Biophilic design of building façades from an evolutionary psychology framework

Visual Attention Software compared to Perceived Restorativeness

  • Rita Berto
  • Giuseppe Barbiero
  • Nikos A. Salingaros
Keywords: Biophilic Design, building façades, Perceived Restorativeness Scale, Visual Attention Software


Built environments that integrate representations of the natural world into façades and interiors benefit occupant psycho-physiological well-being and behavior. However, the biophilic quality of buildings does not de-pend exclusively on “green”, but also upon “organized complexity” in their structure. In this exploratory study we compare quantitative (Visual Atten-tion Software) and qualitative approaches (self-rating scales) in the perception of biophilic design of building façades. Eight façades varying in their degree of biophilic design (High, Medium, Low, No biophilic qualities) were assessed on the Perceived Restorativeness Scale-11, on preference, and on a series of physical aesthetic attributes. The eight façades were scanned with Visual At-tention Software (VAS). These measures show many overlapping points. VAS can be considered a way to operationalize the engagement of attention in the first 3-5 seconds of gaze in exploring building design, and self-ratings assess-ments a measure of to what extent the building is perceived as restorative. Higher perceived restorativeness and preference match a higher degree of bi-ophilic design, which corresponds to a building where vegetation is integrated in an organic structure. Vegetation is not the only biophilic characteristic to be considered in biophilic design and this emerges clearly from self-ratings and VAS. Exploring organized complexity is fundamental for understanding human responses to architecture.

Original Papers