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Biophilic Austin: A Deeper Look Into the Biophilic Cities Network’s Newest Member

By |January 31st, 2017|Categories: Ideas & Tools|

The Biophilic Cities Network welcomed Austin, Texas as a Partner City and celebrated the city’s dedication to preserving its rich natural heritage to benefit both people and nature. Austin has taken significant steps to protect and promote its wildlife, water bodies, and urban tree canopy. Not content to rest on previous achievements, the city has also emphasized green infrastructure and other impressive initiatives in its newest planning policies. City officials see many reasons to integrate natural ecosystems into Austin’s urban fabric. “Cities like Austin serve as engines for innovative and forward-thinking policies such as the Biophilic Cities Network,” said District 7 Council Member Leslie Pool, who chairs the Council’s Open Space, Environment & Sustainability Committee. “Our community has historically placed high value on preserving and promoting our natural environment.” The programs, policies, and projects are numerous and continue expanding as Austin looks toward an even more nature-ful future. Many of [...]

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Designing Cities for All Seasons

By |May 12th, 2016|Categories: Ideas & Tools|

By Kevin Fraser It is May, and spring has officially arrived in Charlottesville, Virginia. The feeling is palpable: birds chirping, bees buzzing, and residents venturing outside in droves. For much of the planet, however, a different scene is playing out. In the Southern Hemisphere, the recent equinox was autumnal, beckoning an impending winter. For those inhabiting northern regions, the aforementioned spring display may seem a fanciful notion; a yet-distant reality, groundhog predictions notwithstanding. Which begs the question: what design interventions exist to leverage the unique aspects of cooler climates and make the shorter, less hospitable days more palatable? Skating, snowshoeing, and skiing are undoubtedly ingrained winter pastimes throughout much of Canada and the United States. But all of these could be considered destination activities in that they are likely to behoove a car trip and travel to a resort, chalet, or ice rink. For urban dwellers, besides the latter – [...]

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Daylighting from Different Angles

By |April 10th, 2016|Categories: Design, Ideas & Tools|

By Katherine Gloede Blurring sometimes rigid boundaries between indoors and outdoors is key to biophilic design. Maximization of natural light, or daylighting, is a key ingredient ripe with obvious benefits and unique opportunities. Natural light reduces daytime energy use and fulfills our inherent attraction to affiliate with nature. This particular connection with the outdoors improves our circadian rhythm and brain function. A the University of Copenhagen, the Green Lighthouse uses daylighting to reach carbon neutrality. Completed in 2009, the student and faculty center is cylindrical, allowing sunlight to penetrate glazing at different angles throughout the day. At the building’s center, a long spiral staircase is bathed in sunlight from dawn until dusk. Solar shading ensures that, while light disperses, the building is not overheated during summer. Beyond reduced energy dependence, daylighting with angular intentionality puts ancient knowledge to use—our foremost calendar and timepiece is the sun. Around the same time [...]

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The 606 Chicago

By |November 29th, 2015|Categories: Ideas & Tools|

by Megan Friedman In a city infamous for its towering skyscrapers and ability to spearhead industrial innovation, Chicago has recently turned toward reclaiming unused infrastructure and developing new urban public green spaces. One of these remarkable projects is the 606--a 2.7 mile, community-centric bike trail and park system. Designed as a lush green playground, the trail acts as a community connector between four neighborhoods. It provides an alternative (and perhaps more convenient) uninterrupted commute through the city. Historically, Chicago was a central port for goods across America. Seemingly all trains crossed through the city--connecting the eastern side of the country with the western portion. Following the city’s burgeoning growth, rail lines were elevated to avoid conflict between residents and crossings. One of these lines, parallel to Bloomingdale Avenue is today the Bloomingdale Trail--the pedestrian and bike trail portion of the 606. When traffic on the line was re-routed after little [...]

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