Biophilic Design is not a trend, but a necessity


We have already discussed the topic of Biophilic Design several times, which is an innovative and scientific approach to the design of spaces at all scales of application: buildings, parts of them, neighbourhoods and entire cities.
This discipline translates the human being's innate passion for Nature (= biophilia) into the built environment to ensure and enhance the psycho-physical health of its users.

Before the pandemic, only a few had heard of it, and those who were already dealing with it were often looked upon with some suspicion. Things have significantly changed since then.

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In fact, over the past three years, there has been an explosion of interest in Nature. The two terms 'biophilia' and 'Biophilic Design' are now widely used in various fields: primarily in interior design and architecture, but also in fashion, photography, arts, and even in the food industry.

However, when words are not used carefully and wisely, or even inappropriately, the boundaries and meanings become increasingly blurred, losing their original value. This is precisely what is happening to the concept of 'sustainability'.

Biophilic design seems destined to suffer exactly the same fate because it is now often confused with “green architecture”, referring solely to the greening of buildings. This limited interpretation probably results from an incomplete definition of Nature.
We are well aware that Nature does not only consist of vegetation!

Currently, Biophilic Design is classified by many as a passing trend. We know that a trend is a behaviour that varies over time and concerns, for example, that relates to ways of life, customs, etc. It is a behavioral pattern imposed by influential individuals or groups. It is a pattern of behaviour imposed by prestigious individuals or groups or by style creators. We know that trends and fads are ephemeral and pass quickly enough to give way to new inventions and styles. In this context, Coco Chanel's words come to mind: "Fashion is made to go out of fashion."

Over time, the name may change, but the essence of Biophilic Design cannot be ephemeral and transient. It relates to our connection with Nature, which has developed during the long years of our evolutionary history spent in the wild environments and still influences and directs our physiological and psychological responses, emotions, actions, thoughts and general well-being. Numerous daily decisions and gestures are guided by our biology and come from our ancestors who adapted to the environments in which they had to survive and thrive. Even the choice of where we live is not random and has deep evolutionary roots.



Therefore, without a doubt, the subject of Nature and our relationship with it cannot be just a “current fashion” but underlies many choices we make every day.
For this reason, the Man-Nature link needs to be studied and explored in depth, above all, by those who intervene in physical environments: architects, designers, various technicians, and other professionals in the industry.

Perhaps the time has come to start breaking out of the usual comfortable belief system and approach the design of everyday living spaces in a more open manner and, above all, with the help of a multidisciplinary methodology.
We should set ourselves the goal of starting to provide answers to questions concerning our species and how we can interact with the natural and artificial world in a harmonious manner.

At the moment, only a small group of enthusiasts and experts are working on scientifically oriented Biophilic Design, but I am confident that it will increasingly become part of the normal practice of architecture and design.
We must always remember that biophilia concerns each of us, and biophilic environments are designed to enhance the psycho-physical well-being of all people who feel the desire or need to find a new way to live better in built environments and cities. Our homes and buildings, where we spend a significant portion of our lives, could become more pleasant and “human-friendly”.

I would like to conclude with the often-quoted words of one of the pioneers of modern architecture, Austrian Adolf Loos (1870-1933), in his essay Architektur:

“The house has to please everyone, contrary to the work of art, which does not. The work of art is a private matter for the artist. The house is not. The work of art is brought into the world without a direct need for it. The house satisfies a requirement…“.


This need goes beyond the concept of a 'safe shelter' to live in, but the conscious application of Biophilic Design can truly improve our lives!

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Bettina Bolten, Biophilic design consultant

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