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Biophilic moodboards: creating refuge areas in interiors

in biophilic moodboards

Feeling protected is the reason why buildings were first created, and it remains an essential sensation for a space to be perceived as comforting and inviting. In biophilic design terms, this introduces the notion of refuge.

This episode of Biophilic Moodboards looks into the concept of refuge, as well as how it translates into designed features…

Biophilic moodboard showing a sense of refuge: 1. A curved sofa. 2. A seating nook. 3. An enveloping hanging chair
Credits (from top left): OOAA Arquitectura, Éléonore Levai + Benjamin Belaga, Dedon. Moodboard: anooi studio

about refuge

The dictionary defines a refuge as “a place that provides shelter or protection”.

Designed spaces host a number of activities, each sitting at a different level on the private-to-social scale. Gathering activities and time for the self require different spatial features, and refuge areas provide secluded and calm alcoves for quiet activities.

An enveloping hanging chair.
Credit: Dedon

refuge in designed spaces

Taking inspiration from places that provide shelter in nature, restorative refuge areas are small yet comfortable in size and shielded from the rest of the space. Ideally, a refuge should provide protection from three sides and leave the fourth open to view the surroundings, thus achieving a balanced combination of refuge and prospect.

Reading nooks and window seats are perfect interior design examples. But the same concept applies to whole areas as well. In the context of a home, bedrooms and bathrooms are usually the most private rooms.

Bathtub nested in a secluded alcove with an open view.
Credit: Ross Farm – Ph: Sean Fennessy
Window seat with view to a lush garden.
Credit: Obumex – Ph: Stephanie Mathias

besides relaxation

Refuge areas can serve different functions in different spaces. Besides relaxation, concentration and privacy are feelings that also fit into the scope of refuge.

Being sheltered by definition, refuge areas can create the right conditions for concentration, both in the workplace and in domestic offices. In public spaces such as restaurants and urban areas, the concept of refuge may inspire the creation of secluded nooks and alcoves inside a bigger space, making the experience of the space more inclusive and comfortable for everyone.

Bench with a curved profile that creates individual refuge areas for each person seating.
Credit: Paul Cocksedge

Refuge is a fascinating concept that inspires a reflection on the experience of space. Those insights will inform more intentional design choices, achieving spaces where people can feel and function better.

Biophilic design resources by anooi:
A Biophilic YearApplying Biophilic DesignVisual Library of Biophilic Design