SKA rating for HE – Focus on D77 Biophilic design

Imagine a world where hospital patients heal faster, schools where children’s test scores are higher, offices where workers are more productive and communities where people are happier and healthier. What if I tell you that this is all possible?

The solution is simple and has always been around: nature. Biophilia is the effect that describes the human’s innate biological affiliation to other forms of life; our physical and emotional need to connect with nature. There is clear evidence that these experiences of nature have numerous positive effects on people and businesses, which have been recorded by many scientists and design practitioners. Research demonstrates that incorporating key principles of biophilic design improves stress recovery rates, lowers blood pressure, improves cognitive functions, enhances mental stamina and focus, decreases violence and criminal activity, elevates moods and increases learning rates. These can be linked and part-quantified to measurable indicators such as: illness and absenteeism, staff retention, job performance (mental stress/fatigue), healing rates, classroom learning rates, retail sales, violence statistics etc.

It is important to note that views of what constitutes natural, nature, wild, or beautiful, still greatly vary, and their interpretation into the internal environment is at the early stages of being defined, but we know are not limited to just plants and landscape scenery. The importance of daylight, forms, shapes and textures that echo those found in nature, and ‘territory’ must also be addressed.

With the introduction of this new Good Practice Measure, it is more important that you, clients and designers, are familiar with the concept, and how biophilic principles can bring a positive benefit to the working and living environments and their occupants (see SKA GPM D77 Biophillic design).

So how can you incorporate biophilia into your design? Here is a step-by-step guide on how to approach it:

  1. Increase daylight
  • Maximise the use of skylights and external windows and ensure all occupied areas have access to natural daylight. Beware to also consider glare from shiny surfaces or direct sunlight into people’s eyes.
  1. Create views out to nature
  • Providing outside views supports wellbeing (D39 Outside views). Applying this measure leads to reduction of eye strain by ensuring access to long distance views, and the psychological benefit experienced from views to naturally lit spaces. In certain instances, internal large atria can also part-provide some of the benefits.
  1. Improve indoor air quality
  • Improve ventilation rates (see D33 Ventilation rates).
  • Install VOC and CO2 monitors; Installing monitoring systems will raise awareness of the VOC and CO2 levels in each interior space and encourage the occupier to undertake corrective actions to reduce polluting episodes. Low levels of CO2 allow good cognitive function and so well performing brains! Low or zero VOC emissions will not aggravate asthma and allergy effects over long periods of exposure.
  • Introduce indoor plants. Incorporating appropriate greenery can reduce levels of airborne dust, air temperatures and background noise. It can also ad moisture in the air when many high ventilated spaces can become very dry from the thermal comfort requests and IT machinery.
  1. Indoor lighting
  • Lighting design should utilize the principles of varying intensities of light and dark, cool and warm colour light that change over time to create conditions that occur
in nature. The effects link to hormone system in the human body linking to steady sleeping patterns, digestion and reproduction.
  1. Incorporate references to nature
  • Where possible, use finishes, fittings, furniture, colours and patterns that utilize symbolic references found in nature. Stone, moss, pebbles, tree bark, sand, tree cascades, river patterns or animal feathers can all show shapes and patterns that can be referenced.
  1. Create a feel of safety
  • Support the theory of “prospect and refuge” – design environments that feel secure but offer interest/information and thereby meet basic human psychological needs. Plan all focused work and calm break areas so that users sit with their backs close to a wall, low level screen or similar screening and can view other people who are entering or circulating through the space.
  • Define zones according to activities i.e. for focus and productive work, or for relaxation and restoration. Provide a separate breakout space that is adequate in size and supports the biophilic design principles.



Biophilic design points the way toward creating positive and productive environments; it’s necessary for our health and wellbeing. Our mission at Grigoriou Interiors is to provide sustainable environments that enable people and businesses to perform and grow to their best, while caring for our natural environment.

So how can we help? We can provide our design expertise in the following areas, if you…

…want us to create magic? – We provide a start-to-finish interior design service

…want to know how to create a working environment where people can feel and perform at their best? – Perform ‘a better place’ wellbeing study 

…want to benchmark the environmental performance of your project and get it certified? – Obtain a quotation for a SKA rating assessment

If you would like to find out more, please get in touch with us.

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