Biophilic Design Philosophy Explained (2024)

Biophilic Design Philosophy Explained (1)

What's biophilic design?

Biophilic design is a way of merging the boundaries between outside and inside. It's a design philosophy centered around the use of natural elements like plants, wood, water, and natural light.

The International Living Future Institute further defines the style: "biophilic design is the practice of connecting people and nature within our built environments and communities."

But it’s also so much more.

Biophilic design can increase a designed space's impact on its inhabitants. Being in a space inspired by nature can promote well-being and productivity. In fact, the practice may even reduce a patient's recovery time in a health care facility!

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The Kitchen Bijenkorf | Image courtesy of i29

Biophilic design is a beautiful marriage between form and function. In this post, we'll be discussing how biophilic design can inspire your next interior design, and we'll also be looking at some tips to create the trending designs in Vectorworks!

Biophilic Design Inspiration

While plants and other natural elements in an interior design are nothing new, biophilic design takes it one step further. It's not a means of decorating a space; it's a philosophy that requires necessary planning on your part.

Philosophies like biophilic design are a great starting point when beginning a new project. They might inspire you to try something you've never done before, or they may even inspire you to completely rethink what you can do with a design!

"There are so many design styles to choose from. They can have a huge influence on a design whether it’s the client that gets inspired or the designer working on the project," said Nicole Cave, interior designer and Vectorworks expert.

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Vodelgym West | Image courtesy of Tank

When taking inspiration from design philosophies, it's important to remember that you don't have to fully replicate the style. Instead, take pieces from it. Mix and match elements with your own unique perspective.

So with biophilic design, remember that you don't have to build a whole temperate forest into your next project. Depending on the climate you're designing in, this may not even be possible!

Start small. Dedicate a wall to a "vertical garden," adjust your floor plan to allow for better natural light, or simply begin integrating more natural shapes into your design.

How to Create Biophilic Designs in Vectorworks

You may be wondering, "How do I create biophilic interiors?" Well, it's easier than you might suspect. Vectorworks will give you all the freedom you need to create biophilic designs!

Likely, your first consideration will be what materials you’re using in your environment. Within Vectorworks, you'll have access to a tremendous number of materials; and you can add additional realism to these materials by utilizing the Texture tool. With textures, you can carefully examine the visual impact different kinds of wood, greenery, and other materials will have on the aesthetics of your design.

When integrating natural greenery into your design, you’ll want to use symbols and the RenderMall Plant tool to bring your biophilic design to life.

Symbols are a great way to figure out the impact plants, bushes, or trees may have on the spatial relations of your design, while RenderMall Plants on the other hand, serve a more aesthetic purpose. These plants are beautiful 3D elements that will raise the overall quality of your rendering or presentation.

But, as we’ve mentioned, biophilic design isn’t just about incorporating plants into your design. The use of organic shapes is also an important part of this design philosophy.

You can easily create natural, free-flowing shapes in Vectorworks using NURBS (non-uniform rational basis spline) modeling. NURBS modeling can be done through the Convert to NURBS command, which can be applied to nearly any piece of geometry. "Even with something as basic as an extruded rectangle, you can create some really interesting shapes by simply converting it to NURBS and then reshaping it," said Neil Barman, Vectorworks Architect product specialist.

The 3D Power Pack under the Model drop-down menu contains a variety of NURBS-related commands. "These commands make a NURBS curve or surface do things for you," Barman said. "You can create draping surfaces, helixes, spirals, etcetera."

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If you want greater detail in your natural design elements — for example, assorted data and scientific names — you’ll need to collaborate with a landscape designer. Or, you can make the upgrade to Vectorworks Design Suite, which has the capabilities of Vectorworks Architect, Landmark, and Spotlight.

And, if you’re still looking for more ways to spark your creativity, check out this post on five cinematic masterpieces that’ll inspire your next design to be just that: a masterpiece!

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Biophilic Design Philosophy Explained (2024)


What is the principle of biophilic design? ›

Simply put, the biophilic design element of environmental features relates to characteristics of the natural world found in the built environment. People are naturally drawn to features of the natural environment such as plants, animals and natural materials.

What is the psychology behind biophilic design? ›

The biophilia hypothesis posits an innate biological and genetic connection between human and nature, including an emotional dimension to this connection. Biophilic design builds on this hypothesis in an attempt to design human-nature connections into the built environment.

What is the biophilic design hypothesis? ›

The biophilia hypothesis (also called BET) suggests that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life. Edward O. Wilson introduced and popularized the hypothesis in his book, Biophilia (1984). He defines biophilia as "the urge to affiliate with other forms of life".

What are the three pillars of biophilic design? ›

It is just now that design professionals and researchers are pulling these together en masse and presenting them under the umbrella of biophilic design. There are three pillars of Biophilic Design: Nature in the Space, Nature of the Space and Natural Analogues.

What is the biophilic philosophy? ›

It's a design philosophy centered around the use of natural elements like plants, wood, water, and natural light. The International Living Future Institute further defines the style: "biophilic design is the practice of connecting people and nature within our built environments and communities."

What is the theory of biophilic? ›

The biophilia hypothesis is the belief that humans are genetically predisposed to be attracted to nature. It states that all humans inherently love the natural world. This idea that we are drawn to and need nature was first put forth by a man named Edward O. Wilson in his book, Biophilia, published in 1984.

What is the critique of biophilic design? ›

In line with such arguments, this review identifies two main shortcomings of Biophilic design and its frameworks: While Biophilic design as a design approach aims to restore and enhance the Nature experiences within the built environment, the first limitation that this paper has identified is how the existing extant ...

What is the aim of biophilic design? ›

Biophilic Design is a human centred approach aimed at improving our connection to nature and natural processes in the buildings that we live and work. This improved connection can benefit our wellbeing by reducing stress and improving recuperation – helping to cut costs and improve outcomes in the built environment.

Who is the father of biophilic design? ›

Stephen Kellert is known as a father of biophilic design because of his widely accepted principles and framework around the idea.

What is the structural concept of biophilic design? ›

Biophilic design is a concept used within the building industry to increase occupant connectivity to the natural environment through the use of direct nature, indirect nature, and space and place conditions.

What is biophilia in simple terms? ›

The word biophilia originates from the Greek, 'philia' meaning 'love of'. It literally means a love of life or living things. Humans have a deeply engrained love of nature which is an intuitive and natural drive imprinted into our DNA.

What is biophilic principles? ›

Biophilia is the inherent human inclination to affiliate with nature that even in the modern world. continues to be critical to people's physical and mental health and wellbeing (Wilson 1986, Kellert and Wilson 1993, Kellert 1997, 2012).

Who is a biophilic person? ›

noun. bio·​phil·​ia ˌbī-ō-ˈfi-lē-ə -ˈfēl-yə : a hypothetical human tendency to interact or be closely associated with other forms of life in nature : a desire or tendency to commune with nature. Biophilia is the term coined by the Harvard naturalist Dr.

How does biophilic design help mental health? ›

Improved Mood: The presence of plants and nature indoors has been associated with enhanced mood and increased feelings of happiness and contentment. Enhanced Cognitive Function: Exposure to nature and natural elements has been shown to improve cognitive function, including memory, attention, and problem-solving skills.

What are the principles of biophilic urbanism? ›

By prioritising human-scale design, walkability, and access to nature, biophilic urbanism aims to create healthier, more resilient cities that nurture both people and the planet.

What are the principles of design in nature? ›

The principles of design are balance, emphasis, movement, pattern, repetition, proportion, rhythm, variety, and unity. These words can provide an interesting vocabulary for thinking about and discussing what we see in nature.

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