by Gillian Holl
Too often, the natural landscape of a new building is only considered in hindsight. In doing this the powerful connection that exists between a building, the landscape and the occupants is lost. This is why more architects are looking at these three factors together and designing buildings that are in harmony with the environment. Through a cross-disciplinary design approach the indoors and outdoors are integrated more seamlessly, creating buildings that are less “striking” at first glance, yet more compelling for decades to come.
Matt Anderson, Director of Communications at Olson Kundig Architects describes this movement towards more subtle landscape-inspired architecture so beautifully: “Ultimately, truly timeless architecture is inseparable from place; its authenticity derives from its context, allowing it to remain relevant.”
Humans & Nature
In this day and age, humans spend up to 90% of their time indoors. Yet, studies have indicated that humans show signs of improved wellbeing and vitality when surrounded by nature or simply just looking at it. We need nature. This traces back to the Biophilia Hypothesis, which suggests that humans have an innate desire to affiliate with the fauna and flora of the planet.
While the interdisciplinary practice of blending indoor and outdoor design principles are certainly not new, this design approach has become more popular in recent years. It is used in large corporate buildings like the Shanghai Baoye Centre, or in smaller dwellings like this home in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. It is also a practice Veld Architects take to heart with every building we design.
Could it be that humans are ready to reconnect and experience the benefits of nature from their built environments? We truly hope so. Because the more connected humans are to nature, the more motivated they will become to protect it too.
How to blend indoor and outdoor landscapes
1. Build buildings that disappear into the natural landscape
The natural landscape of a building site is unique; moulded and transformed by time. It is a thing of beauty because nature knows best. Too often a building, aesthetically beautiful as it may be, obscures this picture. By mimicking the same contours and structures of the landscape, architects are able to create a building that truly becomes part of the environment.
2. Build buildings that open up to the outdoors
South Africa’s weather conditions are of the best in the world. Here, opening up to the landscape is more than just a design tactic to create unity between the inside and outside, it is must! Fold-away doors, and large windows and doorways help make this connection possible. Using a window to frame a focal point outside such a spectacular view or water feature is a must. An abundance of natural light and courtyards help blur the lines as well.
3. Use materials that blend interior and exterior palettes
Yes to bringing wood, clay, grass, stone and other natural materials into the home. Yes to continuing the choice of living room floors onto the patio, and absolutely yes to choosing natural earthy tones when adding colour to the home. But this concept also encompasses more than these. It is also about using exterior materials such as copper and concrete in interiors and making it work beautifully. It is about aiming for sustainability when choosing materials, and creating an unmistakable architectural language throughout.
4. Build with proper ventilation and air circulation
A proper naturally ventilated building that invites fresh air in and exhales the rest out is possible. The correct placement of doorways and windows, and the appropriate height of ceilings allow for natural air forces of wind and buoyancy.
At Veld Architects, we believe it is important to consult and collaborate with landscape designers and engineers before we design. Together we are able to create buildings that not only blend perfectly with the natural landscape but also contribute to the healing of the environment (Regenerative Architecture).
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