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Supervisor: Professor Koen Steemers


Research overview:

It is anticipated that within a few decades more than two thirds of the world’s population will live in urban areas. However, psychopathology studies have shown that depression, anxiety disorders, and psychosis are more prevalent in cities. Hence, a healthy urban environment is imperative. As a multi-platform strategy, biophilic design can be a cost-effective vehicle for simultaneously contributing to human wellbeing and environmental sustainability. The integration of natural elements into built environments is known to have a significant positive impact on human emotion and cognition; however, their influence on social behaviour has received comparatively little attention. Furthermore, biophilic design entails more than simply filling spaces with many plants. The characteristics of biophilic design have also yet to be systematised and identified. Hence, this study focuses on two key indicators/proxies of mental well-being, i.e. positive emotions and social behaviour, and how they are affected by design choices with respect to nature. Since people spend most of their time indoors, an indoor-plant scenario has been chosen. As urban density continues to grow it is believed that biophilic design will be of ever-increasing importance in promoting mental health and general well-being.



Bing-Tao is a PhD candidate in Architecture and a Cambridge Trust Scholar. He is an environmental and architectural psychologist, interested in the relationship between environmental design and mental wellbeing. Bing-Tao’s interdisciplinary research particularly focuses on biophilic design and the impact of nature in architecture. He also has a master’s degree in psychological and behavioural science with distinction at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and he supervises undergraduate students in the architecture department at the University of Cambridge.