The term “biophilia” was first used by 18th century psychoanalyst Erich Fromm to describe humanity’s “passionate love of life and of all that is alive”.
Biologist Edward O. Wilson later used it to explain humanity’s tendency to gravitate towards nature, its forms and creatures. Wilson believed biophilia to be innate, originating on a biological level.
Today the term is used to define our enduring connection to living things, our deep yearning to be surrounded by the natural world.
Biophilia explains why human beings appreciate the sound of the waves crashing on the shore, rain on the corrugated iron roofs, and birdsongs. It clarifies our desire to bring plants into our offices, to let natural light flood our homes, and keep animals as treasured pets.
In the built environment, biophilic principles have been shown to have positive effects on our psychological, physical and social well being. For example, in public spaces with more greenery, trees and vegetation, crime rates are lower. Studies have also shown people waiting at a bus stop experience less stress and perceive the waiting time as shorter when the bus stop is surrounded by nature.