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Biophilic Design

By March 31, 2015October 2nd, 2019Design Advice & Inspiration, Design

Absolute Project Management attended Eco Build 2015 in London where we saw a great talk on Biophilic Design by Oliver Heath – Founder of Health Design and Author of Urban Eco Chic.

When you close your eyes and imagine your dream house, what do you see outside?

Most of us see nature; trees, water, space and birds. Biophilic design is a human approach to design, which seeks to provide for our basic needs as well as satisfying our inherent attraction to nature.

Ideal Landscape

Through thousands of years of evolution we are predisposed to find our ideal landscapes beautiful, otherwise known as Savannah theory.  This is where we seek out all the elements of a landscape which meets all our basic needs:

  • Ideally allowing a high vantage point in order to see approaching danger/ prey
  • Full view of the sky:
    • to see birds of prey and approaching weather (so you know when to take shelter)
    • natural light for circadian rhythms
  • Natural vegetation + animals visible- for food and shelter
  • Visible water – for drinking+ washing.

Example of how Biophilic design is used in unexpected places: Westfield shopping centre

  • higher vantage points
  • open ceilings with views of the sky
  • structures which look like trees
  • dappled light
  • flooring emulates the appearance of water
  • food vendors easily visible.

All these elements trick our minds into seeing our ‘ideal’ landscape, encouraging people to spend more time there.

Biophilic design – the facts  

How it makes spaces better for your health, happiness and productivity:


  • Children learn 20-25% faster in Natural Daylight (this is also claimed to reduce the effects of ADHD)
  • St Mary’s Infant School Oxfordshire, UK by Jessop and Cook Architects is a good example of Biophilic design in schools.
  • Spaces which are naturally lit and ventilated consume much less energy as well as promoting healthy lifestyles, which in turn mean less sickness saving further money and resources.


  • Hospitals where patients have views of natural landscape have shown a 8.5% reduced duration of stay as well as 22% less pain medication.
  • Shinrin Koku – Japanese theory of walking through gardens for healing has been shown to have positive effects.
  • Economically it makes sense – if people heal quicker in biophilically designed spaces, these hospitals will have fewer patients overall and will produce happier, healthier people


  • Offices with elements such as natural light, plants, etc. have been shown to produce 8% higher productivity
  • Workers reported 13% higher levels of wellbeing in Biophilic designed spaces.
  • Creativity is boosted in the UK by the colours purple and green…
  • From an economic standpoint it makes sense to use design to increase the productivity and happiness of your workers as they are sick less, and you will retain workers.

Incorporating the priniciples of Biophilic Design into your home:

  1. Views out onto dynamic nature
  • use your outside space, however small, to grow decorative plants and, with a bit more effort, vegetables, fruits or herbs
  • even if you dont have a garden, plant pots or window boxes on the window sill will do the trick
  • fit a bird feeder or bird box where you can see it
  • houseplants – specially resilient species such as Kentia Palms Cactuses – bring nature and a change of texture inside

  1. Natural light – views of natural light support our circadian rhythms 
  • keep curtains/blinds open during daylight hours
  • paint walls in light colours to maximise light into your space
  • mirrors are really useful in reflecting and dispersing light in lower ground flats/areas
  • use exterior mirrors to bounce light from exterior walls back in your windows


  1. Natural patterns, products and textures – people tend to find it pleasurable/rewarding to touch/feel natural materials – the ‘haptic’ experience
  • choose materials such as timber, leather and stone for furniture
  • use wool, cotton, linen or silk rather than artificial fabrics for soft furnishings
  • pick natural colours such as greens and patterns of leaves and flowers

  1. Recuperation spaces – people need space to rest, reflect and socialise
  • make your home comfortable by adding cushions, throws and easy chairs which invite people to rest and relax
  • create quiet/still areas – in a separate room or by using screens/careful positioning of furniture – ideally away from screens

If you would like some help and advice on making you home more Biophilic, please get in touch Organising renovations from start to finish is what we do.


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