4 ways architecture and design turn to nature

The restorative powers of green space should not be underestimated – here’s how major projects around the world are welcoming the natural world and promoting well-being in the process.

Earthy-toned living room in Penthouse 09 by Banda

Architecture and design no longer leave nature for the great outdoors. Instead, it is welcomed into our homes with elements such as living walls, natural light, organic materials, colors and textures. “There are huge psychological and physical benefits associated with healthier, greener homes,” says Edo Mapelli Mozzi, founder of London-based real estate and design firm Banda.

Samuel Bay, creative director of London-based design and development studio Echlin, agrees: “Many studies prove that reaching for, and even looking at, nature can do wonders for our well-being and mental health.” It lists benefits including, “reduce anxiety, improve sleep, clean air, and help fight depression.”

Inspired to prioritize your well-being through your home’s connection to nature? Here, we characterize four projects that do just that.

1. Taking a Harmonious Approach: August Moon by SPAN Architecture

Nestled on the rugged coast of the western Gulf of Maine, the nature-drenched August Moon was once the summer retreat of New York socialite Brooke Astor. Today, it’s a young family’s place to de-stress, with every aspect of the property—including the original café and cottage designed by Robert Pattinson in the 1960s—recently renovated and modernized.

“The symbiotic relationship between nature and the built environment—the biophilia—is at the heart of August Moon design,” says Karen Stoneley, co-founder of SPAN Architecture. “Appreciating the surroundings and allowing their charm to flow through the spaces of the house was at the core of what we wanted to achieve. Ensuring a sense of calm and being able to enjoy the simple things was a pivotal inspiration.”

The newly built main residence sits within the saddle of the landscape, comprising of several volumes including the master bedroom jutting into the trees and a hidden living area at ocean level. “The house unfolds along the landscape in the same way that many small bridges across the property take people on a journey,” says Stonelli.Nature has given us the coolest tools—it was just a question of how to tie them into all of our designs.”

2. Creating the Quiet Richness: Panda 09 Penthouse

“Once you enter the space, your shoulders drop and you feel relaxed,” says Banda founder Edo Mapelli Mozzi of the multidisciplinary property practice’s latest venture. This light-filled penthouse on the 5th floor of Notting Hill, London, overlooks a garden court and offers an additional 2,300 square feet of outdoor space through its rooftop terrace.

Inside, Banda Design Studio used a soothing palette of natural materials, textures and colors. Combined with earthy hues, moss plantings, and olive trees, the walls are finished with highly sustainable, finely curated clay plaster. “The clay is 100 percent natural and non-toxic,” says Mapelli Mozi. “Humidity and temperature-regulating properties contribute to the health and comfort of the environment.”

The quiet and contemporary space also includes a warm, nature-inspired feel with a mohair green sofa and soft sage-colored wool on the walls. “We’ve thought long and hard about how families want to live in the moment, especially after periods of isolation,” adds Mapelli Muzi. “Being in one place with nature at home is more on the mind than ever before.”

3. Prioritizing Communication: Trancoso Pool House by Ninmar

The interior merges with the exterior in this pool house with guest accommodations in Trancoso, Brazil. “We wanted to go back to basics, to disconnect by reconnecting with nature,” says Gianluca Nincini, co-founder and director of design studio Ninmar. “In the psychology of architecture, the visual relationship between interior, exterior, and nature can reduce stress and produce more positive emotional functioning,” he explains.

Ninemar achieved this through the use of large sliding doors that open onto a mature garden filled with exotic plants native to the area. Meanwhile, natural light – vital to improving mental health and well-being, Nencini points out – streams into guest accommodations through a screen made of local eucalyptus sticks. This design feature not only increases privacy, but also provides an environmentally friendly way to regulate temperatures and promotes a sense of calm.

Results? Nencini says it’s a space that “elevates the spirit and therefore the mental health of anyone who uses the space.”

4. Unexpected Green Solutions: Knightsbridge Mews by Echlin

The remodeling of the Mews home in Knightsbridge, London prioritizes nature by introducing light, a living wall, and natural materials. “This project is located right in the heart of Knightsbridge. Previously, homes like this would have relied on neighboring Hyde Park to tick the box when it came to accessing outdoor space,” says Samuel Bay, creative director of architectural design and development studio Echlin in London.

“However, with an increased awareness of nature’s impact on our mental health, we felt it was essential for home architecture to bring the outside into and even into the home.” This includes a 20-foot-high living wall for greenery; eight skylights to bring in natural light; Houseplants for better air quality and material plate brings a natural feel.

“All of these features combine to create a serene home that replaces traditional charm with sanctuary-like aesthetics,” says Bay. “That, for us, is the modern sense of luxury.”

This story originally appeared on Luxury Defined by Christie’s International Real Estate.