First popularized by Edward O. Wilson in 1984, Biophilic design has grown to become one of modern architecture’s hottest trends. Focused on creating sustainable relationships between humans and natural elements, Biophilic design reaches beyond artificial man-made structures.

Architect Dwayne MacEwen, Principal of DMAC Architecture, best describes the emerging trend when comparing architecture to music:

“The space between the notes is where the magic is; otherwise, it’s just noise. We need that space between the notes in our everyday lives, and I think landscape elements create that.”

All around the world, architects are using Biophilic design to create, renovate and transform buildings into unique spaces and nurturing habitats. Asia in particular is stepping forward as a leader in Biophilic architecture, in a bid to address its congested cities, swelling population, global competitors, and large workforce. The below 5 biophilic buildings are some of the best examples of Biophilic design in Asia:

1. Pasona Group Offices, Japan

Designed by Kono Designs, this urban office in Tokyo, Japan has its own indoor farm. Completed in 2010, Pasona Group encourages its employees to cultivate and grow their own food. The agro-based philosophy uses both hydroponic and soil-based farming. When walking through the workspace, it is common to see personalized agricultural projects by employees. Some examples include bean sprouts growing under tables, passion fruit trees in conference rooms, and lemon trees in common areas.

2. Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, Singapore

Touted as the most Biophilic hospital in Asia, the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital in Singapore is a pioneer in healthcare infrastructure. The heart of this institution’s holistic environment is the green court. Imitating a lush forest, the green court includes water bodies with aquatic animals, brightly colored plants, as well as resident birds and butterflies. The blue and green spaces expand to the upper levels of the hospital as well as the basement. In fact, the total surface area dedicated to greenery is four times the actual land the hospital building sits on.

3. Panyaden School, Thailand

Drawing on its Buddhist founding principles, the Panyaden School in the Chiang Mai province of Thailand, is constructed entirely from earth and bamboo. The building is designed in the shape of a lotus, a flower which is regarded both as a symbol of Thailand and Buddhism. The most outstanding feature of this school is the sports hall. Covering an area of 782 square meters, the hall can accommodate up to 300 students, with bamboo staircases leading to viewing balconies for the spectators. It hosts sports like basketball, badminton and volleyball, as well as conducts events throughout the year. The bamboo trusses use natural ventilation and insulation to keep the sports hall consistently cool. In addition, they can withstand storms, high-speed winds, and earthquakes.

4. Keputih Boarding House, Indonesia

Located in Surabaya, the Keputih Boarding House was a finalist in the World Architecture Festival 2016 in Berlin, Germany. The boarding house is a world apart from the cramped conditions of its peers. While it is common to employ air-conditioning to escape Indonesia’s heat, the boarding house uses perforated panels for walls as well as spatial openings. The openings and panels allow natural lighting and air to circulate the main spaces, giving a sense that the house is “breathing”. Residents interact in the several communal places, the walls of which are decorated with stunning typographical prints. In addition, residents and visitors are provided with a parking space for their bicycles to stimulate both eco-consciousness and exercise.

5. An’garden Café, Vietnam

Located in Hanoi’s Hà Đông district on a former industrial site, the An’garden Café exudes vibrancy and oxygen throughout its three-story space. The eatery’s steel foundation and brick interiors incorporate a giant glass facade that floods the entire space with light. The timber roof is lined with planters with vines flowing out of them. Visitors can watch colorful koi fish swimming in a pond, or relax under the shady trees. The architectural firm Le House designed this cafe in the image of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. And it doesn’t fail to impress.