Curves, Shapes And Patterns: How Independent Schools Can Use Biophilic Design Elements To Enhance Learning Environments

Does your school offer an optical flow to enable cross fertilisation between the outside environment and learning within? Are your surroundings visually harmonious and inspirational for your students’ enjoyment and stimulation? Further to our previous article on using natural materials and colours to create a biophilic learning environment in your independent school, we now consider the use of curves, shapes, and patterns inspired by nature and how this can improve your students’ academic standards, outcomes and wellbeing.

Biophilic Design Elements

Learning spaces that restore harmony by introducing natural or landscaped features in independent schools, such as our recent redesign at Craig Y Parc, can have a therapeutic effect on your students with organic designs boosting wellbeing (Zhong, 2022)
Natural materials such as timber and cork – rather than those made by machines, for example mass produced plastic – and configurations such as fractals, – as opposed to traditionally rectilinear spaces – restore a sense of equanimity along with positive visual and tactile qualities. Students at Craig Y Parc are now able to feel a range of differing textures on walls during their school day and in various areas around their educational surroundings to enhance their active learning. 
Not only that, but by creating a superb optical flow with a combination of glazed and mirrored walls, we have introduced significant cross fertilization between the outside and inside. This is achieved by drawing natural light in and through the interior spaces and is beneficial for orientation, calming and flow.

Fractals in the Learning Environment

The outside world contains numerous natural markings such as fractals (Mandelbrot, 1975) that develop interest and keep the eye focused, however many schools have too many harsh, rectilinear spaces that confine and limit imagination. 

Organic fractals that involve movement such as clouds, mountains, coastlines and ferns inspire many biophilic designs, often featuring in a number of biophilic environments due to their relaxing effect (Hagerhall et al 2008). Fractals are – by their very design – complicated, yet with an innate continuous aesthetic that lends itself well to the layout of a school with good optical flow; for example, Envoplan’s ranges of curved seating and wall graphics give the impression of a never-ending pattern inspired by nature that increases students’ focus and engagement.

Direct and Indirect Biophilic Design Elements

Introducing features of interior design based on organic processes within independent schools aligns with research that biophilic elements work with humans’ innate inclination to feel affiliation with ecosystems rooted in nature (Kellert, 2008)

Simple yet effective botanical touches can include those such as introducing plants to the learning environment, which produce oxygen and purify the air, or eco designs within window or planter boxes, living or moss walls to aid acoustics as well as bringing texture with natural curving shapes, scent and colours.

Contact our expert Biophilic team at Envoplan for more information.
Design Trends 07


Zhong. W, (2022). Biophilic design in architecture and its contributions to health, well-being, and sustainability: A critical review.

Mandelbrot. B, (1975) The Fractal Geometry of Nature.

(Hagerhall. C, et al (2008). Human physiological benefits of viewing nature: EEG responses to exact and statistical fractal patterns.

(Kellert. S, 2008). Dimensions, elements and attributes of biophilic design.

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