Biophilic Sanctuaries: Wellness-Boosting Public Spaces
Tapping into the wellness-boosting material boom forecast in our Look Ahead 2021, biophilic design principles and natural materials are infiltrating public spaces to create nourishing environments and reassuring experiences. We highlight two recent unveilings.
- Conceived by British architecture firm AL_A and landscape designer Sarah Price, the new Maggie’s cancer care centre in Southampton is designed to offer seclusion, protection and healing for all visitors. The pavilion-style building is set within a “woodland oasis” – a verdant and naturalistically landscaped garden inspired by the rich diversity of the nearby New Forest.
Meanwhile, a palette of warm and tactile materials ensures the building is welcoming and works in harmony with its green surroundings. Earthen ceramics clad some walls, while others are wrapped in a ripple-textured stainless steel that offers softened, distorted reflections of the gardens. See CMF Industry View: Architecture & Spaces 2021 for similar inspiration.
- As part of the Tokyo Toilet project, a venture to make the city’s public lavatories more inviting and accessible for all, Japanese architect Kengo Kuma has designed five toilet huts that recall “a walk in the woods” for Shibuya’s Nabeshima Shoto Park. Nestled among trees at the end of a meandering path, the cluster of huts appears camouflaged and secluded.
The toilet stalls are clad with cedar-board louvres, positioned at irregular angles to create an organic effect. The interiors also feature timber elements, while disks of reused cherry and panels of metasequoia decorate the walls. See Wood in Materials Evolution Spring/Summer 2022 for similar aesthetic themes.
Following months of turmoil – and with its proven benefits for our mental health – the yearning for biophilia and nature-imbued spaces will continue to intensify. For more restorative design strategies, see CMF for Post-Covid Wellbeing. And see our S/S 2022 Colour & Material Direction Flourish for more on the intimate and uplifting qualities of gardens and woodlands.