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NATURE DESIGN AND US | Biophilic Design Day (Melbourne Design Week in Geelong)

  • The School of Lost Arts 221 Noble St Geelong Australia (map)
Front of House Artwork MDW detail (2).jpg

Nature Design and Us

A Laboratory of Ideas on Biophilia and Design

Melbourne Design Week in Geelong is an initiative of the Victorian Government. Geelong is a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network following its designation as a City of Design in 2017.


We share this planet with an estimated 8.7 million other species and throughout our evolution up to the most recent time, our deep connection with the natural world has sustained us in every way.

The latest research shows that our brains respond to nature in an unconscious yet vitally important way for the physical, emotional and mental wellbeing of both adults and children, yet this connection with nature, biophilia, is often not understood and ignored in the design of our homes, offices and cities. As more people live in urban environments, including this vital connection as part of the design process is becoming more urgent. Nature and an urban way of life can coexist. It forms the basis for our approach to a sustainable future and frames our attitude to the biggest issue of our time, climate change.

Geelong is growing rapidly and the local environment is under unprecedented challenge. The city is at a pivotal time in its history and faces choices as to how it proceeds. Creating a dialogue around the importance of biophilia in our urban design is needed now more than ever with Geelong having the opportunity to show the way and become one of the great green cities of the world.



Nature Design and Us will be a one-day examination of the importance of recognizing our innate and fundamental need to be in nature and how we can design our homes and cities to include more of it and be better places in which to live. This will be a unique, immersive day of talks, workshops, installations and discussion to open your minds to the design possibilities of connecting to nature.

Using the unique location of a restored 1850s house with one-acre urban farm, the importance of biophilia will be explored though direct sensory experience, design experimentation, indoor and outdoor installations, talks and panel discussions. The historic perspective of our changing urban garden landscape and the way it impacts our lives will be put into context.

The day will begin with a meditative immersion in nature, recalibrating our mindset to the natural world.

Themes to be explored are:

  • Our vital need for nature for our health and mental and physical wellbeing.

  • How biophilia, that innate connection we all have to nature can be enhanced through the design of our built environment.

  • The role of gardens in the urban context today and how our view of them has changed over the last 100 years, what the humble Victorian workers cottage can teach us about modern medium density living

  • Biophilia and sustainability

  • The link between biophilia and creative thinking

  • Nature as inspiration and the concept of biomimicry

  • Two art installations that will invite a new understanding of nature in our lives

  • A hands-on biophilia design exploration workshop

  • A film installation showing the most inspiring work in the field today.

$10 ticket includes:

  • Introductory talks, biophilic space and biophilic environs workshops

  • Discussions

  • Interaction with whole site experience and art installations by Dr Cameron Bishop and Dr Rea Dennis

  • Light lunch and closing drinks

Additional cost for:

  • Connection to Country and Culture Biophilia Workshop with Lee Darroch ($8 materials fee)

  • Biophilic Design in Practice with Nicola Cerini ($15 materials fee)

View all Contributors

Outline for the Day

9.00 Arrive

Tea and Coffee Available

9.00 - 11.00 Introduction

Acknowledgement of Country | Lee Darroch
Introduction to Biophilia | Mary-Jane Walker, Lee Darroch, Phillip Roӧs and Stephen Read
The nature of biophilia; connection to country and culture; biophilic design - creating healthy living environments; biophilic environment - nature of the space.

11.00 - 11.15 Break

11.15 - 12.30 Session 1 - Choose 1 workshop

  • Biophilic Space Workshop | Phillip Roӧs
    This hands-on Biophilic Design Workshop will take participants through the basic principles of biophilia and how to create healthy living spaces. Walking around the house and garden, Dr Phillip Roӧs will guide the participants to identify the 15 Patterns of Biophilic Design located (or missing) within the surrounding spaces. Opportunities to include and enhance the environment will also be identified and discussed. The workshop concludes with discussions and a Q&A session on how these patterns can be applied at participants' own homes.

  • Biophilic Environs Workshop | Stephen Read
    Gardens are created from the space between buildings. Why do some spaces generate feelings of calm, joy and safety, whilst others create anxiety, depression and unease? Join Stephen Read for an illustrated and interactive talk on the nature of space, and how it makes us feel. Using Victorian-era cottages as a case study, discover what these narrow cottages can teach us about creating nurturing spaces and increasing the wellbeing and the liveability of our modern homes. The talk also includes a mindfulness exercise where we will be touching on the importance of responding to Sense of Place when building meaningful connections with our communities.

  • Biophilic Design in Practice | Nicola Cerini ($15 materials fee)
    Join Nicola Cerini in reintroducing the rhythms of nature into an urban environment. Create a nature-inspired design and apply it to a pre-cut hexagonal plywood panel. This honey-comb segment could be the starting point of a larger biophilic artwork/interior or the end point of an enriching making experience stimulating ideas and inspiration, promoting a sense of connectedness and well-being.

  • Connection to Country and Culture Biophilia Workshop | Lee Darroch ($8 materials fee)
    Create a possum or kangaroo skin armband using ochre paint and a wood burner.

12.30 - 1.30 Light lunch provided and free roaming of the site experience

(Vegetarian, nut-free with gluten-free options)

1.30 - 2.30 Session 2 - Choose 1 workshop

  • Biophilic Space Workshop | Phillip Roӧs
    As above

  • Biophilic Environs Workshop | Stephen Read
    As above

  • Biophilic Design in Practice | Nicola Cerini ($15 materials fee)
    As above

  • Connection to Country and Culture Biophilia Workshop | Lee Darroch ($8 materials fee)
    As above

2.30 - 3.00 Free Time to Engage with Site

3.00 - 4.00 Panel Discussion and Questions (All Participants)

Biophilic design - the opportunity for us and Geelong

4.00 Closing Drinks and Free Discussion