Architecture is an ever-changing concept that always transforms itself concerning society’s values. Architecture today is an excellent example of how buildings have changed from using the natural environment as a tool to incorporating nature into its design for aesthetics and eco-friendly reasons. Nature itself serves an endless palette of inspiration. Architects and designers cannot design or build a good building without understanding its relationship with the natural and surrounding environment. The natural environment confines all living and non-living things occurring naturally. The natural environment in architectural design has many influencing factors that can help a building merge well with the location, be more conscious of its surroundings and deliver design longevity.
The natural environment plays multiple roles in architecture. One of the roles is that it aids in the aesthetic view of buildings. People often choose a scenic location, probably overlooking a mountain or even by the beach. Waking up to a beautiful vista with the sounds of nature is always better than waking up to the hustling and bustling of the city. Apart from offering breathtaking views of nature, it also elevates the spirit of architecture. For example, it is mentioned that the garden in the Taj mahal that starts from the end of the main gateway and ends near the squared base of the mausoleum is an integral part of the Taj Mahal structure and is one of the major highlights of the visit for many people.
Aside from the aesthetic purpose, the natural environment also aids in elevating the mood. It is a visual connection between the indoors, the outdoors, and the natural environment. It can help reduce stress, produce positive emotional functioning, and improve concentration. For example, window views of natural landscapes minimize stress in the office environment. Trees and outdoor gathering places are associated with increased social interactions and a sense of community in a poor urban neighborhood. Having waterfalls or any water feature aids in our understanding of comfort. Biodiversity, such as different animals or vegetation, is essential in creating a biophilic building.
Constructing buildings that are friendly to the natural environment and greener, which can be adaptable to the surroundings, is essential as it helps reduce the overall impact of the built environment on human health and nature. Green buildings or green architecture is a current trend that affects the environment positively because they take landscaping into account. Green buildings also consider the construction process, ensuring that waterways remain unpolluted with construction by-products. Factors like efficiently using energy, water, and other resources, protecting residents’ health, and improving people’s productivity, are critical features of sustainable architecture. Additionally, reducing waste, pollution, and environmental degradation is also considered.
The location of a building and how it interacts with the local infrastructure and the community is crucial to the improvement of sustainability and the well-being of the residents. Green building certifications like LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for construction and significant renovation have a category dedicated to building locations. Location, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, material selection, indoor environmental quality, and innovative design are the six main categories on the LEED certification checklist.
Relevance of Site Study and Site Analysis | Natural Environment
The natural elements around the building, local products, and historical relevance are a few aspects of the natural environment that spark the greatest inspiration for good architecture. Conducting a thorough site study is one of the primary steps before getting into the design development phase of architecture. Investigating the immediate context, like the buildings and structure around the location, the architectural style of those buildings, heights, patterns, proportions, materials, colors, rhythms, and local building traditions are a few things considered while conducting a site study. Apart from this, site analysis is performed by studying the site context, including the site orientation, sun, shadow, views, topography, flora, and weather. The further in-depth study involves exploring the past and the present of the location, which includes the people that live around the site now or used to live there, what they did and how they live. This gives the site context and history and helps enrich the architect’s thinking.
The benefits of interacting with and seeing nature are numerous. Beyond the technical advantages, feeling the presence of the living world around improves and elevates the spirit. Today, one of the significant challenges in architecture is finding a location that allows nature to be understood through different shapes and forms. The space should encourage awareness, consciousness, and a commitment to the natural environment and materials. Design features like oversized windows, the orientation of the windows, and fenestrations aid in better indoor air quality and provide great views of nature around the space. Hence the relationship between architectural location and the natural environment is robust as it enables healthy living. Also, one should take good care of the buildings built in it as it directly impacts the environment.
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