From simply inviting the outside in with a fixture like a sliding glass door, to carving a home out of a rockface - architecture can help us reconnect with the natural world in all kinds of spectacular ways.
In our busy and increasingly urban existence, it’s not surprising that studies have found that we spend 90% of our lives indoors. With many of us now choosing to work from home, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to connect with the outside world - but architects and designers have found ways to help us reconnect with nature, from the simple and understated to the elaborate and grandiose.
Biophilic design - buildings designed entirely with nature in mind
On the ostentatious side of the scale, is biophilic architecture. Biophilia is a term for humanity’s inherent desire to connect with nature, and biophilic design takes this principle and uses it as a tenet for building design - and the results are often spectacular.
Evidence has shown that biophilic design can reduce stress, improve cognitive function and creativity, boost our wellbeing, and expedite healing. There is a very real scientific case for factoring in a connection with the natural world to our buildings.
What’s particularly exciting about this notion is the sheer number of ways this can be approached. One of the most enthralling principles of architecture is creativity, and biophilic design has led to some of the most original and breathtaking designs in recent years.
A stunning example of this is the ‘One Central Park’ building, in Sydney, Australia. This astonishing building is so impressive that photos of it look more akin to conceptual architectural designs, ratherthan actual images. Hanging gardens adorn the side of the structure, turning the striking, angular installation into a quite literally living embodiment of the synergy between modern construction and the natural world.
While buildings like this are certainly a talking-point, some biophilic designs are less extravagant. When it comes to biophilia, some designers - and homeowners - have found ways of thinking outside the box.
A couple in Sweden had the ingenious idea of encasing their entire home in a giant glass greenhouse - and the result was magnificent. It might be tempting to assume that in doing this, they created a barrier to the world outside, but in reality, this construction gave them access to all kinds of opportunities to connect with nature - most significantly by enabling them to fill their home with foliage and fauna, and grow plants that wouldn’t otherwise be able to survive in Sweden’s climate.
Homes built from the earth itself
For some, a connection with the natural environment is so important, they choose to design and build properties and homes entirely with this principle in mind. They take biophilia to the extreme, creating structures from the very earth itself.
This might sound otherworldly, but it’s very much a reality. One individual decided to construct a home in a woodland property, entirely out the natural building materials he could find in the environment. Throw aside all assumptions of Ray Mears-esque woodland shelters - the home created is a truly beautiful wooden creation, akin to the Hobbit Holes of Tolkien’s fiction.
Wood isn’t the only material some builders elect to work with - the Rockhouse Retreat is a home built entirely into (and out of) a rock face (which you can even spend a night in during a back-to-nature holiday).
Inviting the outside in - Sliding Glass Doors
One of the purest and simplest ways to reconnect with nature, and the world outside, is simply to keep it in view. At Cantifix, working with glass on a daily basis, this deep connection - this seamless integration between two spaces - lies at the heart of what we believe in
Arguably the best examples of this are our sliding glass doors. When installed between an interior and exterior space, sliding glass doors invite the outside in - they provide a window to the natural world outdoors, and mean that even when we spend large amounts of time indoors, we always have a connection to the wider world.
These installations also seamlessly and effortlessly remove any physical barrier - by sliding open - meaning that there are few better ways to build a connection with nature into a property, home, or building design.
Take, for example, our project at Innox Lodge. We used the innovative Sky-Frame 2, installing three glass walls that come together to look out over a picturesque garden. With the addition of an invisible corner, the result is an interior space which consistently and elegantly reconnects those inside with the outside world.
It’s heartening to see so many architects, builders, and even homeowners taking steps to find ways to factor a connection with nature into their building designs. It’s easy to simply decree modern architecture as an embodiment of our urban disconnect from natural world, but in reality there are all kinds of ways it subverts this.
From simple glass installations, to extensive and all-encompassing designs, architecture and design are opening the door to a connection with the outside, without forcing us to physically step out of the buildings we spend so much time in - which we think is pretty inspiring.