The Nature of Design

Synopsis + the Health Problem Your Project is Attempting to Address, and Why it Matters

Can good design change your health? 

So many people emerged from the pandemic looking for new ways to live and work, and becoming more aware of how our surroundings affect our overall happiness. Around the world, designers are rethinking our built spaces and bringing the outside in, in remarkable ways. 

The Nature of Design sets out on a journey to discover some of the most spectacular designs in the world and proves how incorporating nature into great designs can impact our mental and physical well being in profound ways.

The ​Nature of Design is a 8 x 11:00 min digital docuseries exploring the fascinating world of biophilic designs- in other words, designs that connect people and architecture with nature and the wilderness. ​This series uncovers the world’s greatest sustainable designs in our schools, cities, workplaces, hospitals and homes. ​​


Green roofs and plant walls are one thing, but what about waterfalls in airports? Or vertical forests in downtown high rises? Or even 3D printed homes made out of mud?  Radical eco designs may seem futuristic, but examples now exist everywhere and we’re going to explore the best of them and then demonstrate how they can literally change how we feel.


We dive into this world through the narration of an optimistic, Greta Thunburg style, Gen Z host – Louisa Whitmore – someone well known in the design world, whose fresh perspective makes the subject matter much more accessible and compelling. 

Using a stylized treatment, energetic music and creative animation, The Nature of Design is a co-viewing experience that sets out to explore and reveal the incredible healing powers of nature. 

The main features of the web series include:

  • A youthful subject from whom we can enter this world and learn as she learns. Louisa is not an expert. As she travels and meets people she learns and sees more about this fascinating subject. We learn as she learns. This is much more ‘show’ and much less ‘tell’
  • A repeatable format – 
  • Intro- upbeat thematic music, graphics and montage with voice over
  • ACT 1: Where – we arrive at a destination and provide some context by exploring the city. Talk about the history and cultural impacts of design in this city. 
  • ACT 2: What – we pick a location and with the help of an expert, do a deep dive on a design and learn what makes it special in the world of biophilic design
  • ACT 3: Why and How – another expert (doctor/ scientist etc) explains why this design works and how it impacts our moods/ health etc. We use animation to illustrate key concepts.
  • Extro- wrap up of key facts and summary. 
  • Optimistic tone: we discuss what people are doing right, not what is going wrong with the world. Whenever we talk to potential experts about this series, it is THIS framing that always gets them excited. In a world where there is a lot to complain about when it comes to the environment, telling hopeful stories about nature alleviates the overwhelming existential dread that many people feel right now. 

Creatively located interviews. The world does not need another head and shoulders interview based documentary on architecture. We place our experts in unique settings, like the forest, or a rooftop. We want Louisa to do experiments and try things, rather than just talk.

Summary of Health Problem:

According to Journalist Richard Louv’s 2005 seminal book on the alienation of children from nature, “Last Child in The Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder” human beings have a physical need for regular contact with nature and will suffer significant emotional and physical symptoms if removed from nature for long periods of time. Louv’s work lead to an explosion of studies that examine the multiple positive impacts of human interaction with nature. (1) According to Louv, “Now it’s approaching and about to pass 1,000 studies, and they point in one direction: Nature is not only nice to have, but it’s a have-to-have for physical health and cognitive functioning.” (2)

Having evolved in and with nature for tens of thousands of years, humans have an innate desire and need to be in nature. This is called the biophilia hypothesis. Basically, the aspects of nature that have contributed to our survival, such as diverse vegetation and the presence of running water, are hard wired into our brains as desirable. A 2019 study of 20,000 people led by led by Mathew White of the European Centre for Environment & Human Health at the University of Exeter found that spending as little as two hours of time safely in green spaces per week has a tremendous positive impact on us.

Two men brainstorming at a table with coffee

Why it Matters:

A mere two hours per week exposed to natural surroundings can help to:

Lower stress hormone levels,

  • Reduce nervous arousal,
  • Lower blood pressure,
  • Boost immune system function,
  • Increase self-esteem,
  • Reduce anxiety,
  • Improve moods,
  • Reduce Attention Deficit Disorder,
  • Reduce aggression and,
  • Speed up healing.

To paraphrase our expert organization’s founder, Steven Peck: two hours of nature a week helps to keep the doctor away. (3)  While most people understand that being surrounded by your ‘natural habitat’ is pleasant, few people truly understand the physiological reasons why or how significant it is to the health and well being of every Canadian. 

We feel that viewing and engaging with our project will raise awareness of the ‘nature deficit’ and change the way people think about and interact with their surroundings. Framing this topic as an issue that affects every Canadian will help change the narrative that concern for the natural environment is an abstract concept that the average person has no control over. 

(1) (

(2) (  White’s study of 20,000 people was published in 2019. See  See also for online lectures on biophilic design



What do you think?

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