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2017 Greenbuild Conference - 3 Ways to Bring Nature to the City

The Greenbuild Conference takes place in the States each year in a bid to bring eco-friendly businesses together and provide them with the necessary tools and information to help create greener buildings and workplaces. Companies from all over visit to learn more about environmentally friendly ways to improve construction and share their insight with others. This year, it was held in Boston during November.

Panellists at this years' conference discussed their thoughts on biophillic building design and how it has positive impacts on the physical and mental health on occupants. During this talk, Jonce Walker, LEED AP, certified building adviser & associate in Thornton Tomasetti’s sustainability practice, delved into the details of biophilic design and used examples of his own company's work to help explain the concept further. Speaking of modern, minimalist building designs, “we’ve lost some of the wonderful detail when using nature as a reference point for architectural designs.”

An article on Multi Housing News' website discussed some of examples of biophilic designs within a city environment the panellists highlighted:

Porous Parks

Citing Midtown Manhattans 'pocket park' Paley Park makes use of sleek and simple furnishing, water features and airy trees in order to create a tranquil space is one of the busiest areas of the city. “The (parks) that are super successful are porous, the ones you experience throughout your day,” Walker said. “A lot of people will walk through a park simply because it’s the easiest way to get where they’re going.”

Water Features

Water is an incredibly calming element and when added to a bustling environment, it can reduce stress and anxiety. Walker spoke about the Brooklyn Beach Park, commenting, “Most American coastal cities have out-engineered the tides, and this is cool because it celebrates the tides." Built from the remains of a railroad float that settled on the riverbed, the park includes native species and structures created by ECOncrete, an innovative ecological concrete solutions company, to imitate natural tidal pools usually found along rocky coasts. Visitors are able to access some of the pools, allowing for a more interactive experience.


Organic shapes, textures and patterns can also invoke positive responses in people. Natural colours such as green and soft browns can also having a calming and creative effect. Walker said, “you can do biophilic (design) if you don’t have access to natural light, if you can’t get things to grow or get living things, you can still do it. It really helps you connect to a place and evokes nature.” Artificial plants are a great way to achieve biophilic design without the need for a well lit working environment.


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