Go Inside and Play!

by Robin Pecka, ALSC Architects

Fitness Centers – an adult’s playground. You can take your pick of activities, but it all focuses on one thing – our well being. As humans, there is one thing we are biologically built to need that maximizes our health and happiness and takes “health and wellness” to a whole new level – nature. So how can we incorporate nature into the design of Fitness Centers to boost the user’s experience?

Biophilic Design

Biophilia is the idea that  “humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life.”  On a physiological level, all humans are hard-wired to need to connect with nature. Biophilic design focuses on incorporating elements derived from nature into the built environment to maximize human functioning and health and reduce stress. What we see, hear and experience moment-by-moment affects not only our mood, but how our nervous, endocrine and immune systems work.

Health and Wellness

Fitness. It’s more than just a buzz word; it has become a way of life. Disease and lack of fitness have been linked more and more as new studies come out and people look to incorporate the idea of health and wellness into their daily lives. Fitness Centers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they all function to achieve the same goal – to make us healthier; thereby creating a more rested, mentally focused and relaxed person. Biophilic design in fitness centers makes absolute sense because the owner, user and biophilic design goals are all united – to encapsulate health and wellbeing.

Nature Inspired Fitness Centers . . . How?

Ways to achieve biophilic design in the built environment are innumerable and dependent upon site, building orientation, function, etc. However, there are several design considerations that can be easily incorporated to efficiently bring nature indoors:

  • Placing windows to maximize views to nature and allow sunlight and shadows in.
  • Providing operable windows so users can control their immediate environment and offer the outdoor environment to the five senses.
  • Creating an environment that has an overall order in layout, but is made up of complexities and variety to stimulate exploration and discovery.
  • Varying ceiling heights to create areas of openness (the wide outdoors) and areas of refuge (a cave) to address comfort levels of the users.
  • Providing natural materials that emulate nature and provide texture and richness.

Biophilic design does not require more cost or time, just the conscientiousness of both the client and Architect/Designer working towards a common goal – to make rich, stimulating, nature-inspired environments.


Biophilia and Workplace

Robin Pecka is an Interior Designer with ALSC Architects.  She has a passion for people and what makes them tick. Her goal as a designer is to create spaces that emotionally and physically enhance the built environment.


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