Teacher and Parent Perception of Biophilic Conditions in Primary-School Environments and Their Impact on Children’s Wellbeing

Bethania Lanzaro and Marcella Ucci

The term “biophilia” refers to the intrinsic affinity that humans have towards nature, natural elements and natural processes. Biophilic design theories suggest that the introduction or representation of natural characteristics or elements into the built environment can help enhance people’s health and wellbeing. Primary school buildings are important environments where children spend considerable time. However, there is limited evidence on the impact of their biophilic features on the children themselves and on perceptions of important facilitators of children’s wellbeing, such as teachers and parents.

This research aims to investigate whether teachers and parents perceive children to have a preference or desire for specific biophilic characteristics in their school’s physical environment; and whether teachers perceive some biophilic characteristics as having an effect on children’s performance and behaviour. A framework for evaluating biophilic characteristics in primary schools was developed. Two case study primary schools in London and Bath (England, UK) were audited against this framework, and teachers and parents were surveyed. The results suggest that children do have a preference towards the specific biophilic features studied, which is stronger and more demanding when the exposure is higher. For some aspects, teachers’ perception of benefits is also susceptible to the quality of the environment itself.

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