How Outdoor Amenities Can Incorporate Both Biophilia and Biodiversity
Deepening the connection between a built environment and its natural surroundings is crucial in creating sustainable, healthy outdoor design. That means greening buildings beyond amenity decks—to structures, balconies, and facades—investing in research and development, and integrating greening from the early stages of projects to ensure existing ecosystems are properly supported. A great place for firms to start? Thoughtfully consider plant varieties and the local wildlife, particularly birds, by utilizing city toolkits, native planting guides, and other resources.
Scroll down for a list of design and architecture resources or consult the full METROPOLIS Outdoor Amenities Resource.
From the Urban Nature Lab at the San Francisco Estuary Institute, the Making Nature’s City Toolkit translates decades of global ecological research into deployable design and planning strategies that can bridge the historically separate worlds of urban development and environmental conservation. Intended as a science-based framework for increasing urban biodiversity, the toolkit begins with Seven Elements of Urban Biodiversity then outlines non-site-specific design strategies applicable to a variety of green space typologies. The toolkit also includes helpful resources on how to analyze the current levels of urban habitat of any city, as well as searchable datasets such as annual global land use, global hydrologic soil groups, and Cornell University’s eBird Status and Trends.
Terrapin Bright Green, 14 PATTERNS OF BIOPHILIC DESIGN: Improving Health & Well-Being in the Built Environment
Few theories have influenced the planning and design of cities in the 21st century more than biophilia, the idea—popularized by the late ecologist E.O. Wilson—that humans have an innate biological connection to the natural world. Applied to everything from hospitals to office towers, biophilic design acknowledges this connection to create more healthful human environments. Terrapin Bright Green’s seminal 14 Patterns of Biophilic Design translates decades of research into actionable design strategies for both indoor and outdoor spaces. While some of the identified patterns, such as thermal and airflow variability, are inherent in outdoor spaces, many are applicable to the design of parks and other urban green spaces, including our preference for natural materials, biomorphic patterns and forms, and an interplay of complexity and order similar to that found in nature.
Despite their importance in supporting biodiversity, native plants are far from ubiquitous in urban landscapes, owing in part to a lack of supply but also to a lack of knowledge. To address the latter, in 2014 NYC Parks released the Native Species Planting Guide for New York City, a document that sought to increase the share of native species within the city by providing detailed information on native plant species suitable to the urban environment. The 2019 update builds on that work, compiling technical data for hundreds of native plants that will help landscape architects and other professionals confidently weave them into their work. Species are grouped by ecotype, from maritime habitats to upland forests, as well as by attribute (i.e., stormwater tolerance or pest resistance). Acknowledging the role of adjacent lands in protecting existing natural areas, the guide also maps New York’s most ecological valuable lands and outlines specific strategies for nearby projects.
Developed in partnership with respected entomologist, professor, and author Doug Tallamy, the National Wildlife Foundation’s Native Plant Finder allows designers to search for native plants using nothing more than a project’s zip code. Uniquely, the free, online resource—which is based on more than 3,000 references and the most up-to-date research—lists search results according to how many different species of caterpillar it supports; similarly, designers can search by specific butterfly species they look to attract. The mobile-friendly web platform also includes guidance on how to select species, where to find native plants, and where to find additional resources, such as a list of U.S. ecoregions and hardiness zones. Covering nearly the entirety of the United States, the native plant finder is an indispensable guide for designers and garden-owners alike.
The Outdoor Amenities Resource was produced in partnership with Expormim, KFI Studio, Landscape Forms, and Tuuci, with the participation of RIOS, SWA Group, Marvel Architects, Matthews Neilsen (MNLA), Climate Positive Design, and Perkins&Will.
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