increased property values. It is the most visible exterior feature of the new luxury development and symbolic of the improvements to the neighborhood.

For this project Blondie’s partnered up with Landscape Architect James P. Gilday. The architects delivered a smart and spectacular design featuring amazing views of Manhattan, a health club and spa, outdoor sports and a 55,000 sq. ft. sedum green roof. The outcome exceeds expectations. The green roof, sprawling across multiple levels “…uses light and shadow effects coupled with vegetation and turf areas to create visual and spatial interest from all levels of the rooftop.” Combined with the ground level park and other green amenities it creates a cascading effect, a waterfall of vibrant green. In accordance to biophiliac design, which addresses our innate need to connect with nature, just viewing the expansive green roof from one of Sky View’s overlooking 1,200 apartment units can be of great value. Dr. Judith Heerwagen, a researcher on design, productivity and well-being also states: “We know from the growing body of literature that contact with nature is beneficial to people, even when the contact is second hand through window views. The results of this research suggest what is seen out the window is important, as well as what comes in e.g., daylight, fresh air, nature sounds and a sense of relatedness to the outdoors”.

The green roof benefits the residents and the environment at large. Ian Dana, Operations VP at Blondie’s Treehouse notes: “Large, high profile projects like Sky View Parc have a big impact on awareness, making the green roof a household name. There will be a New York City in the not-too-distant future blanketed with green roofs from Far Rockaway to the northern-most reaches of the Bronx, delivering real, quantifiable improvements to local waterways, a greater diversity of plants, birds and insects, and newly created habitats for pollinators like honey bees and butterflies. Green roofs are not a trend, they are here to stay.”

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