Category Archives: Biophilia

Biophilia Essays: Brigade Gateway

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Brigade Gateway Complex

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In this integrated lifestyle enclave, one might expect a super-stimulatory artificial environment of advertisements and commercial infrastructure. Instead, the space is centered on water and trees, and it incorporates related imagery throughout. For the façade of the Orion Mall, situated on the site, the client’s initial desire for a “feel of ‘Times Square’” was satisfied without the need for a full-wall back-lit billboard. Opting instead for a custom wall art piece entitled the “Tree of Life” using color-controlled lights and a luminous “moon” element synchronized with the lunar cycle, AWA balanced spectacle with the natural surroundings. Though the moon itself is essentially inorganic, its regular cycle of 29½ days so influences the rhythms of terrestrial life forms and life systems that it becomes an object of biophilia, too. Extending the theme of pseudo-natural light, a reflective golden sun element directly mirrors the moon on the façade, and the entire façade lighting scheme for the project recalls its inspiration: the glow of the setting sun striking the buildings. The shadows created by the five-storey embossing of the tree of life, the wall’s ornamental centerpiece, mimic the filtering of light through foliage.Brigade Gateway_2

Indeed the idea of the tree canopy is present elsewhere in the design of the space, as well. One of the key focal points of the outdoor space is the 200 year-old rain tree, seen to best advantage when “moon lit” by powerful lamps on the roof of the World Trade Center, the complex’s tallest building. This powerful yet broadly diffused light imitates the light of the moon, ensures the safety of users of the outdoor space at all times of night, and eliminates the need for “harsh ‘area’ lighting.” The dappling of light through foliage was kept in mind when lighting the extensive tree plantings and pathways surrounding the body of water at the theater’s center.
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Biophilic Design

“Biophilic design” can refer to several trends in modern “green” design, but in most uses it indicates a design principle that goes beyond merely minimizing the impact of the built environment to create actual close contact between users and the “natural” world. By inviting nature into the design, whether through biomimicry, green curtain walls, extensive natural lighting (or simulations thereof), multi-species accessibility, or the like, a design reengages occupants with the environmental elements that may be inherently intertwined with our phylogenetic predispositions.

Biophilia Essays: Tote

Biophilia means “love of living things” and is a term coined by German psychologist Erich Fromm in his book The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness (1973). It was subsequently made popular in Edward O. Wilson’s Biophilia (1984), in which Wilson proposed that humans’ fixation with living systems has its basis in biology, as well as in later literature. Of course, neither Fromm nor Wilson was the first to suggest such an affinity or even that it was an essential part of human nature; however, under the name of “biophilia” the idea would go on to spark a series of cultural movements, from conservation efforts to stylistic philosophies of architecture and design.

Biophilic Design

“Biophilic design” can refer to several trends in modern “green” design, but in most uses it indicates a design principle that goes beyond merely minimizing the impact of the built environment to create actual close contact between users and the “natural” world. By inviting nature into the design, whether through biomimicry, green curtain walls, extensive natural lighting (or simulations thereof), multi-species accessibility, or the like, a design reengages occupants with the environmental elements that, according to Wilson, are inherently intertwined with our genetic predispositions.

Featured Project: Tote

In seeking a germ of inspiration that could guide a coherent lighting solution, through numerous design discussions, AWA and the project architects arrived at the image of “day light filtering through dense foliage.” This seed was nurtured systematically: from special rasterizations of photographs of tree canopies, the designers were able to extract a simple pattern of light and branches to implement in the physical space of the building. White metal columns mimic trees branching into the ceiling of the banqueting and indoor restaurant spaces.Tote_1

More than mere sculptural additions, these column elements are lit by “pockets of light” that, through organic placement and recessing of the fixtures, recall sunlight filtering in dappled patterns through foliage.Tote_3

Even in the secluded, dimly lit bar, directional light on the faceted, double-height wooden wall panels suggests shafts of daylight.
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