Biophilic urbanism: the potential to transform


– The emergent and allied concepts of biophilia, biophilic design, and biophilic urbanism are all concerned with human experiences of nature. This spans the theoretical affiliation with, and the need for nature (biophilia) that can be achieved through design approaches in the built environment (biophilic design), and systemically throughout cities (biophilic urbanism). The purpose of this paper is to distinguish attributes and principles of each and addresses their application in contemporary urban settings.


– This commentary draws on extant literature in the fields of biophilia, biophilic design, and biophilic urbanism to consider these concepts within broader discourse around nature and design. The author provides clarity on how this direct understanding and practice of urban design and development provides for meaningful experiences with nature.


– The unifying focus of this discussion is the evolutionary proposition that humans developed an innate tendency to affiliate with the non-human environment that continues to be instrumental in people’s physical and mental health, fitness and wellbeing. The application of biophilic design and urbanism will require a deeper appreciation of how contact with nature continues to function as the basis for a healthy, productive, and successful modern city, beyond practical considerations for integrating natural features into urban environments to foster meaningful experiences.


– There is a burgeoning array of terms and approaches relating to urban nature, with limited consideration for the unique contribution each makes to practice. This commentary highlights philosophical and practical implications of the allied concepts of biophilia, biophilic design, and biophilic urbanism to guide practitioners in the built environment.

Keywords:Biophilic urbanism, Biophilic, Biophilic design, Urban nature, Nature by designPublisher:Emerald Group Publishing LimitedCopyright:© Emerald Group Publishing Limited 2016

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