Urban gardens as a space to engender biophilia: evidence and ways forward

Brenda B. Lin*, Monika H. Egerer, Alessandro Ossola

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    48 Citations (Scopus)
    139 Downloads (Pure)


    Cities are losing green space driving an extinction of nature experiences for urban communities. Incremental green space loss can trigger a ratcheting-down effect where individuals' expectations of nature continually decrease through time. This loss of everyday nature experiences may produce a citizenry with reduced knowledge and appreciation of biodiversity and the environment. In this review, we examine how urban gardens, as urban spaces that bring people into close contact with nature in an otherwise built environment, can combat this ratcheting-down effect by encouraging interactions and knowledge of nature. We review three ways urban gardens may engender greater biophilia: (1) the provision of natural elements to expose urban dwellers to the diversity of plants, animals, and soils that they would otherwise not encounter in their daily life; (2) fostering a greater understanding of natural processes that affect food production (e.g., climate processes, pest control, pollination) and thus the natural world; and (3) the provision of a safe space in which humans can corporeally interact with nature elements to develop greater fascination with nature. Thus, urban gardens can engender biophilia for their participants by increasing exposure, positive interactions, and knowledge of nature, potentially changing people's attitudes to nature. We present examples from a variety of urban gardens to show how these spaces can be designed using biophilic thinking to enhance people's everyday nature experiences and their drive to interact with the natural world.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number79
    Pages (from-to)1-10
    Number of pages10
    JournalFrontiers in Built Environment
    Publication statusPublished - 17 Dec 2018

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2018. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • nature relatedness
    • nature exposure
    • urban green space
    • environmental attitudes
    • urban lifestyle


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