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Biophilic Interiors: Enhancing Architecture with Nature

CEO Khai Intela
Six Square House / Young Projects. Image © Alan Tansay Humans have an innate connection to nature. The crackling sound of fire, the smell of fresh rain on soil, the healing characteristics of plants, and...

Biophilic Interiors: 21 Projects that Blend Architecture with Nature - Image 1 of 25 Six Square House / Young Projects. Image © Alan Tansay

Humans have an innate connection to nature. The crackling sound of fire, the smell of fresh rain on soil, the healing characteristics of plants, and the color green all evoke positive responses. In our current environmental crisis and rapidly urbanizing world, architects have shifted their focus to eco-conscious projects that bring people closer to nature. They have explored various approaches, such as incorporating recycled materials, designing around sun orientation, and utilizing rammed earth structures. However, the most effective way to establish a biological connection with nature is through biophilia and the concept of "bringing the outdoors in" through design.

By definition, biophilic design promotes wellbeing by fostering a relationship between nature, human biology, and the built environment. This approach involves using natural materials, incorporating greenery, maximizing natural light, and allowing for natural ventilation. The successful application of biophilic design principles stimulates physical, mental, and behavioral benefits. Physically, it can improve fitness, lower blood pressure, and reduce illness symptoms. Mentally, it enhances motivation, productivity, creativity, and reduces stress and anxiety. Additionally, it can lead to behavioral and cognitive changes, such as improved coping skills, increased attention span, and enhanced social interaction.

Biophilic Interiors: 21 Projects that Blend Architecture with Nature - Image 25 of 25 POP-UP House / FIGR Architecture & Design. Image © Tom Blachford

For decades, scientists, researchers, architects, and designers have collaboratively explored how to utilize the aspects of nature that most impact our relationship with the built environment. Many theorists categorize biophilic design principles into three categories: nature in the space, nature of the space, and natural analogues. These categories determine the physical, visual, and emotional connection to the natural world. It is crucial to consider materials, light, and ventilation when creating biophilic spaces. However, it is often overlooked that biophilic design should also be locally appropriate for the specific surroundings of each project.

Let's explore 21 projects that prioritize human wellbeing, reinforce biophilia, and establish a strong connection between nature, human biology, and the built environment.

Material Selection

In response to environmental crises and a growing focus on wellbeing, architects are turning to environmentally-conscious architecture starting with the materials they use. Earth and its resources have been used for thousands of years to construct enduring structures. Recent studies have revealed the positive cognitive and physiological responses these materials can evoke. Architects are now extracting materials from local terrain with minimal processing, reflecting the local geology to establish authenticity and a sense of place, as well as promoting sustainable architecture.

  • The Wendy House / Earthscape Studio Biophilic Interiors: 21 Projects that Blend Architecture with Nature - Image 10 of 25 Image © Syam Sreesylam

  • TECLA Technology and Clay 3D Printed House / Mario Cucinella Architects Biophilic Interiors: 21 Projects that Blend Architecture with Nature - Image 3 of 25 Image © Iago Corazza

  • Sunyata Eco Hotel / Design Kacheri

Nature within the Space

A common way architects integrate biophilic elements in their interiors is through the incorporation of greenery, water features, and fire elements. Plants play a vital role in biophilic design, and their selection is based on climate conditions, geographic characteristics, and availability to ensure an authentic connection to the surroundings. Water features such as water walls, aquariums, ponds, fountains, and streams have been shown to reduce stress, increase tranquility and concentration, and lower heart rate.

  • Wyndham Clubhouse / MIA Design Studio Biophilic Interiors: 21 Projects that Blend Architecture with Nature - Image 2 of 25 Image © Trieu Chien

  • Greenary Residence / Carlo Ratti Associati Biophilic Interiors: 21 Projects that Blend Architecture with Nature - Image 4 of 25 Image © Delfino Sisto Legnani and Alessandro Saletta from DSL Studio

  • Nha Khoa Nu Cuoi Viet Dental Clinic / BHA studio Biophilic Interiors: 21 Projects that Blend Architecture with Nature - Image 11 of 25 Image © Hoang Le

Lighting

Natural light plays a crucial role in human wellbeing. Although artificial light offers design flexibility, it cannot fully replace the effects of natural light on the human body. Our biological rhythm, or circadian rhythm, is significantly influenced by light reception. Architects have prioritized natural lighting and aimed to mimic its characteristics with artificial light. The interplay of light and shadow in a space affects visual comfort, productivity, appetite, and energy levels.

  • Workshop Ricostruzione - The New Dance School / Mario Cucinella Architects Biophilic Interiors: 21 Projects that Blend Architecture with Nature - Image 5 of 25 Image © Bellipario Geraldina

  • 365° House / A.H Architects Biophilic Interiors: 21 Projects that Blend Architecture with Nature - Image 12 of 25 Image © Nacasa & Partners

  • St-Charles Dental Clinic / Studio Jean Verville architectes Biophilic Interiors: 21 Projects that Blend Architecture with Nature - Image 13 of 25 Image © Maxime Brouillet

Airflow

Optimal air circulation and thermal comfort are key aspects of biophilic design. The overall air quality should provide comfort and vitality while allowing users to adjust temperature conditions based on their needs and preferences. This includes the ability to control airflow manually or automatically.

  • The Vibes Office / Infinitive Architecture Biophilic Interiors: 21 Projects that Blend Architecture with Nature - Image 6 of 25 Image Courtesy of Infinitive Architecture

  • Urban Farming Office / VTN Architects Biophilic Interiors: 21 Projects that Blend Architecture with Nature - Image 16 of 25 Image © Hiroyuki Oki

  • Thorncrown Chapel / E. Fay Jones Biophilic Interiors: 21 Projects that Blend Architecture with Nature - Image 15 of 25 Image © Randall Connaughton

Physical and Visual Access to Nature

To establish a strong connection to nature, architects have designed projects with interiors that are physically and visually connected to the surrounding landscape. This blurs the boundary between architecture and nature, creating a sense of openness, freedom, and harmony.

  • Six Square House / Young Projects Biophilic Interiors: 21 Projects that Blend Architecture with Nature - Image 7 of 25 Image © Alan Tansay

  • Gimme Shelter / gimme shelter solutions Biophilic Interiors: 21 Projects that Blend Architecture with Nature - Image 20 of 25 Image © James Silverman

  • TreeVilla at Forest Hills / Architecture BRIO Biophilic Interiors: 21 Projects that Blend Architecture with Nature - Image 18 of 25 Image © Photographix

Biophilic Interiors: 21 Projects that Blend Architecture with Nature - Image 19 of 25 Image © Photographix

Biomimicry and Organic Forms

Organic and biomorphic forms and textures are also prevalent in biophilic interiors, as they mimic patterns found in nature. Curves, for example, are inspired by asymmetrical lines in flowers and animals, and they signal a lack of threat, making them visually appealing. These organic forms are incorporated not only in the architecture itself but also in furniture, lighting, textiles, partitions, and wall motifs.

  • Zolaism Café / B.L.U.E. Architecture Studio Biophilic Interiors: 21 Projects that Blend Architecture with Nature - Image 21 of 25 Image © Eiichi Kano

  • Kindergarten in Guastalla / Mario Cucinella Architects Biophilic Interiors: 21 Projects that Blend Architecture with Nature - Image 9 of 25 Image © Moreno Maggi

  • NOMA 2.0 / BIG Biophilic Interiors: 21 Projects that Blend Architecture with Nature - Image 14 of 25 Image © Rasmus Hjortshoj

Spatial Organization and Layout

Biophilic design also incorporates spatial patterns found in nature, creating interiors that prioritize user wellbeing and offer a sense of safety and protection. This includes refuge zones, open-yet-protected areas, and transitional spaces that reduce stress levels, promote creativity, and encourage exploration.

  • Edgars Creek House / Breathe Architecture Biophilic Interiors: 21 Projects that Blend Architecture with Nature - Image 22 of 25 Image © Tom Ross

  • Once Upon a Time in the Perche House / Java Architecture Biophilic Interiors: 21 Projects that Blend Architecture with Nature - Image 17 of 25 Image © Caroline Dethier

  • Second Home Hollywood Office / Selgascano Biophilic Interiors: 21 Projects that Blend Architecture with Nature - Image 23 of 25 Image © Iwan Baan Biophilic Interiors: 21 Projects that Blend Architecture with Nature - Image 24 of 25 Image © Iwan Baan

To see more inspiring biophilic interiors, explore the curated collection in this My ArchDaily folder created by the author.

This article is part of an ArchDaily series that delves into various features of interior architecture. Each month, we highlight how architects and designers are incorporating new elements, characteristics, and signatures into interior spaces worldwide. We highly value the input of our readers, so if you have any specific ideas you'd like us to explore, submit your suggestions.

This article is part of the ArchDaily Topics: Circular Economy. Through articles, interviews, news, and architectural projects, we delve into a different topic each month. We invite you to learn more about our ArchDaily Topics. As always, we welcome contributions from our readers. If you have an article or project you'd like to submit, contact us.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on February 03, 2023.

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