Welcome back to Biophilic Moodboards, the monthly column where we explore the fascinating world of biophilic design…one moodboard at a time!
This month I got inspired by why and how one can create places of refuge in interiors. But – as usual – let’s start from the very beginning…
How would you define the word refuge?
The dictionary says a refuge is
"a place that provides shelter or protection"
And indeed, that’s what a home should be! An alcove of wellbeing, a safe harbour, a place to feel at ease and disconnect from outside world...a refuge!
Why is refuge important?
In practice though, home is the background to many different activities.
It is the place for everyday family life, gatherings with friends and even work for someone! And with so many different activities happening, it’s sometimes hard to identify home as a shelter…we’d rather call it a mess some days!
This is why it’s important to create specific refuge areas inside a home.
They will become an invite to carve some – much needed – moments of calm and silence throughout the day. But they can also be used to facilitate concentration and make the most of our working time.
How to create a refuge in biophilic design
Taking inspiration from places that provide shelter in nature, we could summarize the key ingredients of a refuge as:
- a comfortable area
- rather small in size
- that is shielded from the rest of the space
- without feeling claustrophobic
Ideally, a refuge should provide protection from three sides, and leave the fourth open to still allow viewing the surroundings.
Examples of refuge at home
One of the first ideas that comes to mind is certainly a reading nook: a cozy armchair protected from the rest of the room is the ideal spot to snuggle and unwind after a long day.
But the bathroom is also a great candidate to become a place of refuge.
We often hear about the importance of me-time for wellbeing, and designing the bathroom as a refuge is certainly going to give a deeper value to our daily grooming routines.
And in the bedroom, a canopy would be the perfect strategy to transform a bed into a real shelter!
But a place of refuge can really be created anywhere it is needed. And the sky is the limit when it comes to decide what to use as shield! Even an oversized lampshade can make the ambiance more intimate!
Not only for relaxing
We’ve mentioned before that a refuge can also create the right conditions for concentration. And this immediately recalls office/home office spaces!
In fact, conceiving a desk area as a refuge will facilitate the state of flow that makes us so productive!
And last but not least, refuge features can be included to create privacy in all public spaces; from restaurants to urban design!
If you've enjoyed this post, take a look at the previous episodes of Biophilic Moodboards as well! We've talked about the benefits of risky interiors, the connection between interior design, wellbeing and nature, why it's a good idea to include water features in interiors and much more!
- Grahn P., Stigsdotter U.K. (2010). The Relation Between Perceived Sensory Dimensions of Urban Green Space and Stress Restoration (opened in a new window/tab). Landscape and Urban Planning 94, 264-275.
- Wang K., Taylor R.B. (2006). Simulated Walks through Dangerous Alleys: Impacts of Features and Progress on Fear (opened in a new window/tab). Journal of Environmental Psychology, 26, 269-283.
- Petherick, N. (2000). Environmental Design and Fear: The Prospect-Refuge Model and the University College of the Cariboo Campus (opened in a new window/tab). Western Geography, 10 (1), 89-112.
- Ulrich, R.S. (1993). Biophilia, Biophobia and Natural Landscapes (opened in a new window/tab). In: S.R. Kellert & R.S. Wilson. The Biophilia Hypothesis (73-137). Washington: Island Press.
- The 14 Patterns of Biophilic Design is a framework conceptualized by Terrapin Bright Green