BIOPHILIC DESIGN IN PRESCHOOL FURNITURE: A REFUGE POD DESIGN PROPOSAL AS AN EDUCATIONAL TOOL
Izmir University of Economics (TURKEY)
About this paper:
Conference name: 13th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-6 July, 2021
Location: Online Conference
Abstract:Children spend a considerable amount of time inside educational buildings. This results in a separation from nature for long periods of time and has negative effects on their mental and physical health. Children are in a greater need of being in nature than adults and have a stronger relationship with nature, as it is key for their development and education. Since nature is indispensable for a child's physical and psychological development, educational environments need to be designed considering the human connection with nature, with a biophilic design approach. Biophilic design refers to an affinity of all human beings to be drawn to and connect with nature and the application of natural elements and the order of nature to built environments. The application of natural features in built environments has the potential to affect the health, mood, creativity, productivity, behavior and well-being of all users. The majority of studies on reconnecting children with natural environments in learning environments have focused on general effects of biophilic design and applying natural features in built environments in large scale. Although this is important, the connection with nature needs to also be developed until the smaller scale in interiors, furniture design has largely been neglected in related literature. Furniture is the intermediary essential element in interiors that humans have a functional and sensory interaction with. One of the natural orders in biophilic design is refuge, referring to a safe place that protects from the outside world, by also providing visual access. Children enjoy small nooks and partially closed spaces and they use them for protection as well as fantasy. In this study, by addressing the missing link between biophilia and furniture design for children, the aim is to design a “Refuge Pod” furniture in the preschool environment with a biophilic design approach, considering the spatial and furniture design needs of the space. A study was carried out in a preschool environment in Izmir-Turkey, with the participation of children, and design criteria were derived from children’s feedback. Observation, interview, and drawing techniques were used for design ideas. Accordingly, a refuge pod was designed with biophilic criteria in a participatory design approach. Findings showed that children often enjoy small spaces to hide in, with their friends and belongings, and they were creative in their ideas for the pod. The aim is to create awareness on biophilic design approaches for specifically children’s furniture and the significance of including children’s opinions in design proposals. The method and design proposal have a potential to contribute to existing biophilic design literature as well as furniture design practice in educational environments, contributing to children's learning.
Keywords: Biophilia, Biophilic design, Children, Preschool environments, Learning environments, Furniture design.