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Buildings of the future: embracing nature

Sustainable practices are key to preserving the Earth’s ecology for future generations. When it comes to our new buildings, there is a staggering level of innovation taking place in terms of the materials and methods used to develop our communities.

We’ve taken a look at some of the major building trends inspired by the natural world which could change our global cities… and our global perspective. Take a read here…

Embracing nature

As humans, often we find that our time is increasingly limited, so consumed are we by our digital and urban lives. It is easy to feel disconnected to the outside world and by extension, nature. Yet, architects and designers are successfully bridging this gap.

Biophilic design seeks to incorporate nature into the built environment. We crave connections to our surroundings and embracing the natural world can have significant benefits.

The colours, textures and patterns in a building can mimic the natural world, bringing the outside in. Some studies have shown that embracing natural light can help boost positivity, creativity and mood. Work and public spaces that follow this design pattern have the ability to promote good health and wellbeing in people, making our towns and cities better places to live and grow.

Self-healing buildings

Moving into the future, it will be essential that we preserve buildings, new and old. Not only to save historic and significant sites, but to prevent general wear and tear in everyday buildings. But is there a way to fix crumbling infrastructures without polluting the planet or creating waste?

Well, rather strangely with the help of mushrooms, it may be a worry of the past. A form of biomimicry, this new technique uses fungi to fill cracks in concrete. Modelled on biological entities and processes similar to self-healing properties found in the human body, the fungi hones in on micro-cracks and fills them, warding off long-term structural damage.

Potentially saving construction companies money and time, it will be intriguing to see how this transfers into everyday building practices.

Timber skyscrapers

Wooden skyscrapers are appearing across the globe, from Norway to New Zealand. When you first think of a timber skyscraper, it’s hard to imagine anything but the steel, glass and concrete skyscrapers that dominate our cities.

Yet the benefits are huge in terms of time and cost. While concrete can take days, if not weeks, to dry, timber can be cut to dimension in factory and constructed within hours; the wood panels are simply slotted into place.

This accelerated construction process is amplified by the issue of weight – more heavy goods vehicles are required to transport concrete, compared to wood which is lighter. Instantly, pollutants and emissions can be cut, adding further environmental benefit.

Algae house

There is a pressing need for efficient buildings, to reduce our carbon footprint.

Architecture is looking beyond conventional techniques for light management in commercial spaces. In Germany, designers truly looked outside of the box when building the BIQ building in Hamburg. One side of the structure is made up of a transparent wall which contains living microalgae that controls the light entering the building.

As the microalgae doesn’t propagate during darker, winter months, its transparent layer allows natural light to enter the building. On the flip side, the living matter blooms in the sunshine, creating shade during hotter periods.

The so-called “bioreactor façade” plays a major role in regulating access to natural light, in turn positively affecting the well-being and health of the building’s inhabitants.

The architects of today are already pushing the boundaries in using the natural world to help us live more connected, positive and sustainable lives. We can’t wait to see what’s next.

To read about our work as Built Environment PR specialists, please visit our website here or follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn for expert commentary and the latest industry news.


Lauren Venables – PR and social media executive

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