5 minute read

Connect with Nature

A DESIGN STRATEGY SERIES FOR THE BUILD ENVIRONMENT

Photograph by Christopher Clarke

The BASICS

“Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.”  Albert Einstein

As we spend more time in our home away from our daily routines, we are reminded of the necessity and luxury of connecting to nature. Parks, beaches and walks in the woods where possible, have become the way we can make this connection today, albeit cautiously, shying away from others. When this is all over, will we go back to the way things were and continue to take our environment for granted, or will we hold on to the longing we currently feel for being outside?

To feel the connection to the natural world, we can experience the same psychological, physiological and emotional benefits by being in our own space through carefully curated spaces that invite the outside in.

The Upstate Glass House by Ramona Albert

Where do we spend our life?

A 2001 NHAPS study has determined that we spend 90% of our lives inside but it is proven that simple things like the presence of natural light enhances our mood, increases performance and creates greater comfort.

When designing or renovating a space, natural elements become a driving force.

There are a multitude of ways to achieve integration with nature.

This document is an introduction to a sensual and elegant approach to design, one that combines a set of carefully curated connections based on a minimal and well informed aesthetic. The series to follow will provide design strategies that tackle each aspect of the design process in detail.

The Senses

Imagine the effect of a comforting material, texture or smell. Imagine walking through a natural environment where there are multiple layers of textures and colors in constant transformation. Think of the perfect temperature or a crisp smell in the air and its effect on your body.

When spaces explore the tactile and sensorial qualities of materials, they have a positive healing effect.

Kokedera Moss Garden, Kyoto
Photograph by Ramona Albert

The choice of earth toned colors enhances mood, and has a calming effect, and natural materials like wood, stone and leather and other natural fabrics have a positive healing effect. These materials display the beautiful imperfections of the natural world, and age beautifully, forming a lasting patina leading to a sense of the passage of time.

Gam Fratesi Restaurant, Manilla
Photograph by Gam Fratesi

The Order of Space

Nature has an amazing capacity to create beauty from chaos, and most of it is driven by necessity. Patterns of organization found in nature are ways in which nature can teach us how to build, how to live in a functional way as nature seamlessly blends engineering with design.

Park Vijversburg by Junga Ishigami
Photograph by Iwan Baan

Design provides a segway into the connection to the natural forms and organizations, and can provide inspiration for sustainable lifestyle and environments. The inspiring relationship between space and order in nature can be embedded in our own world through careful articulation of the connection between two distinct spaces, the creation of views into the landscape, and organizing the environment in ways that offer security and comfort.

Light in Water by DGT Architects and Takuji Shimmura
Photograph by Takuji Shimmura

The Immediate Connection

There is no comparison to being physically surrounded by natural elements. The presence of a living system in our interiors, is one of the most powerful connections to nature.

Ecological constructs within a space need to be designed carefully so that they blend the boundary between indoor and outdoor.

It is not enough to think of this connection via a singular element, but rather as part of a larger system through the abundance of green space and rooted into the specific local ecology.

Entryway at Naoshima Art Museum
Photograph by Ramona Albert

The Integrated Food Ecology

The current pandemic we are reminds us of the urban dependence on the rural environment, a call to study further the integration of urban life with nature.

Scientists point out that agriculture currently uses a third of the Earth’s land, but there are ways in which we could grow all the food we need on less land. We can then imagine a world in which our agriculture is also integrated with our everyday life, similar to how Singapore is treating their urban farming today.

Through existing technology our homes can grow their own vegetables and provide a large portion of a nutritious healthy diet at all times of the year. With the use of advanced lighting technology and hydroponic systems, our homes can become part of the greater green urban structure, unplugged from dependency on outside sources to a great extent.

Feature House by Apostrophy's
Photograph by Apostrophy's

About

Ramona Albert, AIA is an award winning designer and builder practicing in New York. She is the founder and Principal of Ramona Albert Architecture P.C., a Brooklyn based studio.

With an aesthetic rooted in the natural environment and sustainable building, she takes a holistic approach to the design process and relies on her extensive experience in construction management to develop buildings and products from inception to final construction, with a particular focus on innovation. She enthusiastically embraces advancing technology, pushing the limits toward the development of new materials and building techniques while continuously optimizing results for each client and project.

Ramona is a registered architect in the United States in NY and CT, is an NCARB member. She holds a Master of Architecture from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and has taught, completed research, lectured, published and exhibited her work throughout the US and abroad.

Ramona is a member of the AIA, U.S. Green Building Council, NY Passive House & International Living Future Institute. The office is certified as a Women Owned Business Enterprise.

Ramona Albert