How to Incorporate & Define “Beauty” in Building Design for River Bend Farm

The Living Building Challenge (the standard to which the buildings at River Bend Farm will adhere) requires consideration of "Beauty" in design plans. The intent of this requirement is " recognize the need for beauty as a precursor to caring enough to preserve, conserve, and serve the greater good." --Living Future Institute. To thoroughly explore this, Kaplan Thompson Architects (of the the four architects collaborating on the project at The Ecology School) hosted a Biophilic Design Charrette on June 1 which included 15+ alumni, farmers, ecologists, and educators who discussed and provided directions on how The Ecology School's new buildings and educational site would reflect natural elements of the surrounding agroecological farm.

Biophilia is defined as the innate, genetically determined affiliation of human beings to nature and other living organisms. Modern development forces structures into nature often creating harsh, ugly physical environments that are aesthetically displeasing and unacceptable. Biophilic exploration deliberately incorporates nature into building design considering questions like: How do we design to adapt to the seasons? How do we create spaces for reflection? How can we increase levels of sensory variability in the environment to include variation in light, sound, and temperature? How do we connect back to nature? Feedback from this exploration will be incorporated into plans for River Bend Farm as the design process continues.