Can Biophilic Design Improve your Emotional Wellbeing?

In a post pandemic world, both Biophilic design and emotional wellbeing are more important than ever.

When constructing buildings, we now need to give more thought of how they make us feel rather than what the spaces look like. Especially since research has shown that biophilic design and its environments can impact our overall quality of life.

jun aoki designs M house in tokyo with trapezoidal plan photo by Ichikawa Yasushi

Credit - jun aoki designs m house in tokyo with trapezoidal plan, photo by ichikawa yasushi

Since we spend majority of our lives indoors, when designing we need to start considering how the home environment makes us feel and what we can do to improve our wellbeing through Biophilia.

Designed by AIM Architecture, Fushengyu Hotspring Resort is located in the north of Sichuan at the foot of the Luo Fu Shan mountain range. Photography: Dirk Weiblen

Credit - Photography: Dirk Weiblen, AIM Architecture

What is Emotional Wellbeing and How do we Design for it?

Emotional wellbeing is about experiencing regular positive moods, emotions and ability to engage in oneself – defined goals. The onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, lowered emotional well-being by 74%. Having a healthy state of emotional wellbeing is more important than ever and has been linked to an overall increased quality of life, improved happiness and even improved learning performance. Given that we spend nearly 90% of our lives inside buildings (which is pretty shocking!), it’s important to investigate the emotional benefits we can adopt with the design of our everyday spaces.

Credit: Sergey Krasyuk

Credit: Sergey Krasyuk, DforDesignStyle 

We should be encouraging mindfulness, being present in the current moment, and experiencing gratitude as key parts of adopting emotional wellbeing.

The incorporation of Biophilic design and connection to nature is repeatedly being identified within in these approaches as a key element of emotional wellbeing support strategy. In order to understand how biophilic design can impact our emotional wellbeing, we are going to look at what happens when we are not living in the present moment.

Clean, Open, Pure Photograph Courtesy of Wartaku

Credit - Clean, Open, Pure, Photograph Courtesy of Wartaku

Designing for Emotional Wellbeing with Biophilia

When Biophilia is incorporated into design, we engage our senses. When we engage our senses, this brings us out of autopilot and into the present moment where we should be connecting with the world and our surroundings.

n collaboration with Farm Cultural Park, OFL Architecture has created a multi-sensory urban garden in Favara, Italy, for their client Milia Arredamenti.

Credit -photography by Giuseppe Guarneri and Riccio Blu

The Exchange: a Spiraling, Light-Filled ‘Hive’ Designed by Kengo Kuma


Biophilic design has insightful benefits to engaging our senses and supporting our emotional health and wellbeing by improving learning engagement, cortisol levels (our body’s stress response.), increased kindness and increased social connectivity. Biophilia goes beyond just supporting our health and wellbeing, it has even been shown to positively impact a company’s wellbeing through increased productivity and focus.

When you apply biophilic design principles in the built environment, you will adopt a strong sense of connection, order and safety. For example, if you look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, if you don’t feel safe, then you are not going to be able to aspire to higher levels of wellbeing. Therefore, by adopting biophilic principles this allows you to feel safe, present and supported. By these needs being met, we can now easily aspire to the higher levels of wellbeing, achievement and happiness.



Biophilic design has been most successful through collaborative approaches but there are various other ways we can apply Biophilic design in order to aid support in emotional wellbeing.

Incorporate a Variety of Space Types

  1. Design a variety of solutions to support peoples evolving needs.


 In the workplace we go through four essential modes of work throughout the day: learning, focus, collaboration and socialization. By incorporating an ecosystem of settings throughout, the space offers people a sense of control and choice. This leads to increased happiness.

heller designs a flexible office which can be both cellular and open space

Credit - Design Boom 

A range of spaces that ensure the appropriate distancing can include central spacious community areas (allowing safe co- habitation), small focus rooms and semi- private meeting spaces adjacent to workstations. By adopting these variations of wellbeing, we can support the diverse work styles and align more closely with the ecosystem of settings found in nature.

Little Audrey - Melbourne Photography, Ari Hatzis  

Credit - Photography, Ari Hatzis

Straticom has completed the bright and airy coworking offices for Workplace One located in Toronto, Canada. Photography: Bob Gundu

Credit - Photography: Bob GunduDesign: Straticom

2. Design for Prospect and Refuge by incorporating a range of open and closed spaces that allow for clear sight lines throughout the space, this provides prospect and a sense of safety. Smaller enclosed spaces such as one-person study rooms or booth seating with semi-transparent doors are great examples of areas of refuge that provide both comfort and security.

Inspiration: Interesting Uses of Wood Throughout The Office  

Credit - Office Snap Shots 


Credit - twenty75

Adopt an Engaging and Sensory Experience

1. Introduce physical elements that encourage us to pause and shift out of internal guidance and visually appreciate the material in the present moment. For example, you could incorporate local wood grains, carpets of varying pile heights which reflects local natural patterns exposed brick textures, wall mounted acoustical tiles and natural fibres reflecting regional textures.

Converting Old Farm Into House / van Os Architecte  Threading Unique Gardens Of Wool Carpets And Tapestries Which Make Themselves At Home Artist Alexandra Kehayoglou

           Credit - Converting Old Farm Into House / van Os Architecten Credit - Artist Alexandra Kehayoglou

2. Integrate captivating patterns such as fractals (never ending patterns) which evoke a state of mystery, curiosity and exploration. This can help engage you in the present moment and adopt an improved state of emotional wellbeing.

Stunning chapel in Japan brings a fractal forest indoors Photography by Lucy Wang  

Credit - Agri Chapel by Yu Momoeda Architecture Office

Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport Photography by Paul Prudence

Credit - Paul Prudence, Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport

Honour Movement, The Passage of Time and a Sense of Place

1. Use strategies that provide people access to sunlight throughout the day. Daylight supports emotional wellbeing by aligning our circadian rhythms and our body’s internal clock.

By Neon Sugar  

Credit - First Home 

A Minimal Wooden House Filled With Natural Sunlight By mA-Style Architects All images © Kai Nakamura

Credit - All images © Kai Nakamura

2. Incorporate Non – Rhythmic moving elements such as water features and sculptural focal points that receive direct daylight throughout the day. Since shadows move throughout the day, this can prompt an awareness of time and support a sense of place and wellbeing.

Ming-Tang Hot Spring Resort / CT Design + Cooperation Team  

Credit - Ming-Tang Hot Spring Resort / CT Design + Cooperation Team

Water Feature   

Credit - Water Feature Specialist

A Crystalline Inspired Sculpture Creates A Focal Point In This Office Lobby

Credit - Photography by Alan Tansey

Biophilic design provides a perception that engages the senses and essences of human beings in the world. When successful, biophilic design can help us capture the true essence of place within a project and yourselves, this provides security and belonging. Therefore, these foundational needs are essential pillars to supporting our overall emotional wellbeing.  

Credit: Spasm Design. Photo by Photographix.

Credit: Spasm Design. Photo by Photographix, SourceDforDesignstyle 

Without a doubt, our spaces impact us. We both feel it and know it. The practice of biophilic design for emotional wellbeing is growing and forever evolving through continuous research. Most inspiring, is that we have the ability to use research insights to positively impact those who learn, through our live Awestruck Biophilic workshops where you can develop and enhance your knowledge in biophilic design. Whilst being able to create living Biophilic spaces for clients to thrive in every day.

To book your place on our Workshops email us at

Tropical Display Dome - Brisbane Botanic Garden, Mount Coot-tha, Queensland, Australia Photography, HAARKON