6 Ways to Use Biophilic Design in Your Home

What is biophilic design and why it's trending.

Do you love to spend a few hours outside to get rid of apartment anxiety? Do you seek shelter in nature despite having all the indoor luxuries? Do hiking, mountaineering, and camping refresh your mood? If so, it’s likely an instinct that reminds you of the time when our ancestors existed solely in a natural environment.

According to the EPA, Americans spend 90% of their time indoors which can compromise health and negatively impact social behavior. Indeed, human connection with the natural world is crucial for physical and psychological health. Incorporating biophilic designs in your home and outdoor spaces can provide you with the solution to improve your quality of life and enjoy a natural environment in your living space.

Biophilic design means incorporating aspects of nature into living spaces to contribute to human health and productivity.

Want to know more about the concept, elements, and ways to use biophilic design? Read on.

What is the Concept of Biophilic Design?

The intrinsic human connection with nature’s world is called biophilia. New York-based environmental consulting firm, Terrapin Bright Green, defines the concept of biophilic deign as the practice of building structures to support human health and wellness in the built environment.

Biophilic designs transform the dream of connecting people to nature into reality. It allows you to have plenty of fresh air and daylight that helps to balance your circadian rhythm. Studies show that human interaction with nature improves physical and psychological well-being.


What are the Elements of Biophilic Design?

Architects and design professionals identify six elements of biophilic design. Applying these elements, or the basic principles, in your home and outdoor living space helps to bridge the gap between our indoor environment and the natural world.

  • Environmental Features

    A repeated and sustained engagement with nature is the basic principle of biophilic design. These designs facilitate the human-nature connection by direct contact with vegetation in and around the built environment. So, biophilic designs include plants to reduce stress, change the mood, and improve comfort and healing creating interior and exterior nature-filled spaces to encourage engagement with nature.

    Introducing animals to your living space by incorporating aquariums, green roofs, and garden feeders will help you achieve the effect, too.

  • Natural Patterns and Processes

    In biophilic design stone, wood, natural fabrics, and furnishings are incorporated into buildings to mimic our closeness to nature. Layering in these materials can be mentally stimulating for people by evoking the five senses. Using natural materials and patterns, like patinaed copper and honeycomb, can have a therapeutic effect in interior environments and are recommended best practices for hospitals and rehabilitation centers.

    For instance, water evokes all the senses and is used in biophilic designs in the form of aquariums, wetlands, and fountains.

  • Natural Shapes and Forms

    Including natural shapes and forms in architecture and design can make it more appealing and inviting. Today, the materials used for construction are oriented toward straight lines and right angles. The use of rounded edges and natural shapes can be very soothing.

    In biophilic designs the patterns of nature, like flowers, honeycomb patterns, and ripples found in water, are used as motifs for structures and décor.


  • Connecting Ecology and Biogeographical Features

    The experience of cultural and ecological attachment to a place is also an illuminating element of biophilic design. Cultural identity adds a locations’ history into the design. Ecological attachment is achieved by introducing native (local) plants, grasses, groundcovers, trees, and shrubs.

  • Stimulation of Natural Light and Air

    Exposure to daylight helps balance your circadian rhythm. So, biophilic design considers the impacts of different qualities of light and spatial relationships. These spatial techniques might use small, sheltered nooks with sunlight to create cosy settings that allow you to spend more time outdoors while feeling protected.

    Areas without access to natural light and air can benefit from the addition of French doors, windows, glass elements and atriums, skylights, and reflective materials to achieve the calming principles of biophilic design.

  • Perspective and Refuge

    Biophilic designs regard refuge, a building’s ability to provide a comfortable and safe interior, by providing things like dimmer lighting, seating, and alcoves. At the same time, the designs offer an ability to observe surroundings and movement to survey the area in a sheltered environment without fear.

Why Use Biophilic Designs?

With the advancement of technology, our lifestyles are moving away from nature. Working indoors for long hours deprives you of interacting with nature which can have negative impacts on your psyche and health. Biophilic designs allow you to enjoy natural beauty in your home, workplace, even in health care spaces. There are many benefits of using biophilic design strategies.

10 Reasons to Use Biophilic Design Principles

  • Reduce stress
  • Improve mood
  • Enhance the feeling of well-being
  • Promote healing and restoration
  • Reduce fatigue
  • Increase productivity
  • Calming
  • Improve Circadian rhythm
  • Greater engagement
  • Improve human-nature interaction

Most Well-Known Examples of Biophilic Designs in the US

Banner - University Medical Center’s New Patient Tower

In Tucson, Ariz., designers and architects have infused the renovation of Banners University’s new patient tower with biophilic design. The renovation techniques ensure the availability of abundant natural light, the inclusion of gardens with native paintings, walking paths, and ample seating. The colors, patterns, and design of the project are influenced by the Sonoran Desert and Tucson’s history.

The Spheres

In Seatlle, Wash., Amazon has created an oasis in the heart of the urban environment for the well-being of its employees. The Spheres building includes two domes containing more than 40,000 plants from 30 different countries. It's a model example of biophilic design that provides a soothing retreat for respite, inspiration, and reflection for visitors and employees.

6 Ways to Use Biophilic Design in Your Home

The increased scope of technology and, in some cases, poor urban planning means limited access to parks and other natural habitats which is why many people want to create a biophilic environment in their homes. There are professionals for the service, of course. But, read on if you want to know how DIY your biophilic design.

  1. Allow Fresh Air and Daylight

    Windows are the mechanism to let the fresh air and daylight enter the home, the bigger, the better. So, incorporate large windows to keep in touch with your surroundings and enjoy the fresh air. Whether you have a small line of trees dividing your property from your neighbors’ or mature trees shading the roofline, large windows keep you physiologically connected and aware of nature, its changing daylight patterns, and the weather.

    If you are fortunate to live near an ocean, lake, or creek, add floor-to-ceiling windows and allow nature to permeate your home.

  2. Experience Nature Through the Tactile Sense

    Though sight is most important for making a connection with nature, you can’t ignore the importance of the tactile sense. You can better interact with nature by using natural materials for home décor whenever possible. Use natural fibers like leather, silk, and jute for decorating and other interior items. Also, consider using cork, wood, or bamboo flooring instead of carpet.

  3. Introduce Water Elements

    Water acts as a psychological stimulant for the human body. The sound of flowing water in the form of rain, river, streams creates a soothing affect on our mood and invokes the five senses. Add water elements like fountains and waterfalls to interiors for enhanced biophilic design.

  4. Add Plants Everywhere

    80% of the Earth’s biomass is made from plants. Plants add life and color to your home, reduce stress, and improve mood. Did you know that plants can also add to humidity in homes through evapotranspiration?

    You can place air-purifying plants, bonsai, lilies, succulents, terrariums, grow frames, moss wall art, ferns, smart garden, and smart hydro planters in your interiors. You’ll enjoy not only the greenery but also aesthetic beauty, which is a crucial element of biophilic design, by adding plants indoors. Living walls, blooming tables, and plant furniture are the best ways to create a successful biophilic space.

  5. Introduce Vegetation to South Facing Windows

    You can enjoy homegrown herbs, sprouts, microgreens by planting them in pots and placing them on a south-facing windowsill. You can also add a greenhouse close to the south-facing side of your house to grow plants year-round. It will help increase the thermal performance of your home and create a functional biophilic design.

  6. Arrange an Amazing Outdoor Space

    A main focus of biophilic architecture and design is to arrange a unique outdoor space where you can sit, look at the sky, enjoy the greenery, and see the sunset. Outdoor patios, decks, balconies, and exterior dining rooms allow you to spend a relaxing time away from electronic gadgets. You can also enjoy watching cloud formations, rain, searching for galaxies, shooting stars, and the moon.

Final Thoughts

Biophilic designs allow us to enjoy nature when we can’t get outside. Our ancestors existed in nature for thousands of years. We love exploring forests, mountains, beaches, oceans. And even though we have evolved this instinct remains. Biophilic design helps address this issue by restoring the innate connection of human beings to nature. You can add biophilic designs to your home by following the ideas mentioned in the post.


https://www.terrapinbrightgreen.com/reports/14-patterns, https://www.bdcnetwork.com/blog/biophilic-design-what-it-why-it-matters-and-how-do-we-use-it, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biophilic_design, https://living-future.org/biophilic-design/, https://planetark.org/newsroom/news/9-amazing-buildings-that-use-nature-connected-design, https://www.biophilic-design.com/_files/ugd/21459d_81ccb84caf6d4bee8195f9b5af92d8f4.pdf, https://www.epa.gov/report-environment/indoor-air-quality#:~:text=Americans%2C%20on%20average%2C%20spend%20approximately,higher%20than%20typical%20outdoor%20concentrations