A methodology for enabling biochemical sensing applications using porous polymer photonic bandgap structures is presented. Specifically, we demonstrate an approach to encapsulation of chemical and biological recognition elements within the pores of these structures. This sensing platform is built on our recently demonstrated nanofabrication technique using holographic interferometry of a photo-activated mixture that includes a volatile solvent as well as monomers, photoinitiators, and co-initiators. Evaporation of the solvent after polymerization yields nanoporous polymeric 1D photonic bandgap structures that can be directly integrated into optical sensor systems that we have previously developed. More importantly, these composite structures are simple to fabricate, chromatically tunable, highly versatile, and can be employed as a general template for the encapsulation of biochemical recognition elements. As a specific example of a prototype device, we demonstrate an oxygen (O2) sensor by encapsulating the fluorophore (tris(4,7-diphenyl-1,10-phenathroline)ruthenium(II) within these nanostructured materials. Finally, we report initial results of extending this technique to the development of a hydrophilic porous polymer photonic bandgap structure for sensing in aqueous environments. The ability to control the hydrophilic/hydrophobic nature of these materials has direct impact on chemical and biological sensing.