Biophilic Design in Architecture: Sustainable Cladding
Biophilic design is the process of incorporating nature into a built environment and helping the occupants of an urban space feed their instinctive desire to connect with the natural world. This can be done by integrating elements of nature into a building design – such as greenery, biomorphic designs, natural lighting, indoor-outdoor transitions and natural building materials.
As Australian architects and builders seek to incorporate the key principles of sustainability into their building designs, biophilic façades stand out as an excellent way of integrating natural materials and sustainable designs which allow buildings to interact harmoniously with the natural environment.
Sustainability isn’t just about natural materials – they are just one element of what is truly sustainable architecture. Sustainability is a holistic approach, encompassing every part of the building process, from site potential to energy efficiency and occupant comfort, all the way to decommissioning. Fairview takes all these factors into consideration with the Naturals Range, providing not only natural materials for beautiful biophilic design, but a range that helps improve energy efficiency and environmental quality and protects buildings against harsh climate conditions and disruptions. Learn more about Genesis, Argeton, Smartbric, and Fairview’s pioneering cladding recycling program, Ecoloop.
How the 3 Major Principles of Biophilic Design Impact Sustainability
Biophilic design is an effective way to blend together the natural world and the built environment, for a space that is more satisfying to its occupants, pays homage to the natural world and contributes to longer-term sustainability goals.
Direct Natural Experiences
Biophilic design allows people to interact with nature and experience it firsthand from within a built environment or urban space. Incorporating natural elements such as plants, as well as natural materials for façades and internal walls and floors not only contributes to renewable architecture but allows occupants to enjoy the beauty and benefits of nature every day. Interacting directly with nature improves mental and even physical wellbeing – which in turn also improves productivity. By incorporating natural elements directly, biophilic architecture also helps improve the resilience of a building, as natural materials can improve moisture absorption or runoff, prevent overheating, and stabilise temperature.
Indirect Experiences with Nature
As well as interacting directly with nature itself, biophilic design evokes our experiences with and memories of nature to improve mood and wellbeing. Biophilic façades in earthy colours or building designs that mimic natural spaces with rounded walls and flowing visuals can be reminiscent of some of our most uplifting, cathartic experiences in the natural landscape. These evocative spaces stimulate creativity and social interaction, helping create a generation with improved mental health and lower rates of illness.
Made from the earth’s natural resources with minimal processing, natural cladding materials reduce energy consumption in manufacturing. They are also easily recycled, or degrade easily, reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfill.
Connection with Space and Place
Biophilic building design doesn’t just connect nature with an artificial space but lets the space itself act as a catalyst for a better life. Biophilic spaces help people form a connection to a place, finding solace and refuge in a comfortable environment that helps them nurture their creativity. Seamless transitions between indoors and outdoors can build a stronger connection to the space allowing occupants to feel more at home. Natural spaces have the added benefit of improving a building’s environmental footprint, as incorporating natural materials and indoor-outdoor transitions can regulate airflow to reduce energy consumption and protect against sun and water damage.
How Biophilic Design can be Environmentally Sustainable Design
As architects seek to adopt the 2030 Sustainable Development goals, Environmentally Sustainable Design has come to the forefront of their planning process. Sustainability incorporates not only using sustainable, recyclable and natural materials, but considering how a site can be used efficiently and how the thermal performance of a building can be improved for better energy conservation – for example, by using a rainscreen façade for improved airflow. However, a 2021 study highlighted how important it is to also consider the human connection with nature. Reducing negative environmental impacts is crucial, but helping people harmoniously connect with their environment can’t be overlooked. Biophilic design isn’t just about respecting the environment but embracing it.
Fairview’s new Naturals Range brings Environmentally Sustainable Design and biophilic design principles together. Designers can bring the natural earthy tones of brick to their façade with Smartbric, while the rainscreen system protects the building from weather and moisture damage. Argeton, the versatile terracotta tile system, is formed from the earth and evokes a connection to the land, while adding durability and resilience against impact and UV rays. The natural textures of Genesis blend contemporary and natural façade designs, with a low-maintenance prefinished CFC panel to add longevity to a façade and reduce resource consumption.
Meanwhile, the Ecoloop ACP recycling program helps reduce harmful environmental impacts by recycling combustible cladding, while also opening the door for architects to specify natural materials as a replacement and create a new biophilic design to reinvent the façade.
Possible Effects of Widespread Adoptions of Biophilic Design Principles on Sustainability
Biophilic designs achieve a truly special purpose – both protecting the environment, and helping humans better understand their connection to it, so the two can co-exist harmoniously in the years to come. While urban environments have, in the past, separated humans from nature, biophilic design now looks to bring the two back together. Adopting biophilic design principles widely across the built environment could have vast benefits – which could encompass not only individual buildings, but entire cities. The principle of biophilic urbanism suggests that allowing biophilic design to flow through an urban environment could drastically improve human quality of life.
Biophilic architecture can foster connections with natural experiences to improve mental health, as well as using natural materials, greenery and transitional indoor-outdoor spaces to improve air quality across the neighbourhood. Biophilic and green infrastructure can reduce the negative impacts of the environment, instead allowing the built and the natural to work together – for example, green stormwater run-off management helps natural ecological functions work alongside buildings, with excess water being absorbed into the environment without damaging infrastructure. Rainscreen façades on buildings can also help moisture runoff return to nature, while protecting buildings against damage. This sort of symbiotic relationship between the natural and built environments can help reimagine sustainable urban landscapes as we know them, not only protecting nature but existing alongside and among it.