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Biophilic Design Elements

Biophilic Design Is Good Design

It’s intuitive and fundamental to good design – not a bolt-on. Good architecture always exhibits the fundamental principles of biophilic design even if not considered in a formal way.

It can be helpful to refer to a biophilic design framework or theory, however, it’s important to remember that there is no single ‘checklist’ for integrating biophilic design into a project.

A thorough understanding of the philosophy should underpin every decision to make a project truly biophilic. 

Living Future programs are guided by the ideas of Stephen Kellert and Elizabeth Calabrese in The Practice of Biophilic Design. This is one of several works that outline biophilic design theory. Each speaks to different elements and characteristics of biophilic design and will broaden understanding.

Biophilic Design Principles

The promotion of creating moments and opportunities for positive interaction between people and nature that encourage an expanded sense of relationship and responsibility for human and natural communities.

Design should encourage an emotional attachment to particular settings and places.

Maximising repeated and sustained engagement with nature throughout the entire experience of a space.

A focus on human adaptations to the natural environment that improves physical and mental health and wellbeing.

Design should encourage an emotional connection to particular settings and places.

Biophilic Design Elements

Our experience of nature is distilled into elements of biophilic design. They represent characteristics of the natural environment and how we interact with it. The elements are the building blocks of biophilic design and they are grouped into three categories.

Direct Nature

Opportunities to directly interact with natural environmental features such as natural light, air, plants, animals and water.

Natural Patterns

Incorporating representations of nature and the natural process in design. For example, choosing materials that patina to express the passing of time in space.

Place & Culture

Binding the design to a sense of place by embedding local ecology and culture.

Biophilic design elements aren’t items to be added or checked off a list. They’re key principles that should inspire and inform a project’s design strategy. A deep understanding of the elements enables designers to truly integrate biophilic design into every aspect of a project, thus fulfilling the principle of ‘repeated and sustained engagement with nature’.