Design for Life: The Biophilic Bathroom

How to make your bathroom a healthy, eco-friendly retreat.

| July/August 2003

  • The bathroom should offer a place for serenity and repose.
    Photo by Elisabeth Groh

Biophilia: affinity for life
Eros: sensuality
Logos: reason

The bathroom is where it all comes together in a home: major water use, energy use (heating, lighting, and ventilation), and disposal of bodily wastes, overlain by issues of how we feel about our bodies. Yet bathrooms are usually tucked out of sight, often cramped—certainly not the hub of the home.

If the goal of ecological building is to increase our active respect for all of life, and our own bodies are our nearest and dearest portals to understanding life, shouldn’t the bathroom—the place where our bodies commune with the elements—be the sacred center of the home?

In the bathroom we have an unparalleled opportunity to grasp the dance of life, in our minds and in every cell of our bodies. Our sensory experience there is just as important as the mechanics of a bathroom. If we want to overcome the trend of the last two centuries—when bathrooms expressed a Puritan/Victorian alienation from our bodies—we need to weave together eros and logos.

When our bathroom experience is nurturing and comforting, we feel good about life from the inside out. When our bathwater nurtures our garden, we feel more a part of the web of life. And when our use of water, heat, light, and materials is respectful of the biosphere, we can relax deeply, knowing that our pleasure is not gained at its expense.

In the flow



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