Biophilic Lighting Design

by | Oct 23, 2023

Crafting Therapeutic and Calming Atmospheres in Public Spaces

Imagine entering a public space – be it a shopping mall, an office lobby, or a train station – and instantly feeling a sense of calm wash over you. The air seems fresher, the ambiance more comforting, and your mood noticeably uplifted. Such is the transformative power of biophilic lighting design, a design philosophy that seeks to strengthen the intrinsic connection between humans and nature through architectural elements, particularly lighting.

What is Biophilic Design?

Before we delve into lighting, let’s first understand biophilic design. “Biophilia,” a term popularized by Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson, means ‘love of living things.’ It stems from the idea that humans have an innate affinity for nature and natural processes. Biophilic design, therefore, integrates nature and its representations into the built environment. This integration goes beyond just placing a few plants here and there; it encompasses design strategies that resonate with our evolutionary connection to the natural world.

Limbic Media’s Singing Tree: Blue Mountain – AGORA, 2020

The Significance of Lighting

Lighting plays a pivotal role in setting the mood and ambiance of a space. It can either make a place feel warm and welcoming or cold and sterile. Biophilic lighting takes cues from nature to make artificial spaces feel more organic and harmonious. Consider the dappled sunlight filtering through a canopy of trees or the warm glow of a sunset. By mimicking these patterns, intensities, and rhythms, biophilic lighting seeks to recreate the therapeutic effects of natural light.

Limbic Media’s Campfire: Blue Mountain – AGORA, 2020

How Biophilic Lighting Enhances Public Spaces:

  • Circadian Rhythms: Our bodies are tuned to the natural rhythms of the sun. By incorporating lighting that adjusts with the time of day, mimicking the natural changes from dawn to dusk, we can support our internal circadian rhythms, potentially boosting mood and productivity.
  • Mood Enhancement: Natural lighting elements, like the soft glow of morning or the golden hues of the ‘golden hour’ before sunset, have been shown to uplift mood. Replicating these in public spaces can make them feel more comforting.
  • Reduction in Stress: There’s a reason why people gravitate towards spaces bathed in natural light. The organic movement and patterns of natural light, such as the flicker of candle flames or the shimmer of sunlight on water, can have a calming effect, reducing stress and anxiety.
  • Promotion of Well-being: A space that feels closer to nature inherently promotes well-being. The emotional benefits of being in nature – serenity, joy, and rejuvenation – can be brought indoors through thoughtful biophilic lighting design.

Implementing Biophilic Lighting Design:

  • Dynamic Lighting Systems: Modern LED systems can change intensity and colour temperature throughout the day, mimicking the sun’s natural path.
  • Layered Lighting: Using different layers (ambient, task, and accent) can recreate the depth and dimensionality of natural light
  • Natural Patterns and Movements: Incorporate fixtures or design elements that cast shadows reminiscent of foliage or use materials that create shimmering or rippling effects, reminiscent of water.
  • Integration with Natural Elements: Pair lighting with other biophilic design elements, like plants, and water features, or natural materials like wood and stone.
Limbic Media’s Floral Sculpture: Missouri Botanical Garden, 2022


Biophilic lighting design offers a unique opportunity to bring the healing and calming effects of nature into our daily urban environments. As public spaces play a crucial role in community well-being, investing in such designs can elevate our collective experience, making city life more attuned to our inherent love for the natural world. With the growing urbanization of our planet, such an approach isn’t just a design trend; it’s a necessary evolution for the well-being of all.

Limbic Media specializes in interactive, engaging light-based experiences. If you are looking to revitalize your public space, we are here to help; please get in touch

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