- By Zachary Brodie
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- PBC News
Being a part of Premier Building & Construction over the last 3 years, and more specifically its design team, to me I can say I’ve been offered everything I’ve ever wanted when landing a first job in this industry. And, whilst my opinion may not just be influenced solely on the company itself, or the people I work with (although I’d like to see you argue otherwise), It's about the experience, versatility and types of exposure to the industry and profession being Architectural design I feel I’ve been offered. I can honestly say that since I joined the PBC team I have seen my position provide me just that. I am fortunate enough in having an exceptional Architectural Designer (soon to be a fully registered Architect) as my mentor. With that comes a whole library of experiences, knowledge, skills, insights, and practicality that can only be achieved by experiencing these first hand, evolving with the ever-growing industry.
With a little insight into my job and background into where this interest piece stems from. I Hope you find this topic as interesting and “Cool” as I do.
Recently, I had tuned into a Design Webinar over zoom about “Biophilic Design”. To provide a quick definition that I’ll elaborate on later, it's “the practice of increasing connectivity to the natural environment through the use of direct nature, indirect nature, and space and place conditions through design.”
From my understanding of what I have taken away from the webinar is that everyone has an innate love for nature. That feeling you get when you're kicking back in the sand at the beach (touch), the smell of fresh salt in the air (smell), and the sound of the waves breaking (sound). The only requirements to experiencing all this I can see is, simply nothing but yourself and your surroundings. You are able to surrender yourself to nature and turn off and grasp onto that longing relief of relaxation.
This is what Biophilic Design, or the intent of what I believe it is trying to achieve in the built environment. To harness all those euphoric and endorphin enhancing benefits you experience all year round, whilst you're working and spending majority of your days inside.
Now, in the built environment “direct nature’ can present itself in ways such as having plants in your office, natural light coming from direct views of outside, to water, may it be the visual feature of it. Ventilation or natural air movement is also a requirement for internal working spaces that also ticks all the boxes when bringing “direct nature” properties inside.
Whilst the above “direct” practices are common and thought of in design, we also see the utilisation of “indirect” elements of nature. Have you ever seen a built structure with captivating timber features, or the raw loved look of rammed earth walls? That is an example of “indirect” nature – the use of natural materials. Another example of this is something that I can guarantee everyone already knows and might not realize. The use of pictures of your favourite landscape or scenery hanging on the wall of your place of work. Connecting with the ambience of nature through past experience just by glancing at a still image.
A stem practice that goes hand in hand with Biophilic Design is “Biomimicry”. The “design and creation of materials, structures, and systems that are modelled on biological entities and processes.” What I believe this is in terms of Architectural Design is to not only implement Biophilic practices, but to further design spaces and structures that take on natural characteristics. An example of this is during the conceptual phase of drawing. We take what we see as shapes and qualities of surroundings and mold it into a built product. Whether it be the elongated look of tree branches, to a round curved and imperfect surface of a rock, to even the uncontrolled and unpredictable pattern of running water.
For me, the contents of this webinar were to reinforce just how much our mental, physical and quality of life is dependent on the very elements of our natural world that we have abused and in short damaged.
And so, with the building industry continuing to move ever more towards sustainable practices, either through innovative uses of materials, to utilizing what the environment already provides - wind, solar, water etc. That although we are starting to be more conscious aware of the impact of our built environment on our surroundings. I believe that Biophilic and Biomimicry Design has untapped potential that will continue to unfold in the industry, the more we get onboard and make it our new industry standard.
To not only speak of it but to currently be practicing it. I'm proud to say that as a part of the design team here at PBC we are on board, and have used Biomimicry in a D&C job. Check out Saint Paul's College The HUB on our website and pay attention to the structural columns and their shape and colour. They look kind of like trees don’t you think?