architecture / design

What is Biophilia? What It Means & Why It Matters

casa biofilico diseno design biophilia biofilia

As the world becomes increasingly urbanized, lifestyle convenience and stimuli typically increase while access to nature and green spaces decrease.

Biophilia and biophilic design are in this sense a thoroughly modern response to that disconnect from nature although, as you’ll discover, it is one informed by our meta history, having evolved as a species in relative harmony with nature over hundreds of thousands of years.

What is Biophilia?

We define biophilia as the human love of or need for a close connection with nature and other forms of life. When applied to modern lifestyles, ‘biophilic living’ resembles less a primal, hunter-gatherer lifestyle and is rather about the respectful integration of nature into our home, offices, gyms, diet, beauty products, transport choices and more.

Why Does Biophilia Matter?

Wherever health, wellness, and community are at stake, biophilia has a genuine contribution to make, partly to improve the lives of the people involved but also as a way to protect the planet.

Biophilia & The Triple Bottom Line

Biophilia is a Triple Bottom Line concept in this sense, as it accounts not just for People and Planet but also for Profit, which explains why it has been adopted around the world by some of the most valuable companies in existence.

Amazon, Google, and Apple have all tapped into the power of biophilic design recently for their office interiors, so what lies behind the shift to such botanical work spaces?

Clean Living

Plants convert CO2 back to oxygen as we know but recent studies by institutes such as NASA show that plants also purify the indoor air for us.

Within interiors, this means filtering out harmful chemicals, such as formaldehyde, benzyne, ammonia—to name a few— from off-gassing furniture, paint, building materials, and pollutants that track in from the outside world.

NB: We recommend going big on such plants in each room, around 6-8 per regular user if possible and then supplement that with an air purifier from Dyson, that’s how we do things anyway.


We are bombarded daily with endless stimulants in bustling urban areas—especially in the era of endless technology. Interiors and exteriors that utilize biophilic design create spaces where such stimuli can be set aside for a dose of Vitamin Nature that will recharge our internal batteries and, as a result, improve concentration, productivity and creativity.

biofilico recharge room green biophilia nature

Our Biofilico green recharge rooms and office interiors are designed specifically for this purpose in fact. When we integrate movement and activity into the mix as well, we end up with a Biofit gym’s ‘special sauce’ - double the wellness benefits basically!

Biophilia & Tribal Community

Not only does biophilia hold the key to connecting with nature in unnatural settings, it also creates opportunities for greater sense of connection between groups of individuals and nature, for example through the creation of communal gardens, green spaces in schools, or shared workspaces like Second Home in Lisbon.

The fundamental insight here is again informed by ancestral health principles that clearly show humans to be tribal animals, originally operating in groups of 150-250 people.

In conclusion, biophilic living is an effective way to counteract against some of the negative effects of urban living and by embracing this concept, we can improve quality of life, health and well-being whilst improving consciousness of our connection to the planet around us.

Related reads from Biofit & Biofilico:

5 Best Examples of Biophilic Design

10 Ways to Add Biophilic Design to Your Home, Office, or Gym

Air Purifying Plants in Biophilic Interiors

10 ways to add biophilic design to your home, office, or gym (part 2)

biofilico biophilic casa interni interiors biophilia

If you want your interior to truly look and feel its best, incorporating biophilic design elements is a tried-and-true method to add not just soul but wellness benefits to an interior.

By implementing a few of these key biophilic design strategies when designing your home, office, or gym you can create a space that prioritizes personal well-being—and looks aesthetically pleasing while doing so - while also respecting the planet. Here’s how:

Harness Nature’s Aromas

We discussed appealing to multiple senses in 10 Ways to Add Biophilic Design to Your Home, Office, or Gym (Part 1), and this should undoubtedly extend to scent too.

Incorporating certain aromas into a space is a simple way to extend the user experience and influence not just the tone of the room visually but also how its users feel whilst in it.

Forget synthetic fragrances though, we keep it clean with organic essential oils such as pine, cedar or lavender, preferably diffused into the air for 30-60 mins straight. This is especially beneficial first thing in the morning and last thing at night, while taking a relaxing bath or while concentrating on a writing or work task.

Purify the Indoor Air

Urban living comes with its benefits, sure but one of the inarguable downfalls is the reduced air quality, especially in certain cities such as Barcelona for example where the municipality struggles to keep pace.

Keep lungs happy and healthy by deploying an air purifier—preferably one with a HEPA filter. Dyson Air Cool is our model of choice for our bedroom in Casa Biofilico for example.

This helps restore air to its natural state by removing pollutants that off gas from furniture or, more likely, drift in from the streets outside. Incorporating a few plants can also assist with this goal although you’ll need to go big on quantities and choose the right species, and even then we still recommend using an air purifier. Take no prisoners on this front!

Go Organic on your Materials

Using organic material can lessen the presence of harmful chemicals that are regularly found in building materials and furniture—think benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene. Yes, this is a thing.

While plants and purifiers are a great method to filter the pollutants that get in, going organic is a preventative measure that will help ensure their presence is minimal from the get-go. Rather like taking your shoes off before entering a home so as not to bring in the dirt from outside. Joined-up thinking is the way to win this battle.

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A Natural Neutral Palette

The color scheme is arguably one of the biggest influencers of the mood that an interior elicits. While bright tones can add energy, neutrals will help any commercial or residential room feel grounded in nature.

Try opting for colors that you often see in the wilderness, like browns, beiges, and greens. Still looking for a pop of bright color? Try a dash of sunshine yellow a bright sky blue.

Welcome ‘Wabi-Sabi’

Nature is never about perfection, so why should your interior design be? Harness the intrigue and natural beauty that imperfection can bring and integrate pieces into your design that have variations in the finish or maybe even a couple of chips or cracks.

Wabi-Sabi a Japanese concept common among vintage and handmade products, so look for furniture, crockery sets, and pottery with such ‘imperfections’.

These actionable, biophilic design strategies can help propel any home, office, or gym design in the right direction. Whether you implement a few or all 10, both your interior and health will thank you!

Read 5 more strategies in Biophilic Design Guide (Part1)

Five Best Examples of Biophilic Design

This post first appeared on my Biofilico website here

From Seattle to Scotland, the best biophilic design examples can be found in any variety of settings but they all have one thing in common - interiors that use natural materials, plants, lighting and other sensory design elements to give the user an experience energizes, refreshes, and connects them to nature. 

Here are our top five picks of the moment: 

1 hotel biophilic design

1 Hotels, New York & Miami

In a city packed with traffic, endless high rises, and lots of commotion, 1 Hotels is an urban retreat inspired by nature. Outside you will find walls brimming with lush greenery, while inside interspersed plants and interiors crafted using reclaimed materials promote a warm aesthetic. This biophilic experience doesn’t just extend to this hotel’s decor though, they offer farm-to-fork food in their dining room and even a daily fresh fruit stand in the lobby.

amazon the spheres seattle

The Spheres, Seattle (above)

The Spheres are home to 40,000 plants from 30 different countries, including a variety of living walls that account for over 4,000 square feet of vegetated surface. This Amazon building aims to connect employees and visitors with a direct link to nature in an urban setting— and with their glass dome that lets in an abundance of natural light and array of greenery, we think they delivered on their promise, and then some!

lily jencks biophilis design

Ruins Studio, Scotland (above)

Ruins Studio garnered many awards the year after its competition—and for good reason. Designed by Lily Jencks Studio, NDA and Savills-Smiths Gore this unique structure was built inside a ruin. The original stone was kept intact, now being used as a natural, textural shell. It creates a strong contrast to the smoother, contemporary build nestled inside. 

wardian biophilic design

The Wardian, London  (above)

Whether relaxing in the sky lounge crafted with extra high ceilings, expansive trees, and floor-to-ceiling windows or taking a dip in the swimming pool immersed in a lush, natural landscape, it’s easy to forget that you are in the bustling metropolis of London when you are at The Wardian. While this project is still under construction, it is already proving itself to be an iconic biophilic design case study. We created a pop-up Vitamin Nature wellness space for the developer EcoWorld Ballymore in 2018, the results from that research study can be found online here.

second home biophilia

Second Home, Lisbon  (above)

While Second Home has many locations, the one in Lisbon is truly a biophilic haven with its abundance of light and over 1000 plants. Both Biofit & Biofilico were effectively based there for the formative first year or two of the business in fact!

This shared workspace is ideal for teams of 1 to 100 that need a workspace and want to experience an extra boost of creativity, happiness, and productivity through the power of Vitamin Nature. Wellness isn’t just built into their interior though, they also practice what they preach by offering members yoga classes, surf trips, and educational and cultural seminars

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Karolinska Institutet gym by Biofit, Stockholm

And one more for luck... we couldn't resist adding in our tiny biophilic gym at the Karolinska Institutet medical university, just to show that not all these projects need to be large-scale! We created a space with maximum health benefits by implementing a design that consists of both direct and indirect biophilia, including muraled walls, circadian lighting, air-purifying plants, and 100% sustainable materials. Students of the medical university are free to use the space whenever they choose and regular classes provide extra incentives for those in need of a break from their research studies.

10 Ways to Add Biophilic Design to Your Home, Office, or Gym (Part 1)

biophilic design in the home, office or gym

An interior created with biophilic design elements will not only benefit from the uplifting aesthetics these features bring, users may also experience a tangible boost to their personal wellbeing. The concept can be applied to a home, gym or office. Here is the first half of our 10-point guide on integrating biophilic design strategies into your own lives:  

Let there be Plants!

We’ll start with an obvious one; plants are a quick way to incorporate direct biophilia into any interior. This can be as simple as a few potted plants or as expansive as a vertical garden wall. To reap the most benefits from this easy addition, aim for plants that will clean the air, as well as please the eye. 

Why stop there though when there are terrariums, aquascapes, domestic animals and countless other ways to bring nature into the built environment.

Use Indirect Biophilia

When plants and other direct biophilic elements aren’t available, look to what is termed indirect biophilia. Photos, murals, and illustrations of nature, animals, and plants are a great way to ground your space in nature, plus these strategies have stress-reducing properties.

Studies have shown that even indirect biophilia—using elements that are merely representational—still holds an arsenal of benefits similar to direct biophilia. 

Use Natural Materials

The materials you choose for an interior space will not only influence the final ambiance but also impact the users’ health and wellness. Opting for materials that are natural and sustainable will help ensure that both a room’s users and the planet stay healthy. Good materials to consider include FSC wood, bamboo, linen, cork, and ceramic. Do away with plastic completely.

Light It Up

Implementing a circadian lighting system that follows the body’s natural rhythm can help improve both productivity by day and sleep by night.

Fill your space with natural light whenever possible but when the sun’s rays aren’t available, find a lighting system that uses blue-white tones in the middle of the day, and amber tones early and late. The Philips HUE system does a decent job of this.

Mimic Nature’s Voice

Serious biophilic design appeals to all the senses, including sound. Possibly one of the most soothing things about being immersed in nature is the soft sound of birds, running water and the rustling of trees.

The great news is that you can easily recreate this sensation by playing nature sounds, which are widely available and come in an array of themes and compositions. 

These are just a few of the simple biophilic design strategies that you can start implementing today, and by using just a few of the elements mentioned above you can be on your way to a healthier and happier interior.

Need more advice? Check out more biophilic design strategies (coming soon) or contact the experts at Biofilico today.

the science behind biophilic design

biophilic design science behind the wellness

The last two centuries have seen a massive process of urbanization as entire populations transition from natural to heavily built environments with limited access to greenery, open spaces and wildlife. This represents a fundamental disconnect from our evolutionary history.

Man's innate connection with nature is known as biophilia which in turn gives us biophilic design - an attempt to reunite indoor and outdoor worlds through the sensitive use of natural materials, shapes, breezes, colours, scents and sounds in urban architecture and interiors. Biofit leverages this same approach for an inner city fitness studio concept. Why?

Biophilic architecture has been enthusiastically adopted by the tech giants of Silicon Valley such as Apple, Amazon and Facebook for their new Californian headquarters. According to David Radcliffe, Vice President of Real Estate at Google, its new campus will have “trees & landscaping weaving through its structures to blur the distinction between the buildings and nature”.

Such environments are not just sustainable, a recent study by Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health Sir Cary Cooper entitled ‘Biophilic Design in the Workplace’ surveyed 3600 office workers across Europe and the Middle-East. The results showed how internal green space, natural light and foliage boost the mood, productivity and job satisfaction of employees while also reducing stress.

A recent report published by US-based consultancy Terrapin Bright Green entitled ‘The Economics of Biophilia’ highlights how this approach can also be applied to retail areas to boost visitor spend as well as educational facilities to increase students’ learning speed.

In the world of healthcare facility design, a seminal study by Professor Roger Ulrich at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden showed that patients whose windows looked out onto nature required 8.5% less recovery time than those who faced brick walls.

Such research eventually led to the type of healing garden created by designer Lily Jencks for her family foundation’s Maggies cancer care homes across the UK and Hong Kong. 

The next frontier looks to be healthy, or wellness-oriented real estate, as exemplified by the likes of Delos in the US. Biofit aims to be a part of that movement by contributing its own nature inspired update on the traditional fitness facility.

To find out more about our biophilic design services for gyms, offices, homes and hospitality venues, contact us via email through this website.

office recharge rooms & biophilia

office recharge rooms & biophilia

workplace recharge rooms - why are they useful?

In an era filled with high stress jobs and always on tech fatigue, recharge rooms are a growing trend in workplace wellness programs. Whether presented as somewhere for stretching and yoga, a quiet room for focused bursts of concentration and productivity, as a chill-out meditation space or even a games area, recharge rooms are somewhere for workers to — you guessed it—recharge their batteries during the workday.  

what are the benefits of a wellness room?

It may seem like an overly generous move by an employer to provide this kind of a facility for employee use during work hours but there is a lot more to it than just helping staff top up on their nightly sleep quota... Companies themselves can benefit from them just as much as the employees do. 

When used for brainstorming sessions for example, these rooms can boost creativity, mental clarity and overall productivity (more on the ‘how’ below). This makes them effective tools not just for forward-thinking HR departments looking to attract / retain top talent in a competitive marketplace (think tech start-ups for example) but also for Executives looking to optimize their team’s output and help individuals find their flow state in what is increasingly likely to be an open-plan office with limited privacy.

meditation room biophilic green eco design biofilico

biophilic design & office green rooms

Replicating the body’s circadian rhythm with smart lighting solutions means these rooms can be pre-programmed each season to replicate the effects of sunlight in the mornings, energizing blue-white light in the middle of the day and softer amber tones later on.

Air-purifying plants combined with dedicated air purifiers ensure improved indoor air quality (IAQ) to reduce air-borne particle counts and remove other pollutants, helping to reduce allergies and promote cognitive function at the same time.

Botanical wallpapers, artworks and nature murals can be used to bring the outside world in, replicating the effect of being outside in a natural landscape even if the office is located in a dense urban setting with limited gardens or parks nearby.

Organic aromatherapy oils such as pine and rosemary can add an extra sensory dimension to the experience whilst also affecting mood and concentration levels. Advanced functional nootropics can also be added to a diffuser now, representing another level in organic biohacking.

the urgent need for recharge rooms

While stress and mental health disorders seem to be more abundant than ever, these recharge rooms are a modern tool to help combat what is a decidedly 21st century problem. With a plethora of benefits for both employee and business, there is a recharge room to fit just about every budget, room size and corporate culture.

To discuss how we can help design one of these spaces for your office or home, simply email us at design @ biofilico . com