Biophilic Design: The Theory, Science, and Practice of Bringing Buildings to Life
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"When nature inspires our architecture-not just how it looks but how buildings and communities actually function-we will have made great strides as a society. Biophilic Design provides us with tremendous insight into the 'why,' then builds us a road map for what is sure to be the next great design journey of our times."
-Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO and Founding Chairman, U.S. Green Building Council

"Having seen firsthand in my company the power of biomimicry to stimulate a wellspring of profitable innovation, I can say unequivocably that biophilic design is the real deal. Kellert, Heerwagen, and Mador have compiled the wisdom of world-renowned experts to produce this exquisite book; it is must reading for scientists, philosophers, engineers, architects and designers, and-most especially-businesspeople. Anyone looking for the key to a new type of prosperity that respects the earth should start here."
-Ray C. Anderson, founder and Chair, Interface, Inc.

The groundbreaking guide to the emerging practice of biophilic design

This book offers a paradigm shift in how we design and build our buildings and our communities, one that recognizes that the positive experience of natural systems and processes in our buildings and constructed landscapes is critical to human health, performance, and well-being. Biophilic design is about humanity's place in nature and the natural world's place in human society, where mutuality, respect, and enriching relationships can and should exist at all levels and should emerge as the norm rather than the exception.

Written for architects, landscape architects, planners,developers, environmental designers, as well as building owners, Biophilic Design: The Theory, Science, and Practice of Bringing Buildings to Life is a guide to the theory, science, and practice of biophilic design. Twenty-three original and timely essays by world-renowned scientists, designers, and practitioners, including Edward O. Wilson, Howard Frumkin, David Orr, Grant Hildebrand, Stephen Kieran, Tim Beatley, Jonathan Rose, Janine Benyus, Roger Ulrich, Bert Gregory, Robert Berkebile, William Browning, and Vivian Loftness, among others, address:

The basic concepts of biophilia, its expression in the built environment, and how biophilic design connects to human biology, evolution, and development.

The science and benefits of biophilic design on human health, childhood development, healthcare, and more.

The practice of biophilic design-how to implement biophilic design strategies to create buildings that connect people with nature and provide comfortable and productive places for people, in which they can live, work, and study.

Biophilic design at any scale-from buildings to cities-begins with a few simple questions: How does the built environment affect the natural environment? How will nature affect human experience and aspiration? Most of all, how can we achieve sustained and reciprocal benefits between the two?

This prescient, groundbreaking book provides the answers.


Stephen R. Kellert is the Tweedy/Ordway Professor of Social Ecology and Co-Director of the Hixon Center for Urban Ecology at Yale University, and a Partner in the private equity firm Environmental Capital Partners. The recipient of numerous awards for teaching and writing, he is the author of more than 150 publications, including seven books.

Judith H. Heerwagen is President of J.H. Heerwagen & Associates. She is a psychologist whose research focuses on sustainability, biophilia, and the evolutionary basis of environmental aesthetics. She has authored and delivered numerous articles and lectures on the topics of workplace, biophilia, and the psychological value of space.

Martin L. Mador, a researcher on biophilic design at Yale University, has worked on green building and healthy schools issues, including the passage of LEED legislation in Connecticut. He is a board member of the Connecticut Sierra Club, as well as several other environmental organizations.



Contributors Biographies.

Preface (Stephen R. Kellert and Judith Heerwagen).

Prologue: Afterword, years after (Hillary Brown).


Chapter 1: Dimensions, Elements, and Attributes of Biophilic Design (Stephen Kellert).

Chapter 2: The Nature of Human Nature (Edward O. Wilson).

Chapter 3: A Good Place to Settle: Biomimicry, Biophilia, and the Return of Nature’s Inspiration to Architecture (Janine Benyus).

Chapter 4: Water, Biophilic Design, and the Built Environment (Martin Mador).

Chapter 5: Neuroscience, the Natural Environment, and Building Design (Nikos Salingaros and Kenneth Masden).


Chapter 6: Biophilic Theory and Research for Healthcare Design (Roger Ulrich).

Chapter 7: Nature Contact and Human Health: Building the Evidence Base (Howard Frumkin).

Chapter 8: Where Windows Become Doors (Vivian Loftness).

Chapter 9: Restorative Environmental Design: What, When, Where, and for Whom (Terry Hartig, Tina Bringslimark ,and Grete Grindal Patil)?

Chapter 10: Healthy Planet, Healthy Children: Designing Nature into the Daily Spaces of Childhood (Robin Moore and Clare Cooper Marcus).

Chapter 11: Children and the Success of Biophilic Design (Richard Louv).

Chapter 12: The Extinction of Natural Experience in the Built Environment (Robert Pyle and David Orr).


Chapter 13: Biophilia and Sensory Aesthetics (Judith Heerwagen and Bert Gregory).

Chapter 14: Evolving an Environmental Aesthetic (Stephen Kieran).

Chapter 15: The Picture Window: the Problem of Viewing Nature through Glass (Kent Bloomer).

Chapter 16: Biophilic Architectural Space (Grant Hildebrand).

Chapter 17: Towards Biophilic Cities: Strategies for Integrating Nature into Urban Design (Tim Beatley).

Chapter 18: Green Urbanism: Developing Restorative Urban Biophilia (Jonathan Rose).

Chapter 19: The Greening of the Brain (Pliny Fisk).

Chapter 20: Bringing Buildings to Life (Tom Bender).

Chapter 21: Biophilia in Practice: Buildings that Connect People with Nature (Alex Wilson).

Chapter 22: Transforming Building Practices through Biophilic Design (Jenifer Seal Cramer and William Browning).

Chapter 23 Reflections on Implementing Biophilic Design (Robert Fox and Robert Berkebile).


"Stephen Kellert, a social ecologist, has spent much of his career thinking and writing about biophilia, the innate human affinity for nature. Biophilic Design is an exploration of how we cut ourselves off from nature in the way we design the buildings and neighborhoods where we live and work. And it's an argument for re-connecting these spaces to the natural world, with plenty of windows, daylight, fresh air, plants and green spaces, natural materials, and decorative motifs from the natural world." (Yale Environment 360, December 2009)

"…Kellert asserts that people "learn better, work more comfortably, and recuperate more successfully in buildings that echo the environment in which the human species evolved." He says there are a number of ways to improve worker productivity and retention and reduce absenteeism. The most basic step is to improve the availability of natural light. Kellert is analyzing the effect of biophilic design on office work productivity, absenteeism, number of sick days. Kellert believes there is a definite connection between biophilic spaces and improved productivity, and some studies point to a positive relationship." (, September 2009)

"By applying biophilia to design, the editors and contributors hope to go beyond the standard green architecture goal of simply lowering the environmental impact of buildings. They hope to enhance the human relationship with nature through buildings believing, that one's affinity for light or water should be incorporated into the placement of windows. The book is divided into three parts. The first provides a theory of biophilic design and offers general guidelines. The second offers a more focused look at health issues and the role of nature. The third examines applied instances of biophilic design. Summing Up: Recommended" (Choice, September 2009)

"These authors urge architects to do what they can to incorporate nature in the design of buildings." (GreenSource, April 2009)

"Biophilic Design collects descriptions of current destructive practices, analyzes their roots in human nature, and offers low-cost, low-impact strategies for change." (Architecture Boston; Nov/Dec 2008)

"Stephen Kellert's Biophilic Design…brings together biologists, ecologists, psychologists, architects, designers and city planners to probe the confluence of people, nature and design." (, 7/14/08)

"Make no mistake: Biophilic Design, all 400 pages of it, is one of the best design books of this decade." (New Urban News, April-May 2008)