For many people, being surrounded by nature has a positive impact on mood, health and happiness. The pandemic exacerbated the need to be in or around the great outdoors after months of being unable to leave confined spaces. Biophilic design, as the movement is known, is a style that addresses that desire, connecting homeowners to lush surroundings through elements such as indoor plants, water fountains, terraces and natural light, as well as seamless indoor-outdoor access. This nature-focused architecture also takes into account views of the ocean, mountains, gardens or other natural landscapes.
The idea was conceived in the 1980s by Harvard ecologist and sociobiologist Edward O. Wilson, whose research confirmed man’s need for nature; since then, architects and designers have sought unique ways to bring stunning landscapes indoors, whether it’s a cozy condo in the city or a sprawling island manse. As many homeowners seek out new nature-centric primary, secondary or tertiary homes, biophilic design is more in demand than ever before. Here, take a look at 11 of the most whimsical and impressive homes that incorporate nature in both obvious and subtle ways—and have a positive impact on your overall well being to boot.
Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
The private island of Oil Nut Bay in the British Virgin Islands is only accessible by helicopter or boat, which makes your arrival to this slice of paradise even more majestic. The lush mountainous island features several ultra-luxurious homes, including Lion Heart, a 12.55-acre clifftop property listed for $39.5 million. On the expansive land, you’ll find two built and furnished homes, Halo and Rainbow. The homes rise organically from the steep verticals and feature living green rooftops covered in tropical flora and a waterfall. The abodes are seamlessly built in harmony with the island’s natural topography and include views of the ocean from every room. The curved design and use of native materials makes you feel closer to the essence of the Caribbean island.
Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Costa Rica is known for its lush jungles, verdant nature and eco-friendly living, and the resort community of Costa Elena in Guanacaste has exceptional opportunities to own a biophilic home among the treetops. The Sunset Villas—there are four total, ranging from four to five-bedroom homes priced from $2.35 million—are modern tropical villas made with sustainable materials. With views of the Pacific Ocean from nearly every room, you’re never too far from the outdoors. The villas have private infinity-edge pools and secluded balconies and terraces from every room, plus plenty of space for outdoor dining and lounging.
Los Angeles, California
Like living in a tree house, this $1.695 million bungalow in the city’s Silver Lake neighborhood is an artist’s retreat with a Big Sur edge. Surrounded by a canopy of greenery, the two-bedroom, two-bathroom home has an open floor plan with vaulted redwood-and-pine ceilings and cherry-wood doors. Behind the home, a garden stairway leads you to a serene deck surrounded by trees. This cozy, private hideaway offers indoor-outdoor living through large French doors and windows.
The residential development Kohanaiki is one of the Big Island’s most exclusive golf communities—and its real-estate offerings are seriously impressive. Kahakai 27 is a $24.5 million, seven-bedroom home from architect Shay Zak that blends Hawaiian style with modern design. With tall ceilings and nearly invisible sliding glass pocket doors—which open directly to the grassy backyard and pool—it’s almost as if you’re living outside. There are panoramic ocean views and views of the Kona coastline from the primary suites. The home also includes outdoor showers, an expansive lanai and native Hawaiian flora at every turn.
Costa Brava, Spain
First built in 1967, this seafront home in Costa Brava, Spain, is timeless. Listed for approximately $13.7 million, the 12-bedroom home features several incredible terraces that hang off the cliffside with turquoise ocean views beyond. The Bauhaus-style home is built into the rocks and features glass walls from the ground to the roof that span the length of the house. There is a grassy deck with a glass fence, floating walkways, private balconies and a stairway through the native flora that traverses down the cliff to the beach. It’s both an architectural marvel and a nature lover’s dream.
Located in the coveted Ocean Club Estates in the Bahamas, La Ceiba is an oasis surrounded by nature. Listed for a cool $37.5 million, the sprawling property has waterfalls, many pools, 300 feet of beachfront and impressive landscaping that makes it feels like your own private resort. The tropical, hotel-style infinity pool weaves around a side of the home and is shaded with towering palms that sway with the Caribbean breeze. There are also several covered terraces, balconies and patios from which to enjoy the endless ocean views. Amenities include a manicured Bocce court, a beach dune hot tub and outdoor recreation spaces for those who love to entertain.
You don’t have to live in the middle of a forest or jungle to bring the outdoors in; sometimes you have to create it yourself. This charming condo in Paris’s Montmartre neighborhood, on the market for just over $4 million, features an inner green courtyard garden that’s visible from most rooms in the duplex home. The three-bedroom residence, with an elegant yet modern Parisian design, has many doors that open into the lush courtyard for indoor-outdoor living during the warmer months. The lush trees and plants bring some nature into this city dwelling.
This newly constructed villa—called Pandora—is located in the heart of Vouliagmeni, a suburb of the Athens Riviera in Greece. Mimicking organic curves found in nature, the stark-white building combines ultra-contemporary design with nature at every turn. The curvatures, which were inspired by soaring wings, provide a tranquil atmosphere and enhance privacy for the 5,381-square-foot villa. The three-level home, listed for just under $7 million, also features many plants and trees that let the outdoors in. There’s also natural exposed rock in the living room and on outdoor decks, which support the structure, and open-air spaces.
Living in this Scottsdale, Arizona, home is like living within a sculpture. It’s not your typical home: The angular $6.3 million manse looks unassuming at first and blends into the natural desert landscape, but it comes to life as you step inside. Both an architectural marvel and functional abode, the residence the heart of this residence is the great room, which opens through four pivoting glass walls to the outdoors. Nature elements include an inner courtyard, patio with a kitchen, a fire pit with sunken bench seating and Sonoran Desert plants around the home. There are also panoramic views of the golf course and desert. It’s a true work of art.
Secret Bay has championed biophilic and sustainable design through its resort on the Caribbean island of Dominica, and the development recently announced the Residences at Secret Bay. Now, you can vacation full-time with a residential property on the lush island. Starting at $1.5 million, the architectural tree house-style residences will range from 1,236 square feet to 5,182 square feet with amenities such as pools, outdoor patios, state-of-the-art technology and access to a wealth of resort amenities. The location of the villas—on the jagged cliff sides overlooking the impossibly blue Caribbean Sea—is the perfect place to reconnect with nature.
Costa Smeralda, Italy
There are many facets to this incredible countryside property, designed by world-famous architect Savin Couelle and renovated by architect Patrick Lesuisse. Called Villa Marem, the rustic home is built into the natural contours of the hillside landscape, making it feel as though you’re traversing through the forest as you maneuver the rocky, tree-lined steps to get to various parts of the property. There is a lovely pool and spacious deck that feels extra secluded surrounded by dense trees. One of the more recent features is a breezy pergola constructed from chestnut and bamboo wood, perfect for enjoying warm Italian afternoons. There’s also many natural features like a garden and real waterfall with a pond, as well as views over Pervero Bay.