Bringing Biophilic Design into Smart Cities

Photo by Elifin Realty on Unsplash

There’s no denying that humans are connected to the environment in which they live. More research is emerging regarding the concept of biophilia and biophilic building design. 

Another trending topic is smart cities. When you put the two together, you get biophilic smart cities. It may seem like an oxymoron at first, but it’s entirely possible to incorporate biophilic design into the architecture needed to build a smart city. 

Using the most advanced technology, like artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT), smart cities can change the way people live and act in their environment.

Biophilic design aims to connect humans to nature to reduce stress and improve overall mental and physical well-being. Whether it’s placing more green plants within an office or building a city park with extra greenery, biophilic design has an array of benefits that architects and engineers should be aware of when designing smart cities.

It’s no secret that the world we live in is becoming increasingly dependent on technology, which comes with its own set of pros and cons. Smart cities may be the future of urbanism, but are there drawbacks to this? How can we stay connected to nature when we spend most of our time talking to virtual assistants or looking at our smartphone screens?

Let’s explore the pros and cons of bringing biophilic design to urbanized cities and how residents can benefit from this type of design.

Benefits of Biophilic Design

Within the built environment, biophilic design can positively impact the lives of its occupants. Before we explain the benefits of biophilic design, it’s crucial to understand the three categories that fall under the concept:

  1. Nature in the Space: A direct form of nature, whether it be sunlight, scents, breezes, water, presence of animals, shadows or a variety of other natural elements.
  2. Nature of the Space: Incorporating indirect spatial elements of nature, including expansive views, quiet sensory refuges and an increased sense of risk in some areas.
  3. Natural Analogues: A representation of natural elements — essentially artificial tangibles that mimic nature. 

Now that we know the difference between the three categories, we can understand how biophilic design can benefit humans occupying a specific space, especially in smart cities. Regardless of which category future designs fall under, they’ll undoubtedly upgrade the living conditions of those exposed to biophilic design.

Below are some examples of biophilic design benefits that should be considered when building smart cities:

  • Biophilic design makes our unnatural environment more natural, connecting us to our innate human tendencies to seek connections with nature.
  • Biophilic design improves our physical health by reducing stress, lowering blood pressure and accelerating recovery times.
  • Biophilic design has also been shown to boost mood, increase productivity, creativity, and concentration, among other mental benefits.
  • Biophilic design in the workplace has shown to keep employees happier and more productive when they have views, greenery and ample daylight.

It’s crucial for city planners, architects, engineers or anyone who contributes to smart city building to consider these benefits during the design process. 

Biophilic Smart Cities and the Environment

One of the primary reasons for building smart cities is the environmental benefits that smart cities provide. In addition to using advanced tech in buildings, the city should operate on sustainable energy and be better for the natural environment. 

In addition to improving living conditions for humans, certain species of animals will also benefit from the introduction of biophilic smart cities. Large cities are serving as wildlife refuges and emerge as small ecosystems for various wildlife species.

It’s critical to consider the environmental impact that building a biophilic smart city has on an area. The goal is to connect humans to nature, and animals play an essential role in our natural environment. Each animal contributes to the overall ecosystem in an urban setting — some even act as sustainable pest control in areas where agriculture is thriving. 

Another thing to consider is the role smart cities play in reaching net-zero emissions. Based on the current climate change issues we face, smart cities serve as a viable solution that would ultimately reduce the carbon emissions entering the air and polluting the cities we currently live in. 

Importance of Creating Biophilic Smart Cities

Incorporating biophilic design into a smart city shows designers’ commitment to improving living conditions for people and the environment. Smart cities will pave the way for more sustainable building practices, which will mitigate the risks and consequences of climate change. A biophilic smart city takes into consideration the interconnectedness of humans, technology and nature simultaneously.

Author bio:

Jane works as an environmental and energy writer. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of