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You may not have heard the term biophilia but rest assured you are already familiar with the concept. Biophilia is the idea that humans and nature have an intrinsic bond and that people should nurture this bond instead of fighting it. Biophilic design, designing with this relationship in mind, takes a myriad of forms. Done right, it benefits both people and the planet.

Good biophilic design reduces stress, expedites the healing process and improves physical health; but you probably don’t need a study to tell you what may seem obvious. Have you felt more relaxed looking at a sunset photo? Had a burst of energy after opening the blinds? Felt oddly satisfied beside a fire, even if it wasn’t too cold? Terrapin Bright Green, the sustainability consulting firm (founded by Bill Browning, competition jury member) refers to the study and focus of the design aspects that define biophilic design as “rediscovering the intuitively obvious.”

Urban design can often put humans at odds with nature. The dominant approach to modern architecture doesn’t always take the natural environment into consideration—disregarding airways, light, colors, materials, views and natural forms. In fact some architectural styles including Brutalism design structures that deliberately contrast with and defy nature and natural forms. But humans have evolved in a bio-centric manner—not one of the built world. When parks, buildings and spaces are designed with nature in mind, people tend to feel better, more balanced and more restored. There are many ways that effective and positive biophilic design plays out and the practice is generally divided into three categories:

Direct Experience of Nature: Direct experience refers to tangible contact with nature and natural features. The proliferation of apartment urban jungles is just one example.

Indirect Experience of Nature: Indirect experience denotes contact with representations of nature, versus nature itself. If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by Yosemite’s beauty through a photograph, you’ve had an indirect experience of nature.

Experience of Space and Place: Experience of space and place points to our spatial relationships. Logical transitional spaces and integration of parts to whole, for instance wings of a hospital, are aspects of well-designed space and place.

BrandCulture and PosterTerritory’s Biophilia Poster Competition invites all who are inspired by biophilia to explore what this way of thinking about the relationship between humans and nature means and provides. We believe that good design should change the way we look at the world and great design can change the world itself. As Elizabeth Calabrese, Biophilic Educator and Architect and competition jury member, has said: “I see us, as a humanity, moving towards a new design ecology, one that embraces complex system thinking, creative problem solving, ecology and biophilia while promoting the understanding of our interconnectedness to a world much greater than ourselves.” 

We look forward to your contribution!

Posters by Parisa Tashakori, Itoh Toyotsugu, Peng Liu, Hiroyuki Matsuishi