Investing in Biophilic Design – Earth Day 2023

Posted by on Apr 25, 2023 in Architecture, Education

Investing in Biophilic Design – Earth Day 2023

Earth day has rolled around again and this year we want to talk more about one of our projects that centres around the concept of Biophilic Design. Biophilic design is an approach to architecture and interior design that incorporates nature and natural elements into the built environment. The goal of biophilic design is to enhance human well-being and our connection to nature by creating spaces that mimic natural environments and incorporate natural elements.

What does this have to do with Earth Day?

The aim of Earth Day is to drive public focus towards prioritising the planet. Biophilic design inherently builds connections to nature and natural spaces, but it also actively has a positive impact on climate change. As such, incorporating biophilic design inherently is a positive step for our planet.

Biophilic design has been shown to have numerous benefits, including improved mood, reduced stress, and increased creativity and productivity. It can also have positive effects on physical health, such as reducing blood pressure and improving sleep quality.

This type of design has also become a focus within the Scottish Government’s new National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4). The overarching vision of NPF4 is to create a “successful, sustainable and inclusive Scotland” that is “net-zero by 2045, a country that is fair, flourishing and resilient, with wellbeing at its heart”.

How are GLM incorporating biophilic design in practice?

Biophilic design is a style that has been incorporated by GLM across a range of projects, predominantly within workplace design. Recently, we’ve been working with a social enterprise who are hoping to create an innovation campus in the Highlands of Scotland for innovation in food technology and skills development. GLM have submitted the project to planning, and are confident that the project will be granted permission.

As part of the application, GLM demonstrated the overarching focus on sustainability which is a key factor within NPF4. The innovation campus hopes to become a grassroots aquaponics facility, developing and enhancing the role of aquaponics in food production as a sustainable food source.

Biophilic design is inherent to this project through the presence of plants as part of a closed growing cycle that is less intensive than traditional farming methods. There will be an area of the campus dedicated to growing plants as ingredients for the training kitchen using aquaponics. Aquaponics is a system that combines aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (growing plants without soil) in a symbiotic relationship.


In this system, fish waste provides nutrients for plants, while the plants purify the water for the fish. This closed-loop system requires less water and land than traditional farming methods, and it also reduces the need for synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.


As well as the aquaponics garden, the design of the buildings and landscape focus on natural light and the incorporation of nature. The training centre for example has a green wall at the back and incorporates a tree into the entrance porch roof. These elements are part of our wider design focus on creating natural environments for users of a space.

Some facilities on the campus will be sited within geodesic domes. The domes have been designed to provide as much natural light as possible and to create a feeling of being sheltered but with full ability to enjoy and appreciate nature and the surroundings.

We look forward to seeing the completion of this project and how we can continue to incorporate Biophilic Design within other projects in the future.

The innovation campus very clearly demonstrates a consciousness for the environment and creating more sustainable food technologies and habits. Moreover, the campus also recognises the importance of incorporating plants, light, and natural green spaces within the wider site and surroundings. We look forward to this project progressing, in the knowledge of the benefits it will have in improving the sustainability of our food economy, and in creating green, healthy spaces for the users of the campus, tourists and locals in the Tain neighbourhood.


Taylor Davison

Architectural Technologist