biophilic moodboards: making interiors calming with prospect views
in biophilic moodboards
Imagine you are on a beach. You look towards the sea and your sight gets lost in the boundless deep view, down to the horizon. This is prospect. Now imagine you are in a park or a rather sparse area of forest. If you look in front of you, you’ll have trees here and there, but watching through the branches you’ll still be able to see in the distance. This is also prospect.
In short, what biophilic design calls prospect is an uninterrupted view over a distance.
In this episode of Biophilic Moodboards we’re exploring how the notion of prospect applies to interior design…
prospect views and wellbeing
Prospect has been shown* to reduce stress levels and create a sense of comfort and safety. This is because prospect views allow seeing far into the distance, conveying a sense of control and supervision, hence safety.
This is an automatic reaction of our brain, that goes back to the early days of human beings. Our ancestors lived in wild savannahs where being able to see into the far distance meant being sure there were no predators or other dangers coming. For them, prospect views were providing safety in the most literal sense. This is no longer the case for us, but our brain still responds in the same way to open uninterrupted views.
Prospect is usually mentioned in combination with refuge, as the interaction of the two is what achieves the ultimate sense of comfort and safety: being able to look far into the distance from a protected and sheltered spot.
prospect views in interiors
In interior design, prospect views have the ability to visually elongate a space, making it feel airy and spacious.
One of the main ways to create prospect in interiors is through open spaces. Knocking down walls does exactly what prospect suggests: it creates the deepest possible view. If needed for privacy or to zone different functional areas, separation can still be achieved without defeating prospect: with dwarf walls or some kind of see-through partition. Smoked glass doors, shelving units that are open on both sides, perforated room dividers, and plants are all examples of the latter.
Windows blur the boundaries of interior spaces. By opening the view to the outdoors, they let the eye see further out into the distance, achieving prospect.
At the same time, views of nature allow taking in all the shapes, colours, textures, movements and cycles that happen outdoors, connecting the interior with its surroundings.
To sum up, prospect views are another precious tool to enrich the experience of the spaces we design, taking inspiration from spatial layouts found in the natural areas where human beings evolved as a species.
- Grahna Patrik, Stigsdotter Ulrika K. “The relation between perceived sensory dimensions of urban green space and stress restoration.” Landscape and Urban Planning Volume 94 (2010), Issues 3–4: 264-275.
- Dosen, Annemarie S., Ostwald Michael J. “Prospect and Refuge Theory: Constructing a Critical Definition for Architecture and Design.” The International Journal of Design in Society, no. 6 (1) (2013): 9-24.
- The 14 Patterns of Biophilic Design is a framework conceptualized by Terrapin Bright Green