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Biophilic design in public spaces - International Airport Avram Iancu, Cluj-Napoca

11 May. 2023
Biophilic design in public spaces - Green Furniture Concept
If you look at things from the perspective of architecture and design, you can safely say that you are the environment in which you spend your time. Just as a nutritionist tells you that you are what you eat, or a psychologist tells you that you are what you think or feel. All these perspectives are equally important and closely related to each other because they determine your health and quality of life.

Current trends in design and architecture are based on studies and research that take into account the effects of the environment on our well-being, considering sensory stimuli, ergonomics, and the absence of harmful substances. This is the context in which we can talk about an increasingly popular approach - biophilic design, based on the connection between humans and nature. It is, in fact, an old concept that you follow almost intuitively, for example, when you bring a plant, a rock, or prefer solid wood furniture pieces into your home.

A remarkable influence in the development of this concept is the furniture designers from Green Furniture Concept (Sweden), who rely on integrated, organic, sustainable approaches to designing spaces, especially public ones: train stations, airports, medical centers, educational campuses, shopping centers, office areas, etc. Everything is based on natural materials (wood, stone, clay, fibers, shells), and the configurations follow a perfect balance between the furnished spaces and the open areas, between intimacy and openness, natural flow, and intuitive orientation. Forms, lines, materials, colors, and textures, furniture, and lighting fixtures placement are indissolubly linked to respect for nature, ecological manufacturing processes based on sustainable raw materials. Green Furniture Concept products and expertise are accessible in Romania through a partnership with our sister company DACCA Group Trade in Cluj-Napoca.

Well-being and inclusive design

It is well-known that nature, in any form, intervenes positively in our lives (marked by many artificial things), because it stimulates immunity, reduces stress, and even accelerates recovery after an illness or surgery. Materials, daylight, fresh air, water, specific sounds, and aromas are extremely important in this multisensory landscape that we can replicate in our built environment. 
The way we perceive shapes (geometries found in nature) and light determines our mood and ability to relax, concentrate or learn. At the same time, we need safety and the feeling of belonging to a community, so we feel good in spaces where we are connected (effectively or potentially) with objects and people around us. In this sense, we can mention another current trend, inclusive design. It involves creating quiet, welcoming spaces where people do not feel isolated, discriminated against, or disadvantaged, regardless of their mood or health status, age, ethnic or cultural group, or gender. A clear and intuitive definition of spaces favors good orientation, which is extremely important for people who have a problem in this regard (including the elderly and those with mental health issues), but also for newcomers to that space, who should gain a sense of familiarity. It is not surprising at all that a design based on such principles calms and prevents antisocial behavior; it has even been observed that such spaces are less likely to be subject to vandalism, and repairs are less necessary. When we obtain a sense of belonging, we become more responsible and take care of our surroundings, which is, in the end, beneficial for everyone.

Here are few example of elements that you could use for inclusive design:

• Warm, natural materials with organic shapes;
• Creation of modular configurations that can be rearranged based on needs (oriented towards socialization or providing privacy as necessary);
• Accessibility - special modules for people with disabilities, spaces equipped for wheelchairs, colors that help people with visual or memory problems;
• The possibility of using the space without time constraints through continuous design, which lacks rigid boundaries or armrests (as you may have noticed, armrests constrain us to use benches and chairs only in a certain position, which does not encourage us to stay there for long);
• Social relevance - refers to the fact that users have equal access to the facilities of the space, without creating a feeling of discrimination;
• Practical advantages through the multifunctionality of furniture objects, so that they can be used by anyone: children, seniors, active people with a laptop, etc.

Unique project in Romania

DACCA implemented biophilic design solutions from Green Furniture Concept for the Avram Iancu Airport in Cluj-Napoca, the first project of its kind in Romania. By redesigning the Departures area, the aim was to upgrade the space, bringing it up to European standards, increasing the number of waiting seats and optimizing traffic flow. The same footprint was used, resulting in a much more efficient use of space compared to the old configuration, which had traditional seats. Over 65 airports worldwide benefit from Green Furniture Concept seating systems and other products.

Here are some of DACCA's proposals in the project at the airport in Cluj-Napoca:

Nova C seating system

These are made of wooden material with a natural wax finish, very durable and easy to maintain. The fluid, organic, harmonious vein shapes are attractive and perfectly scalable to the dimensions and proportions of the space. Moreover, they provide exceptional comfort and are modular, so they can be reconfigured. Several options are available: a simple or double bench (wider, on two rows), with or without a backrest, with different curvatures, with the possibility of orienting them towards the outside or inside of the curve. Various chromatic variants are available, including multicolored options for children of all ages. Any space becomes unique, and this uniqueness can have several variants! It has been found that these systems increase user satisfaction by at least 25%, compared to traditional seating solutions.

Leaf Lamp Pendant and Leaf Lamp Tree

These are models of lighting fixtures made of natural wool felt, in which discreet LEDs are integrated, spreading a white, clean light. In addition, the felt absorbs sound waves, improving the acoustics of the adjacent space. Whether suspended (Leaf Lamp Pendant) or in the form of a small tree (Leaf Lamp Tree), these lighting fixtures bring life to the respective area through their attractive, organic profile, becoming focal points that change the perspective on the time spent in a public space. Leaf Lamp Tree has a special note of authenticity due to the wooden branches and the birch bark finish. Several Leaf Lamp Pendant lamps can be combined to reinterpret the design of a space, creating a "canopy effect" as if we were under the canopy of a miraculous forest.

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