Biophilic design is steadily growing as a design priority. The concept of biophilia – the innate human desire for a connection with nature – translates easily to the world of architecture, and it’s changing how we look at building design. While biophilic design has been most popular in corporate workspaces, it’s also found acclaim in the hospitality industry. Here are some of my favorite hospitality spaces that utilize biophilic design in truly unique ways.
Westin Buffalo Makes Biophilia Part of the Experience
In 2016, Westin Hotels & Resorts opened Westin Buffalo, a 116-room hotel, 7,300 square feet of event space, a restaurant offering wood-fired cooking, and Westin’s renowned fitness programs. However, unlike most new hotels, Westin Buffalo was built with biophilia in mind. The hotel features abundant use of textured wood, views of nature, and an earthy color palette. A noteworthy detail is the hotel’s meandering pathways; since straight lines do not exist in nature, these curved paths help to reinforce the natural connection. Additionally, Westin continued its tradition of installing vertical gardens in public seating and lounge areas.
From C+TC Design Studio: Daylight, plenty of wood, and a vertical garden make this Westin Buffalo lounge a biophilic haven
Biophilia was a priority throughout the planning process, which makes Westin Buffalo truly noteworthy. Many buildings have been redesigned in a biophilic manner, but Westin Buffalo is part of a growing number of buildings that have biophilia built into them from day one. It’s incorporating many of the concepts that Terrapin Bright Green considered in its Human Spaces 2.0 report, which found that biophilic design enhances the guest experience which in turn increases the value associated with the room cost, making it beneficial for both the hotel and guests.
From C+TC Design Studio: Rooms with weathered wood create a contemporary lodge environment for guests
Hudson Hotel Boasts Strikingly Beautiful Biophilic Features
From Terrapin Bright Green: A lush canopy overhangs the Hudson Hotel lobby
In terms of biophilic aesthetics, the Hudson Hotel is a masterpiece that includes some extraordinary biophilic elements. Most remarkably, the hotel brings the environment of nearby Central Park to the bar and lobby, where guests can enjoy a canopy ceiling. Ivy is strewn across the brick walls, and wood flooring adds an extra touch of biophilia.
From Morgans Hotel Group: The lobby’s environment molds the natural and the simulated for a biophilic experience
If that’s not enough, the hotel also features Private Park, which is part of the elevated lobby shown above. The park is designed to give guests an additional opportunity to experience nature with a picturesque outdoor terrace. This urban oasis is seasonally open during the warmer months, which improves the experience by allowing guests to explore the space in comfortable weather.
Denton’s Embassy Suites Hotel Showcases Biophilic Design
From Butler, Rosenbury & Partners: This green lobby features a luxuriant vertical garden
Biophilic design is easily associated with upscale hotels but designers are bringing the benefits to less costly hospitality spaces as well. In Denton, Texas, guests can find biophilic elements at Embassy Suites. The hotel and convention center was designed by award-winning firm Butler, Rosenbury & Partners and weaves biophilic design throughout the building. Some of the hotel’s biophilic features, like two vibrant 22-foot “living walls” consisting of 1,752 plants, are meant to be visual focal points. Wood on the ceiling incorporates natural material and helps to soften the space. Other features, like a patterned glass wall made to resemble the rings of a tree trunk, are subtle yet nonetheless impactful.
From Plant Interscapes: Dual living walls flank a stone water wall in the lobby of the Denton Embassy Suites
Biophilic design in hospitality is becoming more common and for good reason. As Lorraine Francis of Gensler reflects, “A cost-effective way to enhance the guest experience, it can bolster feelings of community, while improving well-being and health.” The bottom line is that guests are spending more time (and money) in hospitality spaces that leverage biophilic design, so expect to see this trend grow in the near future.