Nature-Based Design Theory has been described as
"designing in a way that honours the complexity of life itself".
It is a theory that establishes the relationship between nature and design through humanity's need and connection to the natural environment. The most common forms of applying Nature-Based Design can be seen through Biophillia (adding greenery to interior environments) and Sustainable Practices (reducing one's carbon footprint, sourcing sustainable products, etc.). A creative approach to applying Nature-Based Design is through drawing inspiration the processes of nature and analyzing these creations further to find the concepts that can drive a design into an immersive experience. This can be done through understanding the process of various organisms, researching how materiality reacts to different triggers within a space and applying these findings to the design. For the purpose of exploring this theory further, I have completed a conceptual project that reflects my perspective of Nature-Based Design.
Integrating the culture of a project with nature based theory welcomes the opportunity for inspiration to be interpreted in various forms. To apply nature based design, I've chosen to design a coffee shop that takes inspiration from the anatomy of a coffee bean.
The anatomy (fig 2) of the coffee bean consists of a notable framework that leads to organic shapes which relate to one another. Using design strategies and materials to convey the unique gestures of the coffee bean guides the design to take on a transformative and natural perspective.
Upon entering the newly designed coffee shop (fig 3), patrons are greeted with a landing mark, inspired by the coffee bean. The coffee pods in the Harvest Zone are designed to entice customers to spend time and enjoy the experience of the organic, biophilic design that reminds one of the natural environment. The heart of the space has been configured as the Roasting Zone to frame the Barista Bar and Kitchen with retail displays flanking the walls. To take advantage of the natural light and views, bar height seating is provided along the stretch of windows. The Brewing Zone is where the natural elements come to life and patrons are surrounded by a living environment that is subtle, yet noticeable through the implementation of greenery, glass panels to reflect light, quaint water features and furniture that speaks to the senses through form and materiality.
The orientation of the building allows the sun to rise behind the structure in the morning and welcome gorgeous views of the sunset by late afternoon-evening. The transition of heat will allow the ceiling installation of the Translated Geometries to be manipulated as the sun rays increase the temperature within the space throughout the day, while bringing in an additional “living” element to the space.
The material selections were inspired by the warmth of coffee and the various shades of brown that it takes. Using a white oak veneer for millwork allows each zone to be connected as one enters through the “Harvest Zone” through to the “Brewing Zone”. These zones are not explicitly conveyed, but subtly guide the patron through the experience of transformation, similar to that of a coffee bean from being harvested to roasted, then brewed to enjoy.
The parchment wallcovering is a nod to the parchment layer found in the coffee bean, subtly tying in the concept. Additionally, the bold marble is featured in the entrance, the façade for the barista bar and as the material for the communal table. This continuation makes the zones feel connected, while giving patrons a piece of Earth’s natural art to ponder on. Finally, the organic gestures displayed through the curves of the millwork accent the square pieces of furniture and triangular design elements that remind us of nature.
Designing the Bean Pods (fig 4) in the abstract shape of a coffee been provide patrons with a nook that allows for privacy, along with an intimate seating arrangement for additional guests, depending on what the patrons prefer. The surrounding biophillia and velvet upholstery adds a soft accent to the hard surfaces. The velvet upholstery is extended through the pod to act as an acoustic element to control sound and keep the environment feeling tranquil.
The specific highlight of the Barista Bar (fig 5) is the ceiling installation that transforms its body based on thermal energy. Integrating a product that morphs into different organic forms is a unique element to tie the concept of transformation into the space. The specific material is called Translated Geometries and is developed in a triangular tessellation to allow the heat to pass through efficiently and manipulate the shape of the material.
The featured planter upon entering the back lounge (fig 6) has its own quaint water moat to provide an added element of nature that aids the relaxation experience in the Brewing Zone. Here patrons can work, be creative or brew their thoughts while enjoying their coffee.
Nature based design is an important theory to consider when designing any space. The connection we have to the natural environment is the factor that adjusts important internal elements such as our stress levels, circadian rhythms and mental health. Bringing in elements of nature in any capacity, whether literal or inferred, is a strong step to providing the user of the interior space with an interior environment that they can connect with.