News Brief

14 Design Patterns: Report Puts Science Behind Biophilia

Designers are given specific guidance on how to interpret and utilize the “14 Patterns of Biophilic Design” in a new report.

Passing under Michael Heizer's "levitated mass" at Los Angeles County Museum of Art may make your heart skip a beat, a great example of the "risk and peril" biophilic pattern.

Credit: Craig Dietrich. License: CC BY 2.0.
In another step toward solidifying our understanding of biophilia—our innate love of nature—Terrapin Bright Green contextualizes its much-heralded 14 Patterns of Biophilic Design in a free report available to the public. Prompted by an effort to help Google promote wellness in its workspaces, the 14 patterns pin down a language to discuss and differentiate the many ways design firms might inspire a connection to nature. Although the patterns have been public for some time, Terrapin’s report compiles the science behind each category and offers metrics, strategies, and design considerations for practitioners eager to put the concepts to the test.

For example, the first biophilic pattern, “visual access to nature,” becomes much more defined with the report’s instruction to “prioritize biodiversity over acreage, area, or quantity” and to “support a visual connection that can be experienced for at least 5 to 20 minutes per day.” A table near the beginning of the report shows this pattern is backed by rigorous empirical data and references studies demonstrating that this strategy helps to reduce stress, increase cognitive performance, and positively impact mood.

Even for patterns that some might find hard to grasp, like “risk and peril,” the report lists design features that achieve the desired effect: in this case, if you’re thinking double-height atriums, transparent floor planes, or life-size photographs of spiders or snakes, you are on the right track.

The full report can be downloaded from the Terrapin Bright Green webpage.

Published December 1, 2014

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