Biophilic design: groen in jouw huis én jouw stad

Biophilic design and biophilic urbanism. Say what? Before you immediately start to click away: we think these terms can be very interesting for you and are closer to you than you think. Especially if you just have a balcony at your cozy apartment in the city! To be honest: we didn't know anything about it either, but we dug in deep. With this introduction for n00bs we turn the material into bite-sized chunks for you. Are you diving in?

bio·​phil·​ia - 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

Love for green in your life

The terms biophilic design and biophilic urbanism are derived from biophilia. In a literal sense this means: to love life. The German-American psychologist Erich Fromm described biophilia in the 1960s as man's natural tendency to love everything that lives. The American biologist Edward O. Wilson elaborated on this: in 1984 he presented the biophilia hypothesis. Wilson made the nuance that people in this love for all living things have the need for a bond with nature. We as humans are attracted to nature, have a natural affection for it. This is where this craving for nature comes from, which you can feel in your toes.

So it is not surprising that you are so happy when you are hiking in the woods or hanging out on the beach. Often, as a city dweller, you have to travel quite a distance for that. What about greenery closer to home? That park around the corner, perhaps, where you do your daily round, preferably with a coffee to go in hand. In cities, greenery is deliberately planted - as an essential part of our lives, also within the city walls. You too can contribute to making your living environment greener. Placing greenery in your outdoor space, even if it is only a small balcony, is effective for your happiness, as well as greening your street, neighborhood and city. This is where biophilic design and biophilic urbanism come in.

Biophilic design example upperbloom plants modern

How, what, where? Biophilic design and biophilic urbanism

Fulfilling our longing for nature is complicated by our life in the city, to which we migrate to for more opportunities in terms of work and such. We gain energy from life in the city, which is vibrant, inspiring and alive! But at the same time, we suffer from a lack of time in nature. This is addressed with biophilic design: design that is placed in the urban environment, taking nature as its starting point. It has to be said: what a cool name. Sounds good, doesn't it? Powerful term, powerful concept. Nature as a necessity of life meets design.

This is exactly what Upperbloom does: our subscription to plants and planters makes it easy for you to bring that little piece of nature to your balcony, garden or terrace. By doing so, you contribute to the greening and livability of the city.

Other examples of design with elements of biophilia? Indoors you can think of walls full of plants, floating platforms with space for plants on top or an indoor tree. In public spaces we see green facades, green roofs and high-rise buildings with greenery, for example in apartment buildings.

A large and well-known biophilic design concept is the Google headquarters in California, decorated with plants, trees and accompanying bicycle lanes. In Singapore, parks and other green spaces are connected with a smart network of walking, running and cycling paths throughout the island: called the Park Connector Network. The green paths have a distance of more than three hundred (!) kilometers. A great example of modern city-planning. And the image below also makes us instantly happy: the hanging gardens of Babylon, a textbook example of biophilic design. A great place to stroll around for hours - we just have to go back in time a few hundred years, to ancient times.

Biophilic design upperbloom plants BABYLON
Biophilic design example upperbloom plants

As an extension of biophilic design is biophilic urbanism. This concerns meeting our need for nature by systematically returning it to various places in the city. After all, you can place a few trees and green facades in one of the ten districts, but that is not all. The desire for nature must be satisfied in several locations. From green buildings, to a green district, to a green city. Urban nature is preferably all around you.

Why is a green city important?

Nature in your environment has a strong influence on your physical and mental health. Green makes you relax, move around and put your mind at rest. Both big nature reserves and small pieces of greenery in the middle of the city contribute to this. A modern, green urban design is healthy, sustainable and has a positive influence on the economy and the climate of the city. That is why biophilic design is so essential to the well-being of the inhabitants and the city itself.

The scale of the concept counts on a small scale too, the happiness of having a cup of coffee on your relaxing green balcony every day, and on a large scale, providing a fitter living environment throughout the city. Biophilic design has a relevant impact on crucial future-oriented topics, such as better temperature regulation on hot summer days. The impact of biophilic urbanism affects all beings in the city, both animal and human.

Do human beings have within them an innate sense of connection to other forms of life? If so, can this natural feeling, this "biophilia," both enhance our respect for ourselves as human and reinforce our sense of obligation to treat other forms of life with loving care.

- Environmental writer & historian T. H. Watkins

Modern construction projects increasingly value biophilic city planning, by integrating nature into urban construction. But improvements are also possible in existing buildings - just tackle those grey concrete blocks! Everyone can contribute. The more people place plants in their gardens or on their balconies, the greener their living environment becomes. Municipalities, initiative takers and local residents are also tackling the greening of the city with increasing thoroughness. Biophilic design also contributes to this: people start to feel more connected with their surroundings and with each other, which gives a place a stronger social interpretation under the heading of biophilic participation. Ready to make a difference together. To build up that neighbourhood or city with which a solid connection has been made into something more beautiful. For now and for the future.

Next time, look around a little better when you're racing through your town on your bike. That greenery is really there, but you have to have your eyes on it.

About Upperbloom

With Upperbloom's planting service, your balcony or terrace will be green and lively all year round. You can put together your ideal balcony set, consisting of plants and planters with our clever watering system. Two or three times a year (you choose!) you will get a change of plants. Our balcony experts install the plants on your balcony, after they have been potted for a few weeks for an extra boost. This is how we, along with you and other Upperbloom fans, contribute to an increase in biophilic design in the city. We stand for that greening, value a healthy city life. In an easy and accessible way, even if you don't have a green thumb.

Read more about Upperbloom in 5 points. When will we visit your balcony?


Kellert, S. (2016). Biophilic urbanism: the potential to transform. Smart and Sustainable Built Environment, 5(1), 4-8.

Tabb, P. J. (2020). Biophilic Urbanism. New York: Taylor & Francis.