Designing with Nature

by Sam Jones

I have lived on the beautiful south coast at the foot of Mount Kembla since I was 7 years old. There is seldom a day that I don’t enjoy the escarpment or the ocean in some way, either riding my bike up on the mountain, swimming, surfing or reading down on the beach. This morning, for example, I was at Diggies café sitting outside watching the sunrise over North Beach.

These reflections follow last week’s workshop on Biophilic Design at Edmiston Jones. Caroline Pidcock’s presentation challenged me to consider how I bring these parts of my life, the natural place, into how I think about the work we do in the built environment. How is our built environment in Wollongong encompassing the everyday experiences I have in my natural place between the escarpment and the ocean?

Biophilic design, as Caroline described it, does not separate us from nature but connects us to it through multisensory experiences within the built environment. More information on this can be found in Caroline’s blog from last week and through reading 14 Patterns of Biophilic Design by Terrapin.

Following Caroline’s talk, biophilic design was seen through the lens of Margie and Gabe’s presentation which included the Grand Pacific Health Centre in Nowra. They described the ways that we, as a firm, are integrating biophilic design principles into our work. This was taken a step further by our client, Grand Pacific Health CEO, Ron De Jongh, who reviewed the performance of the GPH Centre as an occupant of the building. Ron provided practical examples of the benefits of biophilic design noting how doctors, nurses and staff are attracted to the GPH Centre because of its thoughtful and integrated design.

From left to right: Margie moderated the panel – Caroline, Ron and Gabe, as well as Rasmus Frisk from arki_lab; Caroline, a champion of biophilic design; Grand Pacific Health CEO, Ron De Jongh, describes working in a building designed with nature; Mark opened the event to an audience of professionals and students; Margie and Gabe described how Edmiston Jones apply biophilic design.

Caroline provided compelling statistics showing that biophilic design not only improves happiness and comfort, but also productivity and effectiveness in the workplace. It is exciting and fulfilling to be a part of work in this practice designing built environments for health and wellbeing facilities that enable primary health staff to perform their vital role productively and effectively.

The challenge I took from the event and now share with you is to think about your place; where you are from and consider how you can interact with and make natural environment integral to your life and the places that you live.

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