Biophilic moodboards: making interiors calming with prospect views

in biophilic moodboards

Prospect is one of the elements of biophilic design that is sometimes perceived as intimidating for its strange name. But it really isn’t anything that difficult!

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 a forest.
If you look in front of you, you'll have trees here and there, but if you watch through the branches you’ll still be able to see in the distance.
This is also prospect.

In short words, what biophilic design calls prospect is an uninterrupted view over a distance, like the ones I’ve put together in the Biophilic Moodboard of this month…

Moodboard showing three examples of prospect: a bridge over the ocean, an open space with huge window and an interior with a big window looking into an expanse of water.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credits (from top left): Fabian Geest (opened in a new window/tab), Akhil Ab (via Instagram) (opened in a new window/tab), Nguyễn Thành (via Behance) (opened in a new window/tab)

The benefits of prospect views

Coming to the benefits on wellbeing, prospect views have been shown* to reduce stress levels and create a sense comfort and safety.
This is because being able to see far into the distance conveys a sense of control and supervision, hence safety. This is an automathic reaction of our brain, that goes back to our ancestors. They lived in wild savannahs and being able to see into the far distance made them sure there were no predators nor any other danger coming. So for them, prospect views were providing safety in the literal sense!
For us that’s not the case anymore, but our brain still responds in the same way to open uninterrupted views.

Living room with a full-wall window looking into the sea.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Dualchas Architects (via Instagram) (opened in a new window/tab)

How biophilic design creates prospect 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 into an interior is something that has been trending for the last few decades: open spaces.
Knocking down walls and having one big living area that includes different functions does exactly what prospect suggests: it creates the deepest possible view.

Elongated open plan living area with the back wall fully glazed.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Rob Mills (opened in a new window/tab)

From a functional point of view though, separation might still be needed for privacy or just to divide different functional areas. The best way to provide separation without defeating prospect is using dwarf walls or some kind of see-through partition.
Smoked glass doors, shelving units that are open on both sides and perforated room dividers are all good ideas.

Open living space partitioned with a drawf wall where the TV is also fitted.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Peny Hsieh Interiors (opened in a new window/tab) - Photo by © Hey!Cheese

And room divider is also one of the uses of plants in interiors.

Partition wall made of wood pillars and plants to add coverage.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Egue y Seta (opened in a new window/tab) - Photo by Vicugo Foto

Designign prospect in small spaces

When large square footage is available, it will be enough to knock down a few walls to end up with a good-sized open space. But what about small spaces?
When the space indoors is not that big, it is still possible to create prospect. And that’s done using windows in the right way.
Designing the biggest possible windows stretches the view from indoors to outdoors, as far as the eye can see and this will do wonders in making the space feel larger than it actually is! Even better, if the window is full-height we might even achieve a real indoor-outdoor living space!

Interior opening on a balcony with a glazed balustrade that divides it from the deep vista over the sea.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Mathieson Architects (opened in a new window/tab) - Photo by Romello Pereira
Small bedroom with large windows that make the room look bigger.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Bone Structure (via Houzz) (opened in a new window/tab)

Creating a view into the distance by using windows also comes with further benefits.
When designing with the view in mind, the landscape becomes part of the interior, and this creates a better connection with the surrounding environment. If there’s some greenery outdoors, this will also provide a good dose of nature to look at, with all its colours, textures, movements and seasonal changes.

Kitchen with a huge window instead of a backsplash.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Walker Workshop (opened in a new window/tab)

For an even more stunning effect, prospect can also be mixed with risk. That's the case – for instance – of a huge floor-to-ceiling window that is elevated with respect to the view it looks into. This will create a perceived risk of falling down, while being totally safe in reality!

Bedroom with fully glazed wall looking into the sea.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Houzz (opened in a new window/tab)

To sum up, prospect views are another precious tool in biophilic design.
A balanced combination of prospect and cozy refuge areas can really transform the feeling related to an interior, making it calming, welcoming and astonishing at the same time! And of course, all that while valuing the natural surroundings!

* Sources:

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