top of page

Can Nature-Inspired Architectural Design Affect Cognition?

Updated: Aug 11, 2023

Biophilia. Translated as “love of life,” it is the concept that human beings are innately wired with a love of and desire to be in nature. Biologist E.O. Wilson based his life’s work on the belief that humanity “will find little ultimate meaning apart from the remainder of life.”[1]

A team from the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Neuroaesthetics decided to test Wilson’s theory by creating a biophilic room in their lab. The quest was to discover if biophilia can measurably affect cognition, attention, creativity, and mood.

“For some time now, we’ve been looking at the aesthetic experience of the . . . built environment and a bit of the natural environment. What we’ve been doing up to this point, and what’s typical of the field, is work that involves 2D images on a screen. But that’s not the same as what you get in a real-world experience.”

Adam Weinberger, a postdoctoral fellow in the Center’s lab, is one of the driving forces behind the biophilia project along with the Center’s director, Anjan Chatterjee. The two of them worked with a small team to transform one of the lab’s stark testing rooms into a nature-reminiscent paradise.

Chatterjee describes the project as DIY – with a budget of $1,500, their team designed and built out a room complete with a hand-dyed rug, open-edged wooden desk, bamboo light covers, and a mossy wall. They then ran a small pilot study to test the room’s effectiveness.

Want to know what they discovered?

[1] Biophilia, 81.



bottom of page