Military Housing the recent development in Australia has a lot of natural features, but will it encourage more businesses to use the biophilic design?
On Wednesday, the rooftop garden at St. Canice’s Church in Sydney’s Kings Cross was picked over. Groups of mental health patients from a nearby hospital take care of the vegetables, flowers, and herbs in the garden.
Rob Caslick, who is in charge of the project, says that just being outside and in touch with nature is like therapy. To prove his point, he asked a group of researchers from the hospital to keep an eye on the patients and see how they were doing. “They only do it once a week in a garden, but people say they feel much better afterward, “Caslick, who runs a soup kitchen in the same building as the clinic, says that the clinicians were surprised by how much people opened up to them while they were gardening.
The benefits of spending time in nature, which scientists call biophilia, are becoming more and more well-known. One well-known study showed that hospital patients who could see trees from their room windows got better faster than those who couldn’t.
But since Edward Wilson made the word “biophilia,” which means “love of life or living systems,” popular in the early 1980s, the idea hasn’t caught on in Australia as a whole.
“Real biophilic design uses all of your senses, which is why it can be so powerful. “It’s still not a very well-known topic or term,” says Caroline Pidcock, an architect in Sydney who is a leading proponent of nature-inspired design.
There are some signs that this might be changing. Defense Housing Australia (DHA). DHA doesn’t build hippie houses, but it does take care of a $10.6bn property portfolio. Still, its new 152-apartment complex in Alexandria will have a “pocket park,” grilling areas, rooftop gardens, chicken runs, and even an apiary (you know: for bees).
DHA’s currently under-construction Arkadia development is based on the idea that “functional seasonal landscapes” will create a sense of community and make people feel better. With so much nature right outside their door, the people who live there will feel compelled to “step outside and talk to each other.” So says the marketing blurb for the government business, at any rate. One Central Park in Sydney is a new building with similar “blue sky” (and “green wall”) goals.
The two residential towers have been called a “bouquet for the city” because they are covered from top to bottom in green plants and have terrace gardens on top. Even if the biophilic design is pretty, it has to make sense from a business point of view for it to catch on.