Biophilic Design - Bring Nature's Restorative Powers Indoors

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Biophilic Design – The Relationship between Humans and Nature

biophilic design - living in nature

Biophilic design is based on the premise that spending time in natural settings is restorative. It’s one of the big reasons we specialize in homes located in soothing environments. A growing body of evidence confirms being in nature has a profoundly positive impact on our mental, emotional, and physical well-being


This nature-wellness link is resulting in a rising interest in biophilic design. “Biophilia” literally translates to “the passionate love of life and all that is alive.”  Therefore, from corporate offices to personal homes, architects and designers are working to help people feel happier, healthier, and more focused at work, and at home.

Over a decade ago, the so-called Godfather of Biophilia, Stephen Kellert, identified more than 70 elements to help create a strong connection to nature in an indoor setting. Rather than discuss the various architectural nuances of biophilic design, we are focused on how to easily create it in your current home.

A Spirit of Place 

Amanda Sturgeon, author of Creating Biophilic Buildings, believes a structure should reflect a geographic area. An understanding of the region’s ecosystem make us better stewards of the land, and help satisfy our need for a harmonious connection at home.  A “Spirit of Place.”

“Spirit of Place” is defined as the tangible and intangible elements that give meaning, value, emotion, and mystery to a place.


Tangible:  Buildings, sites, landscapes (rivers, mountains, meadows), routes.


Intangible: Memories, narratives, written documents, rituals, festivals, tradition,                             values, and textures.


In short, the soul of a place.


How to Increase Biophilia at Home


biophilic design - bring nature indoors


Obviously, a soothing and pleasing view is a great way to increase biophila at home. However, if your current view is lacking, there are other simple things you can do to to foster.


Fresh Air – Make sure you allow plenty of fresh air to move freely about your home. Open windows also allow us to hear the rain, the wind blowing through trees, and the sounds of birds chirping.


Play with Light and Shadow – having access to daylight helps balance our circadian rhytmns. Take note of shadows and sunlight moving through your home and landscape. If you have particularly sunny corner on a deck, create little spot to breathe in the outdoors. Try to minimize the boundaries between inside and outside spaces.


Natural Elements – Bring nature inside.  Plants, soothing greens, other natural elements ( think wood and stone) and a simple fountain can help connect us to nature.


Promote a Sense of Refuge – enclosed spaces help us feel secure, but with the addition of the ability to survey the landscape the space becomes restorative.  Plant trees or shrubs, create a beautiful garden – there are many ways to add a soothing view to a home.


Natural Shapes and Forms – Obviously not all buildings have natural form in their design, but we can use patterns from nature as decorative motifs. Think of art pieces reflecting an evergreen tree, fern, or salmon – or another symbols to reflect your particular region.


Order and Complexity – Nature is orderly, but quite complex in the detail. Consider while every leaf has a similar shape, the size varies. Bring nature’s designs and principles indoors.


The number one rule of biophilic design – go outside and understand your surroundings first. Observe, listen, and learn about your ecosystem – then bring nature’s lessons and gifts inside.


If you enjoyed reading about Biophilic Design, you’ll likely enjoy this article, written by Bernie, What can we learn from Nature? Everything! 

Filed under: Lifestyles | Nature | News