Biophilic design gets the green light in multi-family
Biophilia has quickly become a buzzword in the multi-family industry as homeowners and developers increasingly blur the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces. But biophilia, a term coined by Harvard naturalist Dr. Edward O., is more than the incorporation of a green wall, open floor plans and courtyards.
“If you put these elements in and they seem obvious, then you’re probably late in the game,” said Josh Kassing, vice president of design development at Mary Cook Associates.
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At its core, biophilia incorporates natural elements into day-to-day conception, so the process of including this in multi-family development should be forward thinking and start early in the conception process. The good news is that biophilic design resonates with everyone – and since there’s no one way to do it, these elements can be incorporated into any design plan.
Whether you’re using a third-party designer or acting as an architect for your own projects, it’s important to have a vision for your community and what elements you want to use. This includes materials, structures, floor plans, and furniture or versatile items.
Optima Inc. has incorporated biophilic design into its communities for over four decades, beginning with the use of green roofs, yards and gardens in the 1980s. It eventually launched its own vertical landscaping system there. is 15 years old at Optima Camelview Village, a property located in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“This system helps enhance the natural beauty of our projects by allowing a palette of brightly colored plants to grow on the edge of every private patio on every floor of the building,” said David Hovey Jr., president and CEO of the building. ‘exploitation.
The initiation of any project should also include all members of development, including design and construction. In this way, the choices can be transferred from one group to another without interruption. Lessons learned from previous projects can be used to improve the next one.
During the design process, it is important to ask a few key questions in order to determine the direction you want to take with your natural elements. Who are you designing for? Where do they live? What does this mean for the way they want to live? Then you can create an aesthetic that answers these questions.
Kassing used Riverworks in Phoenixville, Pa., As an example of incorporating the surrounding neighborhood into the design. The property is located near an exposed bridge that workers would use to cross the river. This river now connects to downtown, so the design team came up with a steel-inspired concept for the community.
“Downtown became a convenience for this community and all it needed was this bridge,” Kassing said. “A connection to this bridge inspired the aesthetic and anchored and guided all of the decisions we made.”
Feeling of calm
The biophilic design can be both obvious and subtle within your communities, but it all comes down to integrating the five basic senses. Most designs start with the view, as it’s the most noticeable to residents, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will have the most impact. When deciding which of these elements to use in a project, it is important to take inspiration from the location and tie it to the design itself.
A good place to start is the visual or physical connection, said Linda Kozloski, Creative Design Director at Lendlease.
At Cirrus and Cascade, an adjoining condominium tower and apartment building in Chicago’s Lakeshore East neighborhood, the properties share a large amenity space set in a veranda that sits among many natural materials such as hardwood floors. end grain and a variety of plants, while overlooking the nearby Cascade Park.
“You get that outer connection where you have a chance to sit in the middle of nature, in a garden that mirrors the one you’re looking at,” Kozloski said.
Incorporating outdoor elements such as the view of a park, lake, or garden is a great start to making your residents feel like the outdoors when they are in a common community space.
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Another main element that could be overlooked is noise. The inclusion of a water feature not only offers a visual aid, but also places residents in a calming environment. Other alternatives include machines in the lobby or community spaces that can feature sounds such as wind, birdsong, or a rainforest. This gives residents the feeling of being outside when they enter the property, giving them a feeling of calm and relaxation.
“With COVID-19, when people are locked in and unable to get out of their homes, it’s good to be able to have a place in your building where you can escape without escaping,” said K. Tyler, director and chief. interior design at Morgante Wilson Architects.
Using the senses gives residents a chance to fully immerse themselves in connection with nature within the community. Other items to consider would be the textured wallpaper, hanging plants and chandeliers, use of local art from the neighborhood, and flexible furnishings.
Tyler highlighted the company’s work on Westerly, a new development from Fifield Cos. In the River West district of Chicago.
“Westerly’s theme was flora and fauna, with a quirky, fun and interesting character,” she noted. “Many patterns and materials have been used in the lobby, which also includes an anthropomorphic chair. We wanted it to look like something that could stand up and move away.
Expand your reach
Even if you are new to the concept of biophilic design, the most important thing to remember is to incorporate these features early in the project. You don’t have to be an expert to include natural elements. Making sure to budget these items so that they don’t get deleted later in the pricing process is a critical step. Kozloski also recommends doing your homework.
“Follow what current research has uncovered and how to make things better for the future, keep innovating and creating a better place through this innovation,” she said.
Nothing is too small when it comes to biophilia, as long as it puts your residents more in touch with the elements of nature. Whether it’s taking inspiration from the neighborhood, the evolution of animals or trees, or ensuring that design elements are placed proportionately. Or it could be from materials used such as natural, low VOC woods, functional walls and glass or light elements that mimic sunlight. All of this is biophilia and will create a more sustainable and relaxing environment for your residents.