Do you have any idea how many apartment and flat communities have a nature-based name?
Do you know how many of these same communities pay attention to the landscape architecture at their gated community?
Little to none.
It never ceases to amaze us how villas, apartments and flats builders use a nature-based theme name for their eco-friendly projects like “The Falls at XYZ”, “Palm Tree Villas” or “Coconut Grove Apartments”. Yet never once consider integrating that theme into the landscape architecture at their community. Seems like a big disconnect there…
Is this because of the potential buyers’ preferences for nature-based names?
Or is it one of those situations of “that’s always how we’ve done it”?
Have you ever surrendered yourself to nature’s tranquility in search of relief or relaxation? How do you feel when hiking in the mountains or running along the seashore?
Do the great ocean, rapid creeks and lush forests put you in awe or at ease? Does spending a little time outside impact your mood?
Nature used to be all around us. Technically, it still is, however, the quality of the nature that surrounds us has changed. Currently, 54 percent of the world’s population lives in an urban environment. By 2050, that percentage is estimated to witness an increase to 66 percent, two-thirds of the world’s population!
Generally, we humans spend 93 percent of our time indoors separated from natural elements, an unhealthy byproduct of our current societal behavior. Since we continue to move toward the city and spend more time indoors, our day-to-day interaction with quality nature is shrinking.
How can we reverse this trend and improve the overall well-being of our communities?
The answer would be biophilic design, a strategic approach to tap into and harness nature in the built environment.
What is Biophilic design?
Most humans have an innate love for nature, we long for it and without connecting with it, our health could suffer.
The biophilic design is an applied solution that can be implemented at the community, building, or small-project level to appease this desire for nature by integrating natural elements and processes into the built environment.
If done right, a biophilic design should trigger a strong positive impact on our health and well-being.
Direct and Indirect Experiences of Nature
Direct experiences of nature refer to plants, light and water, any aspect that provides direct contact with green elements inside the apartments, flats and villas or outside the building. It can even include natural air movement!
Plants are beneficial because they are living, breathing organisms that enhance creativity, performance, and productivity, something we want to increase in our offices and homes.
Did you know, according to a study conducted in 1984, healthcare patients with views of green nature recovered faster than those viewing a brick wall.
Water and airflow play key roles in biophilic design as well. Incorporating an indoor river or adding natural airflow to a building help round out the natural ambiance.
Beyond the obvious, direct elements of a nature-focused design, there are also opportunities to provide indirect experiences of nature with the help of natural materials like wood and earth, or even images of nature.
Indirect experiences can still provide excellent solutions to spaces where plants are not desired or views of nature and access to a window aren’t feasible.
Sounds and smells also contribute to a multi-sensory, biophilic experience. Though most of the research focuses on the visual sense, natural sounds and smells also have a role to play in building design and operations.
Bringing Nature to You
OK, so now that we’ve covered just how important nature is to the built environment, let’s get to work! Here are five tips and tricks to help you easily bring in biophilic strategies to your home/work environment.
1. Open the blinds – Even though we may experience glare at certain points throughout the day, be sure to open your blinds up again once after the glare is gone.
2. Buy a plant (or two or three) – While you are taking a break, your eyes are more likely to wander over to your greenery, affording you a mini-restorative experience. (The good plants to use are peace lilies, snake plants, or orchids.)
3. Decorate with images of nature – Include awe-inspiring images of nature that evoke your curiosity.
4. Listen to natural sounds – The sounds of running water or air flows can be quite tranquil in the workplace. Keep in mind that these sounds may be distracting your neighbors, so use headphones!
5. Get outside – Experience the real deal! Most of us don’t have the luxury of going out as often as we want and spend the entire day at our desks. Going outside for even a 20-minute walk will help your performance throughout the day and may help you sleep better at night.
These are features Haritha Homes try to bring to our clients’ building environments. As our individual buildings form a larger community, we at Haritha Homes believe that by addressing these issues and thinking about how we can help our clients, we can maximize their day-to-day experiences with nature.