Biophilic Design and Behavioral Health: Implications for Art Selection

Contributed by Hank Hancock
December 13, 2017

Here’s a project in a Seattle behavioral health center that focuses on “biophilia,” a nature-based design strategy built upon evolutionary theory that is meant to improve psychological outcomes, with “results in environments that soothe, comfort, orient, and calm.”

Biophilic design connects building occupants to the cycles and patterns of nature by subtly incorporating cues reminiscent of the visual and spatial qualities of natural settings, such as through the use of patterns rather than the specific representations of nature. In this way, natural qualities can be readily brought indoors without being heavy handed or kitschy.

The implications for art selection in behavioral health facilities are profound. It is suggested here that rather than introduce a direct representation of tree subjects, designers can incorporate an abstraction of the verticality of trees into corridors that occupants move through.

The article also focuses on daily lighting strategies to engage occupants circadian rhythms, and is well-worth the read.