Biophilic Design Blog Series Part 3: 14 Core Principles of Biophilic Design

Biophilic design is a massive area of study and is challenging to understand all at once. Designers have broken it into 14 core principles of biophilic design that we will outline in this article.

"Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution" - Theodosius Dobzhansky

Timber Haus Developments design team uses these principles in every home. Here are the three main categories of biophilic design.

Nature in the Space

By working on these seven biophilic patterns in home design, we bring natural elements into our urban domain. It allows us to use all our senses to create a nature-inspired living space.

The sensory connections with these natural elements, mainly through diversity, movement, and multisensory interactions, are defined as:

1) Visual connection with nature is creating a view to an element of nature, living system or natural process. There are thousands of examples of visual connections to nature. Timber Haus incorporates this principle through some of these examples;

  • Indoor plant areas
  • Views of water
  • Landscape paintings
  • Garden views
  • Living walls
  • Park views

2) Non-visual connection with nature emphasizes the remaining senses: touch, taste, smell, and sound. With a focus on incorporating simultaneous and overlapping elements, biophilic design creates an experience with depth and a collaborative dimension.

Sounds may be singing birds, the flow of water, or a fireplace. Scent elements may include fragrant plants, essential oil diffusers, or scents from the surrounding outdoors.

Timber Haus stimulates non-visual connections with nature through mechanized scent release, fireplaces, proximity to running water, fountains, and natural birdsong in established infill areas.

3) Non-rhythmic sensory stimuli refer to how nature is not predictable. It is never static, always moving, growing, and adapting. In design, this means our space cannot be monotonous. It needs to have variation and change. Think of fire, bird flight, wind rippling across a prairie, any elements that have unpredictable natural change.

The most prominent way Timber Haus uses non-rhythmic sensory stimuli is through built-in fireplaces and fire pits.

4) Thermal airflow and variability are subtle changes in air and surface temperature, humidity and airflow across the skin that mimic natural environments. Timber Haus designers incorporate this using ventilation and airflow controlled by HVAC, window treatments, balconies, patios, and windows.

5) Presence of water is a condition that enhances the experience of a place through seeing, hearing, or touching the water. The sight, sound and humidity of flowing water have many health benefits that home designers try to capture. Timber Haus designers utilize the presence of water, including fountains, living walls, or outdoor features, to incorporate the presence of water in our homes.

6) Dynamic and Diffused Light describes how the sun can shape our moods and creativity during different times of day and lighting. From blueish to red, the sun’s light gives us energy, peace, and harmony. Timber Haus uses dynamic and diffused lighting through skylights, strategically placed windows, or window treatments that create shadows.

7) Connection with natural systems is an awareness of natural processes, mainly seasonal and temporal changes characteristic of healthy ecosystems. People are aware by nature of the change in seasons and temperature. By connecting with the natural seasonal cycles, homebuilders can bring added harmony to homeowners.

Timber Haus home designs connect organically with natural systems by building in mature neighbourhoods with fantastic natural surroundings.  We also include aged wood in our builds with noticeable patina.

Natural Analogues

Natural Analogue Patterns focus on the organic, non-living and implied elements of nature in a space. These natural representations, the textures, ageing processes, natural geometries, materials, colours, shapes, sequences and patterns found in the natural world provide an indirect sense of the great outdoors.

Timber Haus utilizes the gentle, ordered, or complex art of nature in our designs. Natural analogues can trigger our biophilic human link to nature to inspire a rich, or perhaps subtle sense of well-being.

8) Biomorphic forms and patterns represent natural forms often abstractly, relying on contour, patterns, and textures to connect with nature. These forms can appear in architectural or structural form or smaller, more decorative applications. Often Timber Haus uses this design element in feature walls, fireplaces, kitchen design, and exterior design.

9) Material connection to nature uses building materials, grains, textures, and elements in design that distinctly reflect the natural environment to create an overarching sense of the natural world. These material connections to nature feature prominently in Timber Haus’s homes.  Feature walls, flooring, fixtures, and exterior design are just a few of the places you will find material connections to nature.

10) Complexity and order are some of the more abstract principles of biophilic design. It creates a visually nourishing environment based on symmetries, fractal geometries and spatial hierarchies that occur in nature. Examples in nature include tree branches or river tributaries. Timber Haus incorporates this principle into home design through textile patterns, interior finishes, window details and façade ornamentation.

Nature of the Space Design Patterns

11) Prospect is the idea that centers on unobstructed views with varieties in-depth and focal lengths, such as those found in atriums, balconies, and staircase landings. By creating a space that feels open and airy, yet controlled and purposeful, we feel a sense of calm at our cores.

There is opportunity and potential in the vast area before us, yet because it is planned and intentional, often ending in a visible area of refuge, it provides safety.

Timber Haus incorporates the theory of prospect into our home design by incorporated unobstructed views in our homes.

12) Refuge gives people a sense of protection from environmental conditions and activity. Ideally, a refuge area should protect us on three sides and leave the fourth open to view the surroundings. It is vital to have some refuge areas. Creating a sense of safety and calm allows us to disconnect from the outdoor environment, including weather conditions and the hectic pace of modern life.

Timber Haus created refuge areas through reading nooks, window seats, bedrooms with large windows, and bathrooms that feel like a home spa.

13) Mystery refers to partially obscured views that stimulate our innate curiosity about what is covered, inviting us to move and explore the space further. It is the promise of more information achieved through partially obscured views or other sensory devices that entice the individual to travel deeper into the environment.

Timber Haus incorporates mystery through innovative design elements and house structure.

14) Risk/Peril is the balance of the sense of risk and the feeling of protection. Some spaces evoke the feeling of intrigue and greater stimulation when they provoke some risky feelings—the perception of falling, getting wet, hurt or losing control intrigue people. A great example of risk/peril is an infinity pool.

Timber Haus incorporates risk/peril through glass floors, floating staircases, or full-height windows. All these features are entirely safe but can give the illusion of peril.

The Health Benefits of the 14 Biophilic Patterns


Biophilic design patterns can make your home more enjoyable and give you enormous health benefits. Contact the team at Timber Haus for expert biophilic design today.

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