Home > Sustainable Design > Building Design and the Natural Environment

Building Design and the Natural Environment

By: James Murray-White - Updated: 18 Apr 2016 | comments*Discuss
 
Designing Nature Anthropocentric Farmers

Humans live in a very anthropocentric world; that is most of us, unless we are farmers, or live deep within the countryside, spend our time dealing with other people, and not thinking about the wider world. Human dis-connection with the natural world is one of the great themes of the 21st century.We are now experiencing climate change as up until now, our human society hasn't stopped to consider our effect upon the environment.

Even living in the heart of a crowded city, be it London, Birmingham, Manchester or Glasgow (to name the biggest and busiest in the UK), it is possible to stop and contemplate how nature interacts with the urban environment, and in fact, nature remains all around us and is the strongest force of all. Last year computer simulations were released showing how quickly the natural world would 'take over' London if us humans were to disappear (for whatever reason). They showed that within 6 months, the River Thames would burst its banks, weeds and other hardy plants would push up through the cracks in the pavement, and within the space of about 2 years, inner-London would have become a real 'urban jungle'.

Bringing Nature into Our Buildings

The main issue for the human community living in urban buildings is to have a view of nature. To be near a park or a river (or just looking at a lovely old tree, maybe an oak, alder or spruce) is important, and ideally the buildings we live and work in should have a view of these too. Try to ensure that any sustainable new-build project incorporates views from its doors and windows, instead of backing onto the next door property.

Try to position windows where the height will give the maximum sightline of trees, grass, or any urban wild areas in the vicinity. Using a lot of glass, as in a passive solar design technique, will also allow light to flood the house, which as well as heating and cooling the property, gives a more natural effect to its users and inhabitants.

Some new-build houses have been built around an existing tree. This can be a wonderful experience to live with a living tree inside the property. It is important to consult experts to consider how a tree's expanding roots could effect the structure of the building, but walking into a house that contains a living tree that existed before the property, is a magical experience.

If this isn't possible, then potted trees and plants are a must. As well as providing a natural aesthetic, plants absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and purify it through the leaves. Larger plants can provide shade within a building, and colour can radiate from plants creating a feeling of harmony and balance. It can be a great experience for kids to grow up looking after plants, both inside and outside a house; planting, watering, and generally looking after a living plant.

Buildings and Nature: The Symbiosis of Design

If a new build is to happen in a more rural or wilderness environment, the options are many.Many architects now specialize in designing buildings for the area they are to be in, which might involve original shapes based on the local environment, or even built into the environment – into the side of a mountain for instance, or deeply embedded within a forest.

The buildings materials are important too, for example, using all wood for a new property in a forest allows the building to be part of the environment, rather than imported into it. Using natural materials where possible, enhances the symbiotic – or inter-connectedness, between a building for humans and the natural world.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
I am studying built environment at New College Lanarkshire. We have to find case studies with homes that have sustainability. I am looking for a unique build to speak of/use. The sustainable build should be a home. I would love a retrofit home. If anyone knows of such a build/project, could you please let me know as I am quite keen to build a good knowledge and dive into this project.
MartynCampbell - 18-Apr-16 @ 2:35 PM
I am studying built environment at New College Lanarkshire. We have to find case studies with homes that have sustainability. I am looking for a unique build to speak of/use. The sustainable build should be a home. I would love a retrofit home. If anyone knows of such a build/project, could you please let me know as I am quite keen to build a good knowledge and dive into this project.
HeatherBells - 23-Apr-15 @ 10:35 AM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
SEARCH OUR SUSTAINABLE BUILD DIRECTORY...
IN TOWN / POSTCODE:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • SaSha WarLen
    Re: Straw Bale Construction
    Hi All, Here's hoping I'm in the right place! I am looking to build a 3-4 bedroom Straw Bale House approximately 120 square metres…
    2 December 2018
  • Rahi
    Re: New Developments: Environmentally Friendly Concrete
    What is novacem n how can this bring change n be environmental friendly?
    26 November 2018
  • Tommo
    Re: Transport Links to New Build Developments
    Our Council has refused planning permission for a well known developer to build 300 houses on land outside the…
    22 November 2018
  • Colm Breathnach
    Re: Straw Bale Construction
    Hi there, does anyone know of construction grade straw bales for sale, and can they be delivered to us in County Kerry, Ireland?
    16 November 2018
  • Lyn
    Re: Pollution From Construction
    Hi. Good day to the editor of Sustainable Build. Hope you're doing fine. I'm Romalyn. I'm a writer and I’m learning a lot from…
    15 November 2018
  • Chanti
    Re: Financing Your Sustainable Development Project
    Hi I am very keen on building an eco earth home with self sustaining energy and food supply I would like…
    13 November 2018
  • Sarah
    Re: Straw Bale Construction
    Hello, i am planning a simple rectangular strawbale home (2 bed, one bathroom, 2 storey, with one downstairs living/cooking spacd) in…
    9 November 2018
  • DrG
    Re: Grants and Loans for Green Development
    Hi. My wife & I are self building a highly airtight, insulated eco home with GSHP, MVHR, PV solar etc. Can anyone…
    7 November 2018
  • Alessandro Aroni
    Re: Pollution From Construction
    Very useful information, but i would love to know the sources of the pollution rates information, shown at the begining. And what…
    6 November 2018
  • Hudsondorset
    Re: Straw Bale Construction
    I’m a builder with a degree in environmental science & policy, and am highly experienced in sustainable living and building. Our team…
    4 November 2018