What Are Biophilic Buildings? A Lesson From Vietnam

Biophilic Buildings To Create A Sustainable Environment In Smart Cities

Cities are expanding with the increase in population and the decrease in green space. Urban infrastructure is booming and so is traffic congestion and pollution. The number will keep worsening if urban planners do not move in the right direction. Smart cities will then be identified as ‘machine utopias’ rather than a space with high-quality living. By this, we mean that the growth of smart cities needs to happen hand in hand with nature. But that doesn’t just mean growing more trees, placing plants indoors or building green walls.

As modern green design architects suggest, smart cities need to design biophilic buildings. And this concept of placing nature at the core of construction goes beyond. It provides an immersive experience that is relaxing, calming, and sustainable to inhabitants, workers, and visitors. Read on to understand the beautiful concept of biophilia.

The Essence Of Biophilic Design

Humankind has always had a deep connection with nature since evolution. So, the lack of green space around us has a negative impact on our health and wellbeing. 

Essentially, nature is the door to release stress and experience tranquillity and harmony. The concept of biophilia defines the innate biological connection of mankind with nature. It explains why a beautiful garden view relaxes our senses; why taking a stroll in the park has restorative effects on us.

The idea draws all the necessary natural elements indoors to improve overall well being. This includes placing air, lighting, floor, greenery and furniture design in the right position to improve the indoor experience. 

For decades, design experts have been exploring the aspects of nature that most impact our satisfaction with the built environment. Biophilic design determines the relationship between human biology, nature and the design of the built environment. 

To understand better, Terrapin Bright Green classifies biophilic design into three categories. 

1. Nature in the Space

  • Visual connection with nature – Improvement in mental engagement, mood and emotions.
  • Non-visual connection with nature – Stimulating the sense of hearing, smelling, tasting and touch in reference to nature, living systems and natural processes.
  • Non-rhythmic sensory stimuli – exposure to natural sounds and fragrances for physiological restoration.
  • Thermal & airflow variability – Bringing air temperature, relative humidity, and surface temperatures that imitate natural environments.
  • Presence of water – Enhancing the experience of space through seeing, hearing or touching the water.
  • Dynamic and diffuse light – Benefiting from ranging intensities of light and shadow that change over time to create conditions that happen in nature.
  • Connection with natural systems – Focusing on seasonal and temporal changes indicative of a healthy ecosystem.

2. Natural Analogues

  • Biomorphic forms and patterns – Representing patterned, textured and numerical arrangement that we see in nature.
  • Material connection with nature – Using natural elements and material that reflect the local ecology or geology.   
  • Complexity & order – Implementing rich sensory information that adheres to a spatial hierarchy similar to those found in nature. 

3. Nature of the Space

  • Prospect – Providing unrestrained view over a distance for surveillance and planning. 
  • Refuge – Creating a place for withdrawal from environmental conditions. 
  • Mystery – Designing obscured views that excite a person to travel deeper into the built environment. 
  • Risk – Identifying threat and combining it with a reliable defence system.

The science behind the biophilic design is still open to research. Researchers are yet to unfold many facts relating to biophilic design. 

However many smart cities across the globe are putting their best foot forward to build biophilic buildings. Most recently, cities in Vietnam are being lauded for constructing a couple of biophilic structures that are going famous. Explore them and know more about the interesting features of biophilic buildings.

Sky House –  Ho Chi Minh City

CHICLAND Hotel - One Of Vietnam’s Largest Projects

Sky House is a residential apartment in Ho Chi Minh City. The building is designed by MIA Design Studio using the concept of biophilia. Its construction was accomplished in December 2019. 

The area used to build Sky House is large enough to accommodate a townhouse. However, the architects eliminated creating unnecessary rooms by paving more space for light, wind, water and trees.

The house is split into half. The first half welcomes sun, wind, water and trees or empty spaces. And the other half serves family activities with minimal utilities. As a result, a generous sky well allows light to enter the rooms and chambers. This benefits plenty of plants, trees, indoor plants and indoor ponds.

A vertical connection links the house and the sky. This allows the house to receive indirect sunlight. With this element, the inhabitants can feel the changes in the weather and daylight hours.

CHICLAND Hotel – Danang

CHICLAND Hotel is the largest project in Vietnam that used Adobe brick for constructing a total of 21 floors and 4 facades. Adobe brick is a popular eco-friendly material among architects as it bestows emotions to space. In addition, it has the capability of waterproofing, soundproofing and insulating to create calm and cool space. 

Local materials such as nulgar bamboo, sandstone, rattan, basalt stone and other traditional materials are also used. Furniture and other interior decors are made using these natural materials. The building is the only one in the country to boast the largest vertical garden. The exterior and interior design make guests feel they are in green heaven.

Each room has a sea view or a greenery view with plenty of natural light. Guests get the beautiful experience of waking up with sunshine and taking a stroll around the small garden. This garden area is just inside their room’s balcony.

Brick Cave – Hanoi

Vietnamese Architecture Displays State-of-the-Art Biophilic Design

Brick Cave is an unusual and rather innovative house designed by H&P Architects. Its principal architect is Doan Thanh Ha, winner of the recent Turgut Cansever International Award. The building stands in the suburban area of Hanoi. The design of the house makes the residents feel that they are living among nature.

As per H&P Architects, the house structure mimics a cave. It boasts a two-skin exterior with the outer fully perforated, having large windows. The two brick wall casings meet each other at steep angles. The two layers act as filters to keep the bright sunshine, dust, noise out of the central living space. The outer layer promotes the entry of natural light and air. It helps keep indoors cool during the scorching summers of the region.

The ground floor is open and welcoming with a courtyard arrangement. As the residents move up the buildings, it tapers to give more privacy. Window frames, ceilings, stairs, and furniture are made of sustainable timber. The roof is home to a beautiful plant garden that resembles a vegetable garden.

Central Park – Ho Chi Minh City

Until now, we explored biophilic buildings in Vietnam that have already reached completion. The final one we are discovering is the redesign of the Central Park in Ho Chi Minh City. This project is awarded to LAVA and ASPECT Studio. The construction is about to start in the final quarter of 2020.

The place will be home to outdoor art galleries, sports arena, playgrounds, music and theatre performance pavilions, skate park, and more. The natural spaces will include water features, forests, waterfalls, and walking trails. In addition, the design will include artificial trees to harvest water and energy. Water purification trees will collect rainwater and recycle it for fountains and fire hydrants. Ventilation trees will work to reduce heat and create fresh air. And there will also be solar trees to store power.

Biophilic buildings are gradually becoming a trend, making cities truly livable for people of all ages.