Nature and the Built Environment

posted in: News | 0

JUNE 2022 – Research phases are a pivotal component of any large scale undertaking. This has certainly proven true as an author and it holds up in the world of academia as well. Been doing A LOT of reading this month and learning the ins and outs of biophilic design, which is essentially the art of incorporating nature into the built environment. To make architecture that is (literally) more green through bringing nature into the project, whether through a living room, living wall, interior courtyard, or at the core level exploring how to emphasize the natural world around the building and allow for the building occupants to connect more closely with it, through the use of large windows for sunlight and views. Biophilic design is being done around the world with standout locations such as Singapore, where they have taken the idea of a ‘garden city’ and evolved it to be a ‘forest city’. Having a closer connection with nature contributes to the health and well-being of the population, supports biodiversity, and can even improve recovery from illness in hospitals.

How to incorporate green (living) elements into architecture, particularly while being budget conscious, is another matter altogether. As moving from the conceptual world to the real world requires a whole new host of challenges to contend with. Easy elements that I’ve already done in my everyday life would be to have house plants and try and live in apartments that have good natural light and close proximity to parks, wooded areas, and nature trails. But for my architectural design work I want to take it much further and design buildings around this idea of incorporating nature, not just plants, but design with the entire range of natural systems in mind. Those being? How sunlight, wind, and water impact the property and can be harnessed by the structure to achieve increased livability and conservation goals. I’ve been generating a list of factors to consider and account for in my latest residential design project. Now to put the conceptual into motion, to the drawing board!

A number of books have come across my desk in the last few weeks as noted, one standout was ‘Biophilic Cities: Integrating Nature into Urban Design and Planning’, very cool title by Timothy Beatley. He goes into great depth about the benefits to humans when they are in touch with nature and about past and present attempts at incorporating the living world into the all too frequently barren, urban world. There is so much potential for adopting practices of establishing greenbelts throughout existing cities, building living roofs to mitigate the heat island effect, establishing more parks for the community to enjoy, and the ideas go on and on. A very cool read for any urban planner as I personally hope to see more of these practices incorporated in the coming decades. Think of how prized water views are or how an urban oasis is almost always a garden. Maybe consider ways in which you could incorporate more living elements to your dwelling and see if it has a net positive impact on your life and sense of personal well-being.

Keep after it in all your pursuits and I’ll catch you all next time!

~ CS