Do You Know the Six Principles of Biophilic Design?

Human beings are designed to be surrounded by nature for a number of obvious and not so obvious reasons. Clearly, humans require things from nature such as food, water, shelter, and natural resources. Beyond those, interactions with nature actually impact physical, emotional, and mental health and wellness. This has been recognised in the building and interior design industry and is the main focus of the biophilic design movement.

What is Biophilic Design?


Biophilic design is a building and interior design concept that relies on the idea of building and nurturing the relationship between humans and nature. While the concept has been around since 1994, it wasn’t until 2014 that the concept began gaining popularity. It was proven that the human connection to nature in everyday life increases health and wellness through improved mood and cognitive function and reduced stress. There are six principles of biophilic design that are proven to provide the most beneficial impact in a space.


Six Principles of Biophilic Design


Environmental Features


Biophilic design incorporates the use of natural environmental features as part of the architecture. This includes elements such as “sunlight, fresh air, plants, animals, water, soils, landscapes, natural colours, and natural materials such as wood and stone” according to expert Stephen R. Kellert, professor emeritus, at Yale University.


Natural Shapes and Forms


Beyond the use of natural materials, biophilic interiors utilise shapes found in nature such as animal forms, botanical forms, or insect forms. This can be incorporated into biophilic designs on a large-scale or small-scale.


Natural or Restorative Patterns and Processes


Natural patterns, functions, and principles are instrumental in the development of humans. Processes that stimulate sight, sound, smell, and touch are key elements in maximising the benefits of interior biophilic design. For example, preserved moss walls provide an enticing aesthetic, air purification, and moisture stabilisation qualities and are proven to improve human mental and physical health.


Light and Space


One natural element that can be overlooked is perhaps one of the most important: light and space. It is proven that the integration of natural light and space in interior designs creates a sense of being in a natural setting that triggers a positive response.


Place-Based Relationships


According to Professor Kellert, placed-based relationships in biophilic design refer to the “distinctive geographical, ecological, and cultural characteristics of particular places and localities.” In general, the use of geographic or landscape features or connections to historic traditions instills a sense of connection, healing, or a similar emotion.


Evolved Human Relationships to Nature


In the end, a biophilic design should create a sense of nature that stimulates the biological tendencies to perceive our environment dynamically and promote living growth and development.

The ultimate goal of biophilic interior design is to integrate natural elements into artificial structures that create a sense of connection. This is believed to be a built-up genetic connection created by our dependence on nature for thousands of years. The six principles ensure that every biophilic interior is designed to create and nurture that connection.



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