Discover how we champion the essence of the natural world in our designs, transitioning from traditional architecture to fostering community growth with Nature-Inspired Design.
Since the dawn industrial revolution, when the power of coal was harnessed to release energy beneficial to the growth of Western societies, Nature has been used as a fuel for economic, social, and technological growth. It became thought of as material for human consumption.
Today, the long history of the domination of Nature is recognized as a tragic mistake. From human-induced climate change, to biodiversity loss, to ocean acidification, the scars that previous generations have made upon our planet has taught us a valuable lesson: Nature, the Earth, must be used as a source of inspiration for the flourishing of all life, rather than misconceived as a bottomless pit of resources or energy. Nature must be integrated into our lives, rather than excluded and dominated. We look towards Nature-inspired designs.
Embracing Nature-Inspired Design
At PGE and our preferred partner PG Design Studio, the call to integrate Nature's shapes, designs, flows, systems, and processes into our projects drives creativity and innovation. Designers and technologists work together to champion Nature-inspired design throughout the building construction process. The result is a built form and urban design that takes lessons from the planet around us to create better buildings and spaces where Nature-inspired design – and people – can truly flow.
Phototropism in Building Design: 308 King St. N
For example, take 308 King St. N, a masterpiece of Nature-inspired design. Here, a process called phototropism has shaped the design and construction of its towers. Phototropism is generally defined as the way in which a plant orients or ‘bends’ itself to respond to light. This was a perfect model for our new buildings and units at 308 King, whereby each tower is strategically and intentionally oriented to maximize light exposure for residents at all times. Screens for units have been placed to accentuate phototropic effects in line with Nature’s same systems. Even the podiums of the towers have been designed to mimic the roots of a growing plant: the earth meets the sky in a way that provides stability, but allows for open air amenity spaces and flows of people, such as a dog-park.
Another exemplar, 143 Columbia St. W, moves from earth to water in its nature-inspired design approach. This building took its inspiration from the patterns that waves make on local bodies, mimicking a ‘surface wave’ by incorporating longitudinal and transverse waves into the built form. Similarly, 20 University Avenue takes Niagara Falls and the pattern of waterfalls as its inspiration, shaping the building envelope and its built form.
The Broader Implications of Integrating Nature
What is the point of integrating Nature into our buildings? Not only are there lessons to be learned from the shapes and processes resulting from millions of years of evolutionary refinement, but the integration of Nature is inspirational: it shapes the exterior and interior of every space, thereby creating a positive impact for the users of that space with more light, flexibility, accessibility, and a sereneness emulating the quiet winds and water of the Earth.
Benefits Beyond Aesthetics
In decades past, our society prided itself on a separation from, and control of, Nature. Today, we are proud to combine the lessons of Nature-inpired design into our architecture and the most fundamental fabric of our projects. Our goal for Canada is to become net-zero for carbon emissions by 2050, and the construction and form of new developments and homes play an essential role in meeting this noble and ambitious target. Not only does Nature have lessons for us, but it is also our role and responsibility – even if newly understood in our lifetimes – to safeguard and protect it, so future generations may enjoy its beauty and gifts as well.