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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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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Trail design guidelines for children and families

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

by Julie Murphy When it comes to connecting children to nature in cities, trails are vital. Trails, pathways, and greenways are like arteries of nature in cities. They connect neighborhoods, parks, destinations, and create opportunities for meandering exploration. They may be destinations for runners and cyclists as well as bird watchers and hikers. So why focus particularly on kids and families? Today’s kids need nature more than ever (see the Children and Nature Network website and Richard Louv’s book Last Child in the Woods, in the resources section below, for more).Most cities and park systems have lots of trails, but children and families don’t often use them. Young children have particular needs and designing trails with them in mind can help make the trails more accessible [...]

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Biophilic Bronx: Four Great Places to Hike in New York City’s Greenest Borough

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

by Katherine Gloede Aside from Central Park, foliage and forest is probably not the first imagery that accompanies mention of America’s biggest concrete jungle. But according to the Trust for Public Land, New York City has more than 38,000 park acres making up almost 20% of the City’s total land area, more than any other major U.S. city. Of the Five Boroughs, the Bronx is the most covered in green space with parkland alone comprising nearly a quarter of land cover. “The Bronx is home to two of the city's largest parks where you can visit and enjoy miles of hiking, history, and beautiful vistas,” says Professor Mary Leou of Environmental Conservation Education at New York University. Here are four unique experiences across the Bronx [...]

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