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Why Biophilic Design Matters

Since Optima’s founding, we have thoughtfully developed environments where nature and architecture coexist. This principle of sustainability – known throughout architecture as biophilic design – is becoming increasingly popular across the world throughout all types of built environments.

The process of biophilic design isn’t anything new to the world of architecture; however, in recent years, the design principle has seen a renaissance. Today, biophilic design is used within modern architecture as a method to fulfill the inherent connection between humans and nature. 

Because our natural habitats have increasingly become built environments, designers and architects have discovered the significant value of adding biophilic elements into all kinds of structures to enhance the relationship between natural and built environments. The framework for designing these biophilic environments consists of employing both direct and indirect experiences of nature. Direct experiences incorporate everything from natural light, fresh air and organic landscapes, while indirect experiences include utilizing natural materials and colors and ecological attachments to a location. Everything from skylights to green walls to fountains all apply the conventions attached to the design principle. 

Health Benefits

Beyond creating connectivity to natural environments, biophilic design also supplies an ample amount of benefits to both its surroundings and those who inhabit them. One of the most prolific benefits attached to the design principle is the improvement of air quality. Designs that employ vibrant greenery absorb the natural toxins in the air, ultimately enhancing the atmosphere.

Having access to vegetation and other models of biophilia also has a direct impact on happiness and wellbeing. When design principles like natural light and ventilation are introduced into built environments, a greater appreciation forms – establishing a more welcoming, advantageous space. 

Biophilic Design in Optima

Throughout our communities at Optima, we use biophilic design to improve the lives of our residents and complement their beautiful surroundings and communities. In our latest project, Optima Lakeview, we’re employing biophilic design throughout many elements of the architecture.

The development features a stunning atrium that includes our signature vertical landscaping system within it. At the atrium’s top, an expansive skylight fills the space below it with an abundance of natural light. Optima Lakeview is also home to a variety of private terraces and setbacks featuring lush vegetation and ensuring residents a seamless transition from outdoor to indoor environment.

From the materials used in construction to the greenery placed throughout a building, more and more architects are discovering how to include biophilic design within their builds, connecting their built environment with the natural world around them.

Modernism and the Pandemic

This year, health and wellness have been more important than ever. And with self-quarantining and spending more time at home, many have redefined what a healthy home means. Like other shifts in the world, COVID-19 has certainly prompted us to reflect on the impact of design. We’ve seen how Modernism has affected pandemics in the past, but how might it impact our sense of wellness during COVID-19?

Green-Inspired Design

To house healing tuberculosis patients, the Paimio Sanatorium was designed to connect its residents to fresh air and the healing qualities of nature. While its setting in Southwestern Finland was ideal for recovery, it’s not a feasible solution for those trying to stay healthy in urban areas. Our buildings bring the outdoors in, connecting residents to nature through green roof gardens, vertical landscaping systems, private terraces and lush common spaces. 

Natural Light

Sunshine is another natural remedy for ailing health problems, and the iconic expansive windows found across Modernist practices invites plenty of light inside. From Optima Signature in Chicago, to Optima Kierland Center and Optima Sonoran Village in Scottsdale, our buildings feature floor-to-ceiling glass curtain walls, swathing our interiors in light. And for those who may want to more fully soak in the sun, our outdoor amenity spaces, like the grand courtyard promenade at Optima Camelview Village, have plenty of seating amongst resort-style luxury amenities for residents to get their daily dose of Vitamin D.  

Minimal and Open

Modernism is known for its minimalist design, where a lack of ornamentation, decorative moldings or elaborate trims are simplified to create a clean aesthetic. Also simplified: floor plans. Modernist architecture is known for its simple, sweeping interiors, taking a “less-is-more” approach to the division of space. At Optima, our large, open floor plans provide bigger and more open spaces, rather than a series of small rooms, allowing people to comfortably spread out and maintain a safe distance.

Whether residents are still self-isolating or just spending more time at home, we know it’s a challenging time to stay healthy and well, both mentally and physically. But we hope that the Modernist sensibilities of our buildings allow for moments of respite throughout the day and better opportunities to focus on wellness.

Our Signature Vertical Landscaping System

With every project, we ask ourselves how the natural land around us influences, affects and works in tandem with the structures we build. Seeking to holistically integrate the natural and built environments led us to develop our next-generation vertical landscaping system. The lush green element, utilized in many of our Arizona properties, is a cornerstone feature of Optima communities, a key component to our sustainability initiatives and so much more.

Our signature vertical landscaping system at Optima Kierland Center.
Our signature vertical landscaping system at Optima Kierland Center.

Aesthetic Enhancement

On its surface level, our signature vertical landscaping system serves to enhance the natural beauty of our communities. The lush verdure enables a palette of vibrantly colored plants at the edge of each floor to grow both up and over the edge of the building. This creates beautiful, private terrace gardens for each unit in buildings like Optima Camelview Village, Optima Kierland Center, and Optima Sonoran Village. The intense greenery also plays bold juxtaposition to our building’s facade, where concrete and glass work work in harmony to celebrate the relationship between the built and natural environment, with glass blurring the boundaries between indoor and outdoor, home and garden. 

Our signature vertical landscaping system at Optima Sonoran Village.
Our signature vertical landscaping system at Optima Sonoran Village.

Functional, Sustainable Beauty 

Our signature vertical landscaping system isn’t just for aesthetic value — it plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy and sustainable environment. The system, with self-containing irrigation and drainage, provides a haven for urban wildlife, promotes evaporative cooling, re-oxygenates the air, reduces dust and smog levels, reduces ambient noise, detains stormwater and thermally insulates and shields residents from the desert sun, all of which contributes to a sustainable urban environment. Residents also experience the direct impact of being surrounded by nature, with the vertical landscaping system serving as a connection to nature and added source of privacy.

Like all good design, our vertical landscaping system is a natural study in form and function. We’re proud to pioneer a system that contributes to the natural beauty of the environment, and helps preserve it, too.

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