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14 Patterns of Biophilic Design

Good biophilic design is one which is designed to keep The world, as we know it today, is relatively new. The large-scale agriculture, urbanization, industrialization, and the dominant use of technology, everything is fairly recent. However, these are artificial forces whereas human evolution took place in an adaptive response to the natural world. It will not be incorrect to say that the human mind, body, and soul evolved in a bio-centric world which explains our inherent inclination to affiliate with nature. And this is exactly what biophilia is all about. Biophilic designs seek to create good habitats for people in the modern built environment and are known to reduce stress, improve cognitive function and creativity, and advance people’s health, fitness, and well-being.

Good biophilic interior design is one which is designed keeping in mind that people are biological organisms and one which nurtures a love of place. In order to propose a standardized terminology, avoid confusion with multiple terms that are used to describe the biophilic interior design, and to maximize accessibility across disciplines, there are certain patterns that are used.

Visual Connection with Nature

Visual connection with nature refers to a direct view of nature, living systems, and natural processes. A space with a view to the natural flow of water body, vegetation, trees, non-threatening animals, indoor green wall, aquarium, artwork with nature scenes, and highly designed landscapes feels whole and can be incredibly calming. Spaces with visual connection with nature have shown to be less stressful and people in such environments have more positive emotional functioning, show improved concentration and recovery rates.

Non-visual Connection with Nature

Non-visual connection with nature seeks to create an environment that uses sound, aroma, touch and in some cases even taste to help reduce stress and improve perceived physical and mental health. These auditory, haptic, olfactory or gustatory stimuli create a reference to nature, living systems, and natural processes and let people experience nature in a built environment. From fragrant flowers to birds, weather to textured materials, fireplace to music, and pets to textiles, all contribute towards a non-visual connection with nature.

Non-Rhythmic Sensory Stimuli

Non-rhythmic sensory stimuli encourage the use of natural sensory stimuli that unobtrusively attract attention. Instances such as the chirping of birds, cloud movement, blowing breeze, rustling plant life, fragrant flowers, a reflection of water on a surface are brief but welcome distractions from work that have been known to support physiological restoration.

Thermal and Airflow Variability

Small, subtle changes in air temperature, relative humidity, airflow, and temperature that imitate the natural environment. These changes are known to positively impact comfort, well-being and productivity, concentration and provide an improved perception of temporal and spatial pleasure. Shadows and shade, radiant surface materials, HVAC delivery strategy, window treatments, etc, are a few ways to work with this pattern.


Essential to life, the presence of water in the built environment is known to relieve stress, promote satisfaction and enhance health and performance. This experience can be provided through seeing, hearing, or touching water, and the overall experience contributes to a calming environment. Water elements in the form of rivers, visual access to rainfall and water flows, aquarium, fountain, etc, enhance the experience of a space making it soothing, mood-enhancing, and provides restoration from cognitive fatigue.


Light is fundamental to human health and well-being and facilitates movement and wayfinding, as well as contributing to comfort and satisfaction. A space with dynamic and diffuse light conditions with varying intensities to create naturally occurring conditions create a pleasing visual environment while positively impacting circadian system functioning. By creating a space that receives daylight from multiple angles, direct sunlight, firelight, moonlight, and starlight, or by introducing accent lighting, window treatments, ambient diffuse lighting, task, and personal lighting, etc, you could introduce this pattern in the space.

Connection with Natural Systems

This pattern refers to being aware of natural processes, seasonality, and the cycle of life. A space with a connection with natural systems is found to be relaxing and highly enlightening. Such a space heightens both awareness of natural properties and environmental stewardship of ecosystems and goes a long way in enhancing positive health responses. Providing visual access to natural systems is one of the easiest and cost-effective ways to introduce this pattern in a built environment.


Biopmorphic patterns and forms symbolically refer to contours, patterns, textures, or numerical arrangements that occur in nature. Implementing biomorphic design in built environments can be done by integrating elements or representations of nature in décor as a cosmetic or integral to the form or function of the space. From introducing rugs, wallpaper, fabric based on Fibonacci series or Golden Mean or use of elements inspired by trees, wings, seashells, etc for decoration, install freestanding sculptures, woodwork, masonry, wall decal and more that are representations of nature can instill this pattern in a space.

Material Connection with Nature

Material connection with Nature refers to introducing elements from nature that have been subject to minimal processing and reflects local ecology to create a distinct sense of place. Such a space is known to decrease diastolic blood pressure, improve creative performance and comfort. Introducing accent details made from natural wood grain, stone, bamboo, cork, leather etc, introducing woodwork, stonework, natural color palette, etc are a few ways to weave this pattern in a space.

Complexity and Order

This pattern seeks to provide symmetries and fractal geometries, configured with a coherent spatial hierarchy, to create an engaging and information-rich space. Such space or environment is known to engender a positive psychological or cognitive response. Décor considerations that can help create complexity and order include wallpaper and carpet design, material texture and contour, window details, auditory stimuli, façade materials, floor plan, landscape plan, urban grid, etc.


Prospect seeks to provide a suitable condition for a visual survey and contemplating surrounding environment for an opportunity as well as hazard. This pattern is known to reduce stress, boredom, irritation, and fatigue and is associated with improved comfort and perceived safety. Providing focal lengths of more than 20 feet and limiting partition heights to 42” while using transparent materials, balconies, open floor plans, are some of the considerations that can help to create Prospect conditions.


Refuge provides safety and security and is closely associated with prospects as humans have evolved in adaptive response to complimentary benefits of these conditions. Spaces with Refuge conditions feel safe, unique and are associated with improved concentration, attention, and perception of safety. Covering sides, complete concealments, ceiling heights, weather, and climate-protected spaces, are some design considerations that may help with this pattern.


Mystery refers to a space with partially obscured views that makes it enticing and has a palpable sense of anticipation. Such spaces or environments are based on ‘understanding’ and exploration’ and are associated with inducing a strong pleasure response. Introducing curved edges, dramatic use of shade and shadows, medium to high depth of field, winding paths, are some design considerations that may help in creating a quality mystery pattern.


Risk/Peril consists of a combination of threat and safeguard. Such a space is intriguing along with a side of danger. It is worth exploring but with an implied threat. An environment with these design considerations seeks to arouse attention and curiosity and also encourage problem-solving skills. It is associated with strong dopamine or pleasure responses and attributes such as height (falling risks), gravity, water (wet risk) can be used to create this condition.

Read also:

Biophilic Interiors: Spaces That Reconnect Us with Nature
Bringing Nature into Interior Design
Budgeting Biophilia in Offices