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Intern Research: Biophilic Design

Written By: Alexandar Juliano, Architectural Intern

June 20, 2022
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How can we best design in tandem with the natural world to further our local built environment? Here in Fort Wayne, there are several ways we can apply biophilia to both old and new buildings to connect in a new way with the world around us.

In architecture and design, biophilia is a connection to the living, natural world on the interior or exterior of a structure. It’s a way to create naturally balanced and beneficial environments. By increasing and embracing the presence of the natural world in our daily lives, we clean the air we breathe, insulate buildings from the sun and rain, and improve our mental and physical health. Lower blood pressure, a heightened perception of safety, and greater motivation & morale are all benefits linked to biophilic design. There are 14 patterns of biophilic design, divided into three categories – nature in the space, natural analogs, and the nature of the space. When thinking about bringing biophilic design to Indiana and Fort Wayne specifically, it is exciting to apply the logic of the 14 patterns by looking at examples already in our community and looking beyond to gain inspiration for application in future projects. Key installations appropriate for Indiana include substrate planters, vertical bucket planters, moss walls, and ivy trellis walls.

Substrate Planters

Incorporating a green wall through the use of substrate planters allows for the growth of larger plants and annuals. This low-maintenance biophilic planter can be watered through a drip tube or plants can be watered manually. The modular Rockwool substrate distributes water and nutrients, promotes deep root growth, and resists mold with non-decaying fiber.

The upfront cost for substrate planters can be lofty, but including an irrigation system in the substrate, and wall composition will replace maintenance in the long run. Bucket planters are another great option to incorporate into Indiana’s climate. Generally, shallow perennials do best in this type of planter. The contents of these planters do require a level of maintenance. Annually, the contents of the planters will need to be emptied, plants will need to be watered, and vegetation will need to be replaced.

 

Image 1: Sage Green Life

                   vertical bucket planters

Bucket planters are another great option to incorporate in Indiana’s climate. Generally, shallow perennials do best in this type of planter.

The contents of these planters do require a level of maintenance. Annually, the contents of the planters will need to be emptied, plants will need watered, and vegetation will need replaced.

 

                     Image 3: live wall
                     Image 4: live wall

moss walls

Moss walls are a great low-maintenance option to add biophilic design to any space. Most commonly, moss walls are preserved, offering a low-cost alternative to a living wall system. There are both preserved and dyed, and live moss wall options depending on preference between aesthetics and ecological differences.

While preserved and dyed moss walls do not offer the same level of health benefits compared to living plants, they are a connection to nature for building tenants and are much less expensive. Preserved options can be purchased in various colors to convey a message or specific aesthetic. Living moss walls require water but very little light, meaning they are more feasible for an interior application.

 

Image 6: pinterest

                   ivy trellis walls

Trellis walls are a popular way to bring green to the exterior of a building. Ivy grows rapidly and can be led by a trellis or wire to create designs and accomplish a design aesthetic. Because ivy grows so fast, trimming back the plant will take maintenance. Watering and soil exchange is a low priority for most species.

Another benefit of ivy is that it can be beautiful throughout the seasons. Species like the Virginia Creeper become red and purple in autumn before shedding their leaves in the winter. Costs with an ivy trellis wall include purchasing anchors for the trellis, ivy starters, and minimal maintenance.

 

                     image 7: google street view
                     Image 8: visit fort wayne

Incorporating biophilic design within spaces we interact with each day can change how tenants feel and move through a space. To attain the benefits of biophilic design, no matter how intense the system, a level of effort has to be put into maintaining the plant in nature. Whether in the form of labor, time, or money, those implementing biophilic design will have to come to terms with the associated and continuous cost to keep things green. There are many ways to bring green design to Indiana, and more specifically Fort Wayne. Substrate planters, vertical bucket planters, moss walls, and ivy trellis walls are all fairly inexpensive, aesthetic ways to integrate biophilia in our city.

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