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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, the biophilic notion of prospect refers to uninterrupted views over a distance. Providing a sense of safety and control, prospect views contribute to making a space feel comfortable and pleasant to be in. This episode of Biophilic Moodboards explores how prospect applies to interior design…

Moodboard showing three examples of prospect. 1. A living room with a deep view onto a lake. 2. A long straight corridor. 3. A wide view of a river.
Credits (from top left): Layered, Space Modification Unit, Nordic Knots. Moodboard: anooi studio

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.

A wide view of a river.
Credit: Nordic Knots

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.

An elongated restaurant space.
Credit: YOD – Ph: Andriy Bezuglov
Partition wall made of wood pillars and plants to add coverage.
Credit: Egue y Seta - Ph: Vicugo Foto

blurring boundaries

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.

Kitchen with a huge window instead of a backsplash.
Credit: Walker Workshop
A living room with a deep view onto a lake.
Credit: Layered

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.

* Sources:

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