What is Biophilic Design?

In the urban environment where we usually go, it seems as if our connection with nature has completely disappeared. We spend an estimated 11 hours a day on technology and usually spend 93% of our time indoors. Stress, aggression and depression are aggravated by this. This has a negative impact especially in office buildings. Poor health and reduced wellbeing lead to poor performance, low productivity, absenteeism and increased costs. 

Biophilic design can help improve productivity and reduce stress and even pain. Biophilia’ literally means the love for nature and life. It is the inextricable bond between man and nature. Biophilic design uses aspects of nature to restore the bond between man and nature.By consciously using or imitating natural elements in interior design, we unconsciously reconnect with nature. Even simple natural elements in the workspace can have a huge impact on how employees feel. It improves how happy, creative and productive they are at work. 

Biophilic design gives us 14 scientifically proven tools to bring natural elements back into the built environment. These are divided into the following 3 categories.


This is more than just placing a few plants in space. It is about imitating natural aspects. This category contains 7 parts that you can apply directly in the interior:

1. Visual connection with nature:

The first aspect is about the view of greenery. Such as views of a garden, plants, green walls and green roofs. Research (Ulrich et al) has shown that imitation of nature also has a positive effect on stress reduction and even pain reduction. A natural wall print, for example, is an affordable solution

2. Non-visual connection with nature:

Interventions that remind our other senses (except eyes) of nature. Sounds, touches, smells and tastes. This can easily be done, for example, by imitating natural sounds with a sound system.

3. Non-rhythmic sensory stimuli:

These stimuli are about unpredictable movements, such as the movement of grass or leaves in the wind or ripples on the water. This is a challenging part to bring back into an office interior.

4. Temperature and airflow variability: 

Tangible variations in humidity, airflow and air temperature are reminiscent of the outside air. This can be imitated in an office with air currents. A breeze gives a pleasant summer recollection, but don’t exaggerate it; no one is waiting for papers to blow away. It’s also nice if there is some diversity of temperature within the office, where employees can choose where they want to work.

5. Presence of water:

Water has an enormous attraction. Touching, seeing or hearing water makes employees feel good. Pay attention to hygiene; water can also form a basis for certain bacteria.

6. Dynamic and diffuse light: 

Mimicking light and shadow variation found in nature. Employees’ biorhythms are optimised by applying lighting that imitates daylight variation, this is called circadian lighting.

7. Connection with natural systems: 

The processes in nature, such as the changing of seasons, are emphasized. This can easily be done by placing changing art on the walls.


Here the smaller details of nature are imitated using textiles, art, lighting, shapes or patterns.

8. Biomorphic shapes and patterns: 

This refers to patterns and patterns from nature. You can think of floral patterns or other prints on carpets or fabrics for example.

9. Material connection with nature: 

Natural materials and textures that give a feeling of nature, such as wood and wool.

10. Complexity and arrangement: 

In nature there is a lot of symmetry and proportion, such as the Reflecting these proportions creates a recognition in the human brain, which in turn creates peace and a sense of security. You can, for example, use a symmetrical glass wall or certain floor patterns.


The last category of Biophilic design describes the feeling of space, such as shelter, wide views and adventurous areas.

11. Prospect: 

Balconies, extra-large windows or voids encourage employees to look beyond their computer and phone screen. This has an enriching effect and is good for the eyes.

12. Refuge: 

The ability to withdraw from an open-plan office, which is safe and sheltered, without losing full visual contact. Lounge areas are suitable for this, but a lockable phone booth also provides a sense of privacy.

13. Mystery: 

Discovering things brings out the child in us and makes a space more exciting. Like a door that is ajar, through which you would like to peek. In an office you can make unexpected views through. But you can also think of a regularly changing art collection to surprise the staff.

14. Risk/Peril: 

A little bit of fear or tension gives us the feeling that we are alive. For some, bunjee jumping is exciting and for others it’s walking on a glass floor. A predictable environment becomes boring and can contribute to a bore-out. The trick is to generate an exciting but not dangerous situation in the office. Height differences, footbridges or ceiling elements are means to achieve this.

The above 14 points briefly describe the patterns of Biophilic design. For more information about Biophilic design, you can download the entire report free of charge at http://www.biophilicdesign.net/.

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