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Towards a Biophilic Architecture

Unit C 2014-15

Undergraduate Design Studio at Oxford Brookes University


Barry Wark, 

Maria Knutsson-Hall

With continuing global warming, many of Europe’s ancient cities will need to take action and adapt. Unit C will travel to Seville in Spain where 1/3 of the country is facing desertification.

Seville is located in the fertile valley of the Guadalquivir river which is home to a depressed agricultural region with high unemployment. Studies indicate that the region will have a projected temperature increase by 3-6 °C and a reduction in rainfall by 15-30% by the end century. This will have a huge impact on the region and Seville in particular.

How will the city address the potential mass migration as people search for work? How will it approach the challenges of overheating, water and food? Can the city build on it’s existing position as a global leader in biotechnology and renewable energy as demonstrated in the PS20 solar tower project? Or should it instead look to promote tourism as other desert cities like Dubai and Las Vegas do by building more contemporary attractions like the Parasol?

The energy hungry air-conditioned metropolis is well known. Urban desert cities exclude the surrounding living world as a strategy to protect themselves from the climate. People are working and living in buildings with artificial systems, with less contact and understanding of nature. Can a reintegration of the relationship between nature- architecture- human improve our built fabric? Unit C will look to address and challenge the aforementioned issues through a series of methods:

• The analysis and interpretation of structural and environmental systems from nature.

• The creation of atmospheric , materially rich, spatial conditions through the utilisation of advanced digital design and manufacturing techniques.

• The integration of the local flora and fauna of the region in novel ways beyond the ‘green skin’ of many contemporary applications .

All this will allow the architectural propositions to move towards the creation of a biophilic architecture that possesses all the marvels and effects of the natural world whilst sustaining the very thing that inspires it .

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