When asked about the importance of biophilia in design Esther Dickins from Architectus says “The right question might be how can it not be important to any responsible designer?”

“We as humans have an innate biological and genetic connection with nature and that has an impact on our health and wellbeing” she explains.

“Something as simple as a window looking out onto green space can in fact improve human health in all sorts of ways. It reduces anxiety, tension and confusion, improves our mood and improves concentration and productivity”.

Esther, who has a passion for designing in response to the local environment, is a highly respected landscape architect and urban designer with over 25 years of experience in the industry. Her latest role is heading up Architectus’ new landscape architecture offering.

“Architectus see landscape not as a want in today's design culture, but really as a need, as something we can't put to the side, do without or add on at the end. It has to be integral to how we see and develop our design,” she says.

Esther believes the need for good urban landscaping and biophilic design became more apparent during the pandemic when people relied so much more on their local areas and tuned into the importance of quality outdoor spaces. On top of this, she says urban heat and the effects of global warming are added impetus for better urban design.

Esther says good, sustainable designs are intrinsically linked to place and tap into the local weather conditions and landscape.

When reflecting on her time working in the Middle East, she says she witnessed a desire to have bright green lawns, tropical plants and lush environments which was incredibly difficult within a desert environment.

She says, thankfully, there has now been a shift, and not long before she left the Middle East in 2007, she was beginning to look at designs that reduced water use and incorporated more local and endemic plants.

Some of Esther’s standout projects in Australia include The Canopy in Lane Cove and Burwood Brickworks in Melbourne. Both projects embrace biophilic design while giving back public space.

A project Esther is excited about bringing to fruition is the Blacktown International Centre of Training Excellence in Western Sydney. She says the space will invite the community into an underutilised area and will encourage health and activity, including a physical literacy park linked with part of the Great West Walk.

“Successful public space is space that people really use and want to get out into, that everyone in the community feels comfortable using,” she says.

Esther believes the greatest loss in design in Australia is that those who came on the first fleet didn’t have any understanding or appreciation of what they could have learned from the people who had been living here for 60,0000 years and doing so sustainably.

“I think if we had even taken on a portion of that knowledge to understand how to work with country here with the harsh environment, we would be in so much of a better position now. It’s excellent to see that we are now starting that journey but it’s really over 200 years too late and we’ve got a lot of making up to do,” she says.

If you’d like to find out more about  biophilia in design, listen to the full episode here. This podcast is brought to you in association with Stormtech proud sponsors of our 2023 Hospitality & Retail series of podcasts.