BIOPHILIA: An essential approach in a changing society

By Marie Eve ISSA

Projects director and Founder designer of ISSADESIGN

Last November, I was invited by the organizers of Rendez-vous Infopresse: The Office of Tomorrow, to give a lecture on biophilia. I accepted right away, even if I had to speak on a stage, with a microphone, in front of 250 of my peers.

Biophilic design is, for us at the agency, a must. Even more, I'd say it's the DNA of our projects and our creative process. Before we even put a name on it, we integrated these concepts intuitively and I am convinced that most of you integrate biophilia in your spaces, perhaps consciously or unconsciously. I will share with you on our blog a small summary of this conference thanks to some technical and theoretical notions about biophilia.

Before I start, I'll ask you to visualize your favorite place to take your vacation.

I'm sure most of you think of an outdoor place! The forest, the sea, the mountains ... We are naturally attracted to nature because it makes us feel good. This is a concrete demonstration of biophilia and biophilic design.


For much of human history, humans have evolved in close association with nature. As a result, the body and the human spirit have largely developed in response to the threats and opportunities associated with the natural world. For example, knowledge of plants, animals, soil and water could largely determine whether a person would survive or not.

Although most creatures relied on their speed, strength, and other physical powers to survive, the human being relied on his brain and reasoning ability. These intellectual abilities have enabled humans to overcome their physical limitations and eventually become creative beings that can exploit and even control their environment.


In the early 2000s, there is a translation of the psychological and biological theory of biophilia towards the integration of this practice into the design of the built environment. The term biophilic design was born, but its practice has existed for centuries and centuries.

Biophilic design is therefore the theory, science and practice of creating nature-inspired buildings in order to reconnect people with nature in the spaces where we live and work every day. Its fundamental purpose is to design built environments that meet the intrinsic biological needs of the human being. In short, biophilic design creates spaces that take into account human evolution and the ecosystem to which we belong in order to reduce stress and restore energy levels through diversified strategies.


For several decades, contact with nature in office spaces has been seen as a waste of money, space and time. As soon as we had electricity to make ourselves comfortable inside the buildings, we closed the walls that previously let the sun in to warm us up and the air to cool off. We gradually became locked in sealed buildings. In these circumscribed buildings, the efficient use of space has become a big challenge. Challenge that quickly put technology at the center of our office space. Lighted, artificially ventilated, windowless office spaces have become the norm. Yes we can survive in these sealed environments, but after a while we begin to feel fatigue, discomfort and a drop of enthusiasm.

Since humans are diurnal, sight is one of the most important senses of our well-being. Confusion and anxiety are quickly felt when working in a windowless or enclosed space.

Biophilic design is therefore an interesting alternative since it is proven that this practice can reduce stress, increase creativity and therefore offer the employee the opportunity to work in a healthy, less stressful space, allowing us to improve our general health and our sense of well-being.

Picture credit : Index-Design