The Importance of Plants in an Urban Environment
The Importance of Plants in an Urban Environment
Updated on 7th Sep 2016 by Planters
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Integrating Nature in Urban Developments 


Man’s genetic makeup is based on the essential connection to nature. In the early days, his very survival depended on it. From the hunter-gatherer to the beginnings of farming and food production, this link with the natural world was essential for survival and to this day remains ingrained deep within man’s conscious and subconscious. The term ‘biophilia’ refers to the connection that humans instinctively have to nature. 

The move to the cities 

The majority of people are living in ever-larger cities throughout the modern world. This trend is accelerating and it is projected that within the next thirty years the world will consist of 500 or so mega cities. Therefore, the vast majority of the world will find themselves living and working in these expanding cities. 

The challenge

The disconnect with nature that has been caused by living and working in urban spaces has significant effects on human’s behavior and sense of well being. The challenge for the future is how to restore and enhance well-being within the urban environment, by allowing and deepening this reconnection with nature.

“The future will belong to the nature-smart – those individuals, families, businesses and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real. The more hi-tech we become, the more nature we need.” (Richard Louv, author of ‘The Nature Principle – Human Restoration and the End of Nature Deficit Disorder’).

How to promote well-being in buildings by using the principles of biophilia in interior design

There are several ways in which biophilic design principles can be used to enhance the urban interiors of our cities:  

  • Bring nature inside with extensive interior landscaping using live plants 
  • Install live or preserved trees within the interior 
  • Use water features for their visual and audible impact 
  • Add vertical gardens, creating a high visual impact within unused space 
  • Install Plant wires, which are vertical hanging and trailing plants, ideal for atrium spaces 
  • Use natural materials in interior design 
  • Ensure views from the interior space onto a natural habitat outside
Indoor Green Wall - Restaurant

 Urban spaces – the challenges of good exterior landscape

Nature must be integral and part of the design brief for all urban developments from the outset. Done well and imaginatively it provides a win-win for all including the developer. Some examples of exterior landscapes that this approach benefits include:

  • Natural parks 
  • Golf courses 
  • Nurseries 
  • Woodland areas 
  • Access to water (lakes, beach, creek) 
  • Vertical gardens (green walls) up the sides of buildings 
  • Safe natural play areas for children 
  • Natural gym equipment within parks 
  • Pedestrian and cycle paths 
  • Natural organic roof coverings 
  • Planting areas for organic food production


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