view of outdoor landscape from wood framed window

What is biophilia?

Biophilia, defined as an innate emotional connection to nature, is one design consideration that hotels are using to create happier, healthier guests and employees.

How does biophilia apply to design?

Human beings are genetically predisposed to prefer certain natural settings such as the savannah environment.  Biophilic design is essentially a combination of architecture and interior design to create a space that people find to be like the environments that would make early mankind feel ‘at home’.

What are some elements of biophilic design?

Spatial size, scale, openness, natural light, colors, textures, patterns and even sounds and smells all factor into the overall feel of the space whether we are aware of these psychological effects or not.  In general, the more ‘natural’ these design elements are, the more relaxed the occupants.  While not all the elements are necessary to create a calming space, the right combination of even a few can go a long way to make people feel more relaxed and comfortable in their surroundings.  For an incredibly detailed description and study of biophilic design, check out TERRAPIN Bright Green’s 14 Patterns of Biophilic Design.

How is biophilic design used in hotels today?

As we all know, a room with a view is a bit more expensive and it has been this way for a long time.  The captivating and relaxing quality of a room with views to the outdoors are more of a luxury regardless of the hotel’s location.  It may be a beach view, a mountain view, or a city view.  Hotels typically price a room with a view anywhere from 11%-18% higher than those without.

Some hotels take biophilic design to a whole new level by designing the entire hotel around these elements from the start to create total nature immersion.  The Mashpi Lodge in Ecuador, for instance, immerses you completely in the rain forest for a total reconnection with nature.  Built on a wildlife reserve, the hotel allows guests to fully interact with the animal and plant life around the hotel while protecting and preserving surrounding beauty with its sustainable operational practices.

The Juvet Hotel in Norway and VIVOOD Landscape Hotel in Spain, also offers some amazing views to nature that completely blur the lines between indoors and out.  For a similar style retreat in the New England area, check out Getaway House to get in touch with nature and recharge your brain.

While these hotels are designed around nature, those that are not can still utilize biophilic design strategies to update and improve their current spaces.  The use of stone and wood and earth tones in the interior design can go a long way in creating soothing spaces versus using metal and colors and patterns that are not typically found in nature.  Incorporating plants and water features inside also will have stress reducing effects on the occupants.