The connection between architecture and interior flow

by Gillian Holl

A building should be more than just a beautiful shelter but a hyper functional space brimming with purpose. It should make the most of the location, leverage the best of the climate as well as the natural environment, and most of all it should bring those living or working within its walls joy. This may seem like a tall order, but modern architectural practices combined with a clear sense of interior flow can do this and so much more.

What is interior flow?

Interior flow, also referred to as the circulation of a building, is the natural movement of people and air between rooms. The placement of hallways, corridors, doors and windows are critical to establishing a flow that allows a home to “breathe” successfully.

Architects are at the helm of getting this right. By designing holistically with the interior, exterior and natural environment in mind, architects are able to create spaces that are cleverly thought-out to make the most of space, storage, natural light, climate, and of course interior flow. Furthermore, design principles such as feng shui can complement the free-flowing movement creating spaces where humans can live in harmony with their surroundings. 

This concept was explored as early as 1924, by Architect Gerrit Rietveld in his construction of the Schroder House. The client requested a house that is free from conventional association and that has a connection between inside and outside. He investigated the use of adaptable panels as walls that resulted in an interior that is dynamic and flexible, without compartmental rooms.

Trend alert: Inside-outside living spaces

Studies have shown that exposure to natural light and nature can positively affect the mood and energy levels of humans.  This has given rise to an inside-outside trend that is influencing the architectural, interior design and home decor industries dramatically. Clever architecture complemented by the right interior flow are able to erase the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces completely. From bringing the outdoors in and vice versa to interlinking these spaces together seamlessly. 

A courtyard is such a brilliant way to exploit the most of what this trend has to offer. A home of any scale can be complemented by the use of a courtyard, or even multiple courtyards. House with a view from our portfolio, as illustrated in the images below; creates exterior rooms that link internal spaces to each other through a landscaped spine.

Why interior flow matters

  • Energy

Interior flow balances and calms the energy of a room.

 

  • Functionality

Interior flow complements the functionality of a space, creating joy.

 

  • Space

Interior flow optimises the use of indoor and outdoor space, complementing each other.

The connection between architecture and interior flow is undeniably important. At Veld Architects we pride ourselves in our ability to think practically as well as creatively. We spend hours and hours planning and re-planning the “details” that would help us create a space that would tick all the boxes. 

That’s also why when it comes to the interior design aspect of a project, we are as involved as you want us to be.

Interested to find out more about our process?

Let’s chat.

gillian@veldarchitects.co.za

 

Love,

Gill

Building with Nature

by Gillian Holl

As spring comes round there is a newfound interest in nature, I have found. Nurseries are busier than usual with people looking for trees, plants and flowers to reconnect with nature after winter. People are yearning for more greenery in the home or at the office all year round, which just amplifies the fact that nature is part of our DNA. We need it to function optimally, just as it needs us to survive. 

Over the past few decades there has been a massive influx of people into urban areas because, naturally, this is where a lot of the jobs are. Technology, trends and other forms of entertainment also consume a lot more of our time, meaning less time to spend outside in nature.

In a perfect world, nature shouldn’t be something you should have to travel to in order to connect with. It should be right there on your doorstep at home. It should surround you on your way to the shops and also at the office. It might sound unrealistic, but others are getting it right.

 

Like this Contemporary Art Gallery in the city of Paris, designed by Jean Nouvel and built in 1984.

It is essential to reconnect people to nature through architecture, and here’s why:

 

Nature exposure is linked to improved health

Countless studies have been done and the facts speak for themselves: nature heals. Of course we all know this. We can feel an instant physical and emotional change during a hike in the woods or while dipping our bare feet in a cool stream. Nature makes us happier, more peaceful and allows us to think more clearly. Exposure to nature has been linked to a reduction in amongst many recovery time after surgery, ADHD symptoms in children, cardiovascular disease, stress, anger and fear.

Nature exposure links us to each other 

Studies done by the Human-Environment Research Lab and the University of Illinois showed that people with trees and green spaces around their buildings knew more people, had a stronger connection of unity with neighbours, and were more concerned to support and help each other. Further investigation measuring fMRI brain activity showed that the part of the brain associated with love and empathy lit up when people were shown scenes of nature. 

Nature exposure could encourage an ethical relationship with nature

Global warming is an incredibly important issue we all need to be aware of and take action against within our circles of influence. The hope is that through improved exposure to nature and reconnecting with it on a daily basis more ethical relationships with nature will be encouraged.

Am I suggesting we all move out of the city? Or move to a city closer to beaches or parks? What a lovely thought, but no. I’m suggesting that we rethink the way we design any new building and encourage innovative ways to bring nature to urban areas like for example through green roofs, and other sustainable initiatives. Because at the end of the day it will be a win-win.

Architects have a leading role to play in the built environment, but it all starts with you. Not all architects have sustainable, nature-inspired designs at the heart of their mission and vision. That’s why you should choose an architectural firm that will connect your building to nature, preserve the natural topography of the site and do so sustainably with tomorrow in mind.

At Veld Architects this is what we do best. 

Let’s chat.

Email me on gillian@veldarchitects.co.za

 

Love,

Gill

How a green roof can help reduce your carbon footprint

by Gillian Holl

Globally a new movement referred to as “flight-shaming” has taken shape. People around the world are coming together to ask the public (and especially business travellers) to opt for other modes of transportation (like rail). Flying contributes to over 2% of the  earth’s carbon emissions.

Alternative eco-friendly ways of travelling in and around South Africa isn’t as developed as it is in Europe or Britain for example. That’s why SA Travel Industry started an initiative to offset carbon instead: by planting spekboom. A single hectare of spekboom can rid four tonnes of carbon from the environment per year. The Spekboom project aims to educate people on how planting enough spekboom can eventually make flights into and from SA carbon-neutral.

The building and construction industry and its related fields contribute towards 23% of the world’s carbon emissions. It makes me wonder why a movement such as “building-shaming” isn’t making headlines too? Perhaps because all of us are guilty of this…

The good news is sustainable building innovations in this field can bring down emissions drastically.

Something that is trending on this front, especially in cities overseas, is the use of green roofs. In fact, in some cities this is mandated policy. While green roofs aren’t “new”, it is most definitely brilliant. Something that city dwellers, businesses, those with limited yard space and even homes with large green scapes around them should all consider equally.

Apart from cleaning the air and producing oxygen, vegetation on roofs also:

  • Cool down the environment: Green roofs offer shade and encourages evapotranspiration, which lowers temperatures by up to 3% in urban areas, fighting the urban heat island effect.
  • Reduce energy requirements: Cooler, more insulated roofs means a more sustained indoor temperature during summer.
  • Improve biodiversity: Green roofs attract birds and insect species to our cities, offices and homes. Biodiversity has a fundamental role to play in the food we eat and the water we drink.
  • Filter rainwater: Green roofs can filter pollutants and heavy metals rainwater.
  • Protect roofs: A vegetation carpet on your roof can also extend the life of your roof by protecting it from the elements.

Greener buildings and homes also have a massive positive effect on our emotional and physical well-being.

You can make a difference where you live and where you work, simply by researching ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Why not plant a spekboom?

 

At Veld Architecture, it is one of our core beliefs to design buildings that are more sustainable. From something as simple as building orientation to more complex strategies such as eco pools, green roofs and making use of recycled materials – we aim to make buildings more eco-friendly.

Sustainable building is the future of architecture, and our firm would love nothing more than to make your project reflect this.

 

Let’s chat! 

Email me on gillian@veldarchitects.co.za 

 

Love,

Gill

Finding the right architect for your project

by Gillian Holl

The internet and social media platforms like Pinterest and Instagram have opened landowners up to a world of architectural imagination. A building can be more than just practical. It can be smart, sustainable and stylish! (The 3 S’s that make us at Veld Architects tick by the way).

Does this make the design aspect of a building as simple as taking saved “Pins” to the most affordable architect to consolidate? No! Because the role of an architect is far more complex. Yes, architects are in charge of designing the look and feel (the skin) of a building, but it doesn’t stop there. Architects need to make sure the building integrates well with the available infrastructure and network of systems in order to function as optimally as possible. They have to gain all the relevant planning permissions, make frequent site visits, and adjust plans to accommodate changes or environmental/budgetary concerns. Architects are required to liaise with construction professionals on a frequent basis regarding the feasibility of their design and they also need to ensure that these plans are followed correctly. 

Yes, architects are in charge of designing the look and feel (the skin) of a building, but it doesn’t stop there. Architects need to make sure the building integrates well with the available infrastructure and network of systems in order to function as optimally as possible.

That’s why before choosing an architectural design studio, keep the following in mind:

Reputation

Your architects will play an integral role in the entire build, from conceptualisation through to the final stages. Throughout the process your architects will be responsible to liaise with other key role players such as the municipality, contractors etc. Make sure your architects have a great name in the industry and that they are professional and accountable. This will eliminate unnecessary bottle-necks down the line.

Style

Much like you would match a photographer or dress-designer to the style you are after for an important event, you should also do the same with your architects. The reason for this is to allow for creative freedom. If you want an architect to design a unique and inspired building that will provide a great return on your investment, you need to choose a team whose projects excite and inspire you. View various firms’ online project portfolios and find a team that show diversity in their designs.

If you want an architect to design a unique and inspired building that will provide a great return on your investment, you need to choose a team whose projects excite and inspire you.

Think beyond aesthetics

A building is more than just a gorgeous shell with dramatic pavement appeal. It can be hyper functional. It can complement the surrounding landscapes, make the most of natural light and be sustainable. Apart from finding architects that can design the style of home you are after, look for a firm that looks beyond design and stays at the cusp of architectural technology. Irrespective of whether you have a traditional taste, technology has the potential to make your build easier, more cost-effective and more eco-friendly. 

Personality

The building process is not something that happens overnight. It is a journey full of obstacles that your architects will guide you through with ease. So make sure you trust the architects you choose. You’ll be in contact often and you need to feel comfortable with them to take the lead and provide expertise on matters. It is wise to set up a meet and greet to see whether they will be able to convey your ideas on to paper.

The building process is not something that happens overnight. It is a journey full of obstacles that your architects will guide you through with ease. So make sure you trust the architects you choose.

At Veld Architects, Charné and I specialise in designing sustainable contemporary buildings using Virtual Reality and other forms of cutting-edge technology. Every project is personal to us and we invest incredible amounts of time and passion.

Let’s chat about your project, email us on:

gillian@veldarchitects.co.za

charne@veldarchitects.co.za

 

Love,

Gill

“Home” an Architectural Style

By Ayanda Made

The idea of the home has always been a deeply personal, intimate and emotional part of all our lives. It is soaked with feeling. It’s a place of refuge after a long day, a very own fortress of solitude during times of hardship and I find it very interesting that when we describe our homes or imagine our home it’s always attached to a feeling that’s tied to a certain space, not place. It’s the wrapped in a blanket next to the fireplace moment in the middle of July or the room filled with laughter around the dinner table moment with close family or friends and sometimes it’s a quiet moment spent alone. Home is an incredibly sensual place, it’s always been. If home was an object it be your favourite blanket as a child and there’s a terrible misconception today in both architects and homeowners to no fault of their own of what constitutes good design for a home. Maybe it’s because before the personal camera and before taking pictures of buildings became cool, homes could always only be experienced personally using all our senses, they had to like good food almost be savoured and drunk in, in order to be fully appreciated. With this in mind, the beauty of the design of a home back then could only be judged through a holistic personal experience.

Today however in the pursuit of status and great design being more accessible through print and digital media, architecture is far more commonly being consumed in bite-size portions which are almost purely a visual overindulgence of the physical and unfortunately, we’ve come to celebrate and replicate that aspect in isolation. The home something previously so intimate and personal has been reduced to a symbol, or worse a commodity used to portray a certain image when it’s never been purely about the physical. Not the walls, roof, tiles or the overall particular style that these elements make up. I believe great architects understand this, that it’s rather the careful orchestration of these elements, how you conduct them to create spaces for life to happen that constitutes great architecture.

…it’s rather the careful orchestration of these elements, how you conduct them to create spaces for life to happen that constitutes great architecture.

Good architects play the instrument, great architects play the orchestra. What I mean by this is that great architects don’t just fetishize on the one visual and physical elements that make up a building. Instead, they orchestrate both the physical and non- physical together beautifully to deliver the imaginative architecture that these elements can create. When this happens, architecture moves from being just the art of building to the art of placemaking and it’s an incredibly contextually driven process. It takes all aspects of context into consideration.

… design cannot precede context the same way a Stage Design never precedes the contents of the play. The one informs the other.

I recently watched a famous Broadway play, The Death of a Salesman by the even more famous playwright Arthur Miller, and I believe there’s a missed lesson I’ll briefly draw attention to between the understated importance of Stage Design in drawing out the intended impact of a play and the relationship it has with importance of context in creating great architecture. What’s beautiful about Stage Design are all the props, draping, sounds and colours that are never really the focus of the play. You never really notice a stage setting’s importance and impact until it’s not there, its presence is felt and its absence renders the play absolutely flat no matter how rich the content. What I later discovered was that Stage Design always follows the contents of the play, it repeatedly asks the questions “What emotion is this scene meant to evoke?” and “What setting best conveys these emotions to the audience?” It then proceeds to dress the stage in the appropriate setting to support each act. Architecture should be re-approached in the same respect, design cannot precede context the same way a Stage Design never precedes the contents of the play. The one informs the other.

If we run with this logic when discussing and unpacking architectural design, it’s easy to see that almost all celebrated architectural styles were born from critical responses to their context. It’s when we abandon this that we design inappropriate, forgettable architecture that lacks character, and more particularly homes that are devoid of meaning and substance both to the environment and the homeowner. It’s ironic because all the styles architects and homeowners have come to love and want replicated were born from contextually responsive approaches. The various existing styles can in a few years disappear into one universal type of architecture unless everyone begins to appreciate and take pride in the unique identity context gives Architecture.

Lastly, on a personal note although this applies to all architecture there’s a unique opportunity for South African Architects and homeowners to develop a uniquely South African Architecture by responding to our extremely rich and diverse natural environment if we give ourselves the opportunity to. If we envision a future for South African Architecture there must be a commitment to be responsible in our desires for a home. The beauty is that most architects are brilliant at both the ability to accurately respond to context whilst simultaneously interpreting the needs of a client in developing appropriate spaces, at a certain point it becomes almost second nature. So, in essence actually it’s less about can we do it but rather do we want to? Let’s start imagining what a heritage of South African Architecture and homes could look like if we did.