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Biophilic Design Elements: How to Incorporate Nature into the Built Environment

March 29, 2023

Biophilic design is an approach to architecture and interior design that aims to incorporate nature into the built environment. The term "biophilia" was first coined by biologist Edward O. Wilson in the 1980s, who defined it as "the innate human attraction to, and affiliation with, other living organisms." Biophilic design incorporates principles of sustainability and environmentalism, as well as human psychology and neuroscience, to create spaces that foster wellness, productivity, and creativity.

Several key biophilic design elements can be incorporated into any building or interior space to create a more nature-inspired environment.

Natural Light

One of the most important biophilic design elements is natural light. Exposure to natural light has been linked to improved mood, productivity, and sleep quality. In fact, studies have shown that workers in buildings with windows and natural light reported higher job satisfaction and productivity than those in windowless buildings.

When designing or renovating a space, consider how natural light can be maximized. This might involve adding more windows, skylights, or light tubes, or using reflective surfaces and light-colored walls to bounce natural light throughout a space.

Lush Vegetation

Another key biophilic design element is vegetation. Studies have shown that adding plants to an interior space can improve air quality, reduce stress, and boost creativity. In fact, plants have been shown to be so beneficial to human health and well-being that some hospitals have incorporated greenery into patient rooms to aid in recovery.

When incorporating vegetation into a space, consider using a mix of large and small plants to create variety and interest. Indoor trees, such as fiddle leaf figs or palms, can add visual height and drama, while smaller plants can be arranged in groupings on shelves or tables.

Natural Materials

Using natural materials is another way to bring the outside in. Consider incorporating materials like wood, stone, or natural fibers into your design to add texture and warmth. These materials can help to create a more authentic and organic feel to a space.

In addition to adding natural materials, consider using materials that have a low environmental impact, such as reclaimed or recycled wood, or sustainable cork or bamboo flooring.

Water Features

Adding a water feature to a space, such as a fountain or aquarium, can create a calming, soothing atmosphere. The sound of running water has been shown to reduce stress and enhance relaxation.

When incorporating a water feature, be sure to consider the size and scale of the feature in relation to the space. A large fountain or aquarium may be overwhelming in a small space, while a small fountain or tabletop aquarium can add just the right amount of tranquility.

Views of Nature

Providing views of nature is another important biophilic design element. Research has shown that being able to see nature, even if it’s just a green space or a tree outside a window, can reduce stress and improve mood.

When designing or renovating a space, consider the placement of windows and the views they provide. If possible, position windows to capture the best views of trees, plants, or other natural features.


What are the benefits of biophilic design?

Biophilic design has been shown to have numerous benefits, including improved air quality, reduced stress, increased creativity, and improved mood and productivity.

How can I incorporate nature into my home or office?

There are several ways to incorporate nature into a home or office, including adding plants, using natural materials, maximizing natural light, providing views of nature, and adding water features.

Do I need a large space to incorporate biophilic design?

No, biophilic design can be incorporated into any size space. Even small touches, such as adding plants or using natural materials, can make a big difference in creating a more nature-inspired environment.

Is biophilic design expensive?

It doesn't have to be. Many biophilic design elements, such as adding plants or maximizing natural light, can be done inexpensively. Using recycled or reclaimed materials can also be a cost-effective way to incorporate natural elements into a space.

Can biophilic design be incorporated into any style of architecture or interior design?

Yes, biophilic design can be incorporated into any style of architecture or interior design. Whether you prefer a modern, minimalist aesthetic or a more traditional, ornate look, there are biophilic design elements that can be incorporated into any design style.


I enjoy designing and curating experiences both virtually and in 3-dimensional reality.
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