Office design

What is Biophilic Design?

Biophilia (meaning a love of nature) focuses on humans’ innate attraction to nature and natural processes. It suggests that we all have a genetic connection to the natural world built up through hundreds of thousands of years of living in agrarian settings.

It is a term popularized by American biologist Edward O. Wilson in the 1980’s, when he observed how the increasing rates of urbanisation were leading to a disconnection with the natural world. With high rates of migration to urban settings in the developed world and soaring rates in developing countries, Biophilia is of ever increasing importance to our health and wellbeing in the built environment.

Biophilic Design uses these ideas as principles (known as patterns) to create a human-centred approach that, when applied, improves many of the spaces that we live and work in today, with numerous benefits to our health and wellbeing.

bedroom interior

Key constructs of Biophilic Design

Our approach is both neuroscientific, enhancing the quality of occupant experience for individuals, and socio psychological, connecting spaces, places and people.

Both approaches share three core characteristics:

  • Direct contact with nature - through elements such as water, trees, plants, light, and fresh air
  • Indirect contact with nature - evoking a sense of nature through materials, colours, textures, shapes and patterns
  • Human-spatial response - creating spaces that stimulate and energise, but also calm and restore

Research tells us

Guests staying in hotels with Biophilic lobbies spend


more time dwelling in the lobby compared to conventional lobbies

Offices with elements of greenery and nature see a


increase to it's occupants wellbeing

Interior design project

Why Biophilic Design?

Never has there been a more pressing time, for both human and planetary health, to understand our intricate interdependence and connection with nature.

90% of the UK now live in cities, a statistic being reflected around the world. With this increased urbanisation, we have strayed further from nature and have progressively become more disconnected with natural systems. It’s no coincidence that we have, at the same time, seen increases in mental and physical health issues.

Connecting people with nature in the built environment through implementing Biophilic Design not only improves the health and wellbeing of individuals, and communities but also the health of the planet. By increasing biodiversity and our appreciation for nature, we are more motivated to act in a sustainable way.

What’s more, Biophilic Design has been found to improve outcomes for businesses and individuals in a range of building sectors whilst reducing negative costs. 

At Oliver Heath Design we can help you understand the business case for designing for wellbeing.

plants surrounding desk

Research shows that in...

  • Office design: productivity can be increased by 8%, rates of well-being up by 13%, increases in creativity, with reduced absenteeism and presenteeism
  • Hospitality design: Guests willing to pay 23% more for rooms with views of Biophilic elements
  • Education spaces: increased rates of learning 20-25%, improved test results, concentration levels and attendance, reduced impacts of ADHD
  • Healthcare spaces: post-operative recovery times decreased by 8.5%, reduced pain medication by 22%
  • Retail: the presence of vegetation & landscaping has been found to increase average rental rates on retail spaces with customers indicating they were willing to pay 8-12% more for goods and services
  • Homes: can become more calming & restorative,  with 7-8 % less crime attributed to areas with access to nature and can command an increase of 4-5% in property price

Want to learn more about Biophilic Design? Listen to Oliver's interview with Dezeen


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