Biophilic Design is an applied science based on studies and discoveries concerning the millenary relationship between Man and Nature, aimed at designing artificial environments consistent with human biophilia. Today, this design approach is often perceived by many as a passing trend and is only associated with the interior and exterior decorative greening of architecture, or at most with interventions that only concern the interior spaces of buildings. We have already pointed out on other occasions how this results in a short-sighted and limiting view of this discipline.

It is a very flexible, broad and complex discipline that is focused on improving people's well-being and psychophysical health and on creating healthier and more pleasant spaces that are inspired by the natural world. We believe that Biophilic Design is a strong current that will increasingly enter the normal practice of any design intervention. It is an innovative and multi-disciplinary subject that has not yet found an established space in design schools; therefore, it is difficult for professionals in the sector to approach the subject from a theoretical and, above all, practical point of view.


We at Verde Profilo are motivated and convinced that our many solutions for the application of greenery on roofs, façades and within architectural spaces are part of the very important aspects of Biophilic Design, given the many measurable benefits of direct contact with greenery that have been the subject of a conspicuous number of scientific studies. It is precisely for this reason that the use of vegetation must be handled with great care, going beyond the concept of greenery as decoration for buildings. We are aware that vegetation must be wisely integrated and reinforced with other biophilic strategies.


To be able to apply Biophilic Design, one must first examine the specific characteristics of us human beings and what our true needs are. It is essential to deepen our knowledge of Biophilic Design and understand why it is important and fundamental to translate our innate predisposition to learn from Nature, into the built environment.  

For the application part, there are various Biophilic Design protocols, both empirical and scientific, which aim to translate our biophilia into a design strategy. All existing protocols start from a common denominator: the studies of Yale ecologist Stephen Kellert, who back in 2008 had the foresight to be the first to speak of Biophilic Design and to define a total of 72 attributes that help make the built environment biophilic (Kellert, 2008).


The 72 attributes (Kellert, 2008), the revised 24 attributes (Kellert, Calabrese, 2015), the 15 patterns (Terrapin Bright Green, 2024, 2020), and the 10 themes (Bolten, Barbiero, 2020, 2023), are the biophilic design protocols recognized by the scientific community. They can be applied in all areas and at different scales of intervention, both in external and internal environments.

For each project, the context in which it will be realised, the specific destination of use, the types of activities planned within it, and above all the specific characteristics and needs of the people who will use the spaces must be studied, because everyone has different needs and intentions. 

It is easy to guess that places for work will have different characteristics than residential buildings or those dedicated to study or leisure. At first glance this seems obvious, but one must consider that for each project it will be very useful to find solutions with a good level of flexibility for easy future change of use of the building or a specific space. In addition to single buildings, interior spaces or parts of them designed according to biophilic criteria, there are also examples with larger scales of intervention, such as entire neighbourhoods and urban areas, but also cities. Last month, we discussed the “Biophilic Cities”.


Now let us take a closer look at the areas in which Biophilic Design can be used. The list contains some general guidelines for different types of built spaces. Biophilic strategies can be applied in a wide range of contexts and environments to improve human well-being and create healthier, more pleasant and biophilically inspired spaces.

  1. Residential construction: Houses, flats and residential complexes can incorporate biophilic elements in the design of interior and exterior spaces to create more welcoming and psychophysically healthy environments. It is also possible to intervene in specific areas of the home, such as in the space used for regeneration and relaxation, or where home office activities take place.
  2. Workplaces: Offices and other workspaces can integrate Biophilic Design to improve productivity, concentration, the level of well-being and general employee satisfaction and also reduce absenteeism.
  3. Healthcare: Hospitals, clinics, day hospitals and other private or public healthcare facilities can integrate biophilic strategies to create spaces that promote healing for people and reduce stress for patients, staff and visitors.
  4. Education: Schools, nurseries, universities and other educational institutions can benefit from the implementation of Biophilic Design to foster a more stimulating learning environment where it is easier to concentrate, remember and learn.
  5. Commercial/retail establishments: Shops, malls and other retail spaces can use biophilic design to create more inviting atmospheres that enhance the customer experience, increasing customer retention and loyalty.
  6. Hospitality: Hotels, restaurants and other hospitality venues can integrate Biophilic Design to create a more pleasant experience and make spaces more welcoming and healthy for customers.
  7. Public spaces (with and without vegetation): Parks, gardens, public squares and other recreational areas can be designed in a biophilic manner to offer city residents a natural refuge, promoting regeneration and connection with Nature. 
  8. Cultural/religious spaces: In structures designed for museum or religious activities, spaces can be created that contribute to an enhancement of the visitor experience to the point of emphasising the (spiritual) connection with Nature.   
  9. Landscape architecture: Landscape architecture projects can integrate biophilic strategies to create harmonious, sustainable and regenerative outdoor environments.
  10. Neighbourhoods and cities: The preservation of natural areas in or near cities can contribute to biodiversity and provide recreation areas for residents. The integration of sustainable architecture, water cycle management, the creation of pedestrian or bicycle paths (tree-lined), inclusive design, and many other aspects make the neighbourhoods of our cities more liveable, pleasant, inclusive, save and sustainable.


The implementation of Biophilic Design in the various building typologies, in combination with sound strategies of environmental, social and economic sustainability, may vary depending on the context, the specific needs, or the budget available, but must never lose sight of the ultimate and inseparable objective: to create spaces that promote the wellbeing of users through direct and sensorial connection and interaction with Nature.

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