Biophilic Cities: Integrating Nature Into Urban Design and Planning

Tim Beatley

About the Book: Along with other important elements of urban greening, we must remember that human beings have an innate need to connect with the natural world (the biophilia hypothesis).

In Biophilic Cities, Beatley outlines the essential elements of a biophilic city and provides examples and stories about cities that have successfully integrated biophilic elements – from the building to the regional level – around the world. From urban ecological networks and connected systems of urban greenspace, to green rooftops, green walls and sidewalk gardens, Biophilic Cities reviews the emerging practice of biophilic urban design and planning and tells many compelling stories of individuals and groups working hard to transform cities from gray and lifeless to green and biodiverse.


“Because of his great vision, Tim Beatley is a hero to many of us. To paraphrase a famous quote, some people see cities as they are and ask why; Tim Beatley sees cities as they could be (filled with nature) and says why not?”

-Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder



E.O. Wilson

About the Book: The eminent biologist reflects on his own response to nature and the aesthetic aspects of his exploration of natural systems in an intensely personal essay that examines the essential links between mankind and the rest of the living world. (Harvard University Press, 1984)

Praise: “A fine memoir by one of America’s foremost evolutionary biologists. E. O. Wilson defines biophilia as ‘the innate tendency [in human beings] to focus on life and lifelike process. To an extent still undervalued in philosophy and religion, our existence depends on this propensity, our spirit is woven from it, hopes rise on its currents.’ Scientifically demonstrating this human propensity would be a task beyond the scope of today’s biology, and Wilson wisely eschews that course. Instead, he relies on his own experiences and feelings as a field biologist, cleverly interweaving them with the facts, history, and philosophy of evolutionary biology and an eclectic set of cultural observations.
–Paul R. Ehrlich (Natural History )


Biophilic Design: The Theory, Science and Practice of Bringing Buildings to Life

Stephen Kellert

About the Book: The groundbreaking guide to the emerging practice of biophilic design

This book offers a paradigm shift in how we design and build our buildings and our communities, one that recognizes that the positive experience of natural systems and processes in our buildings and constructed landscapes is critical to human health, performance, and well-being. Biophilic design is about humanity’s place in nature and the natural world’s place in human society, where mutuality, respect, and enriching relationships can and should exist at all levels and should emerge as the norm rather than the exception.

Written for architects, landscape architects, planners,developers, environmental designers, as well as building owners, Biophilic Design: The Theory, Science, and Practice of Bringing Buildings to Life is a guide to the theory, science, and practice of biophilic design. Twenty-three original and timely essays by world-renowned scientists, designers, and practitioners

Praise: “When nature inspires our architecture—not just how it looks but how buildings and communities actually function—we will have made great strides as a society. Biophilic Design provides us with tremendous insight into the ‘why,’ then builds us a road map for what is sure to be the next great design journey of our times.”
—Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO and Founding Chairman, U.S. Green Building Council


Stephen Kellert, Building for Life: Designing and Understanding the Human-Nature Connection, Washington, DC: Island Press, 2005.

Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, Algonquin Books: Chapel Hill, NC, 2005.

E.O. Wilson, The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth, W.W. Norton and Company, 2006

Children’s Books about Nature in Cities

  • The Urban Animal: An enlightening and in-depth look at wildlife in the towns and cities of the world by Barbara Taylor. Hauppauge, NY: Barron’s Educational Series, Inc., 2000.
  • Urban Roosts: Where Birds Nest in the City by Barbara Bash. San Francisco, CA: Sierra Club Books and Little, Brown & Co. of Boston, MA, 1990.
  • For these and other resources, see:

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