What is biophilia?

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than one seeks.”

John Muir, July 19th 1877

The term biophilia is composed of two greek words, philia (love of) & bio (lives). To sum things up, biophilia means the appreciation of what is aliev, specific to nature. Merriam Webster dictionary defines it has ”a hypothetical human tendency to interact or be closely associated with other forms of life in nature; a desire or tendency to commune with nature.”

The term was first used in the 1973 book, by psychanalyst Eric Fromm, The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness.

In 1984, biologist Edward Osborne Wilson reuses the word in his book The Biophilia Hypothesis.


It proposes that humans have an innate tendency to look for the company & contact of nature in everyday life.


In the field of design & architecture, this concept is reinterpreted with the concept of biophilic design.

We can recognize it in the constellation of 14 recurring patterns. (Reference: 14 Patterns of Biophilic Design par W. Browning, C. Ryan, J. Clancy, 2014 edition, published by Terrapin Bright Green) These patterns are grouped within three families:

    • Nature in the Space Patterns
    • Natural Analogues Patterns
    • Nature of the Space Patterns
The Biophilia Hypothesis, Edward O. Wilson, 2014 edition

Nature in the Space Patterns

The patterns of this family try to directly reproduce the presence of nature in space. Items like flower pots, water gardens & features, landscaping & green walls.

Direct access & contact to the exterior / CAE, Montreal, AMA, 2021
Shadow effects, potted plants, rough concrete  / TouchTunes, Montreal, AMA, 2020

Natural Analogues Patterns

The integration of natural analogues patterns has the objective to create an ambiance as diversified, rich, organic & random as nature.

Nature of the Space Patterns

This last family of patterns consist in replicating the experience of space in nature. We can achieve this with the creation of pathways & layouts incorporating discovery, mystery, refuge, & even risk.

Sinuous pathways & level variations / In progress, AMA, 2022