20 Nature-Loving Homes Where Biophilia Thrives

20 Nature-Loving Homes Where Biophilia Thrives

By Luo Jingmei
Flourishing with greenery, natural materials, organic textures, and sunlight, these designs put wellness first.

Our challenging times have propelled new discussions about how to incorporate wellness into home design, and bringing greenery indoors continues to be an important part of the conversation. A key aspect of biophilic design, a direct connection with nature helps us stay healthy, relaxed, and focused.

In 1984, Harvard naturalist Edward Wilson published Biophilia, meaning "love of life," in which he described humans’ innate connection with nature and our tendency to suffer in hermetic, urban environments where it’s largely absent. Biophilic design focuses not only on plant life, but also daylight, ventilation, water, and natural materials. Together, these elements can increase our immunity, boost natural circadian rhythms, regulate temperature, and inspire a sense of tranquility. The biophilic homes below incorporate these principles to promote balanced, peaceful living.

Living Grid House by L Architects

The Living Grid House designed by L Architects in Singapore features a dynamic screen with planters that provide shade, privacy, and a close connection with nature. The facade design was part of a renovation in which the second-story rooms were extended outward to replace former balconies. 

An irrigation system incorporated into the metal framework makes living with plants fuss-free. Choosing tropical plants means that the screen remains lush throughout the year.

A skylight illuminates this house in Kyoto designed by architect Joe Chikamori of 07Beach. Since the compact site and programming left little room for a backyard garden, the living area was developed as an interior courtyard situated around an indoor ficus tree. The house also features plenty of Hinoki wood, which is soft to walk on and has good heat insulation properties.

Nestled in the jungle of São Paulo, Casa de Vidro (or Glass House) was the first built project by architect Lina Bo Bardi. Its glass volume stands on thin support columns that allow greenery to grow into the home.

Combining neutral tones, natural materials, and indoor/outdoor living, Am House is a reprieve from the bustle of Ho Chi Minh City. A moat with koi fish cools the interiors, and the thatched roof reduces solar heat gain.

Balconies bring the outdoors in. The architect of this apartment in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Chacarita covered the terrace in a perforated skin for shade. During winter, it helps to trap heat and keep the interiors warm. Light streams through the balcony into the interiors of the compact, 269-square-foot home. 

Even a small patio can have a monumental effect. A green wall in this kitchen patio also brings views to the higher parts of the slender town house, located in the West Village in New York. The counter and floor, clad in gray honed slate, and the teak-clad walls and bench complement the greenery. 

Natural light is an important factor in creating biophilic spaces. The primary bathroom of this house in Venice, California, sits deep in the plan but has three sources of natural light—a skylight, small window, and translucent glass wall shared with the kitchen. 

Using natural materials is one way of bringing nature indoors. Oiled white ash floors and ceilings, along with Italian poplar and Lawson cypress joinery, are found throughout architect Andrew Simpson’s 538-square-foot home outside Wellington, New Zealand.

Biophilic design prefers natural over synthetic materials, as human beings innately feel more at ease with the former. In this house in Israel, the limestone walls are recycled from dismantled houses in the region. The stone staircase is original.

An internal courtyard punctuates the main floor of this renovated home near Melbourne, Australia, and adds a practical source of light and air. The local climate patterns were taken into account during the home’s design and layout. Because temperatures can vary quite dramatically, solar control was very important. The large glazed sliders to the east, where the home gets morning sun, strategically contrast with the less extensive glazing to the north.

Sky Pool House by Guz Architects

A swimming pool at the top floor of the Sky Pool House by Guz Architects in Singapore has a glass cut-out in its floor to bring the calm feeling of water overhead to the lower levels. This accompanies plenty of roof and ground gardens to immerse the occupants as much as possible within nature.

The architect uses bodies of water—whether it be a fish pond or swimming pool—as focal points for a therapeutic effect. The presence of water can reduce stress and lower heart rate and blood pressure, as well as improve concentration and productivity. 

A kids’ bathroom in a San Francisco home features exquisite botanical tiles by London studio Glithero. A team of Dutch craftspeople use pressed weeds to create organic compositions that are eventually traced onto the tiles in charcoal. "I'll just stop in the hallway and find myself staring at those tiles," says the homeowner. "There are a couple moments in this house that are definitely art; it just happens to be functional."

Outdoor staircases can also incorporate greenery, taking advantage of the sunlight and rain that falls on them. In this house in Poland, a curved wall of windows envelop the open-air living room. The staircases outside leads to a green roof, which helps to retain heat in winter and cool interiors in summer. 

The feel of natural materials on the skin can make a home comforting. A Colour Carpet by Scholten & Baijings for HAY, made with 100% New Zealand wool, defines the play area in the child’s bedroom of this house in Hamburg, Germany. 

In this house in Melbourne, Australia, windows at the top and bottom of the double-volume living area flood both the first story and corridor upstairs with ample daylight. The double-height space makes the modest footprint of this part of the house feel open and light, says architect Sally Timmins. 

Organic lines mimicking those in nature can be soothing. Architect Tono Mirai, known for his "earth architecture," was inspired by the lush context for the design of this holiday home in Nagano, Japan. 

"When the clients first saw the fire in the rammed-earth fireplace, they told me it instinctively connected with them, and they felt calm," says architect Tono Mirai on the curved profile of this feature.

In this house in downtown Miami, lightweight, shuttered Western red cedar doors wrap the front porch to provide privacy and protection from the weather but support natural ventilation, which is important in biophilic design. The unstained wood will age naturally.

The semi-outdoor space extends the living room outward. Inside, a layer of glass sliding doors further facilitate breezes. The occupants can enjoy the sound and smell of rain behind shelter. 

Compound House by Linghao Architects

In Singapore, architect Ling Hao wrapped this entire house in greenery, which becomes the facade. The owner grew up in a rural environment and enjoys living among plants, rain puddles, and even the insects and wildlife that find their way here.

The common areas of this house are completely open, giving the occupants an unimpeded relationship with nature. Against a backdrop made with raw and natural materials, the abundant plants cool the house immensely.

In this home in Venice Beach, California, every interior space is accompanied by an outdoor room. The homeowners often dine on the patio adjacent to the kitchen. The rooms are intimately scaled but feel expansive due to their visual and physical connection to the environment. 

The living and dining room look out to the central courtyard, promoting indoor/outdoor living. Here, five doors slide into a pocket in the wall to create a nearly 23-foot-wide opening on one side looking into the garden. Another set on the opposite side enhances cross ventilation. 

Bathrooms are places for physical and spiritual cleansing. A green view amplifies the feeling of rest and relaxation in this surfer’s house in San Francisco; the sliding glass panels in the bathroom open to put the tub in the tree canopy.

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