The Role of Green Spaces in Building Planning and Design

Green spaces are important for the well-being of people living in urban areas. They provide a sense of calm and peace that is otherwise lost in the hustle and bustle of city life. 

Green spaces also help reduce stress levels, promote physical activity, and improve mental health. They contribute to a more sustainable environment by providing natural habitats for wildlife and biodiversity. Yet with the need to plan for higher population density in our cities, there are challenges in sourcing the space for effective urban greening.

Should we place greater emphasis on delivering green spaces in buildings?

Green space improves the lives of all

Green space is a vital component of any city, town, or village. It provides a place for people to relax, enjoy nature, and get some fresh air. But green space also offers many benefits that may not be as obvious.

Studies show that there are huge human benefits to green spaces. They can reduce stress, reduce violence, improve concentration, and deliver improvements in physical health. 

A study of vegetated and un-vegetated apartment buildings in Chicago found that vegetated spaces reduce crime by half. Other studies have found that greening workplaces improved productivity.

Roads are safer, economies perform better, and children develop with fewer mental health issues.

Green space can be included in all buildings

Buildings are not just a place for people to live or work. They should also be a place for people to enjoy and relax. We can design our city infrastructure, including its buildings, to better deliver to the needs of the people who occupy them. And there is no building that cannot be designed to incorporate green spaces, including:

  • Residential

  • Commercial

  • Industrial

  • Educational

  • Healthcare

All buildings can incorporate gardens, communal areas, trees, and plants. We can design for efficient use of space that includes interior and rooftop gardens and galls frontages to allow light to flood in. Effective deployment of natural materials and incorporation of green areas can help to reduce energy use, improve water drainage, and deliver greater sustainability.

We can include many types of green space in buildings

When we think of urban greening, we mostly think of parks, playgrounds, roadside vegetation, and neighborhood gardens. All these elements are vital, but we could add much more green space by the more intelligent design of our buildings to include space that is designated for plant life and open areas. 

Our planning might include some green spaces that are private, like a courtyard or rooftop garden, and others that are public, like parks or plazas. With careful consideration and design, greening our buildings and cityscape can:

  • Provide an aesthetic appeal to our cities and increase curb appeal

  • Provide a natural environment for people who work in buildings to enjoy during their lunch break or after work hours

  • Be used as a buffer zone between buildings to reduce noise pollution from traffic and other sources of sound

  • Clean the air by removing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen back into the atmosphere

A few ways in which we can green our buildings include:

  • Vertical gardens

  • Roof gardens

  • Living walls

  • Atria with trees and plants

  • Courtyards and plazas

Architects have a duty of care to design green spaces in buildings

Green spaces are an important part of our environment. They provide us with a space to relax and enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds us. It is important that we not only have green spaces in our parks, but also in the buildings we live, work, and learn in.

The benefits of green spaces are well documented and include improved physical and mental health, greater focus and productivity, and environmental benefits. Urban greening projects help to improve the sustainability of our cities. 

For all these reasons, architects must be more mindful about how they design buildings to include green spaces for their occupants. Even small pockets of plants or balconies with greenery help to deliver the many benefits of green space.

At ACB Consulting, we are committed to helping improve the communities in which we live, work, and play – including how they are conceived, designed and created. To learn more or to join the conversation, contact ACB Consulting.

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