Using biophilic design as a tool for restorative architecture : towards a wellness centre in Durban.
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The urban environment we are faced with today, is a built-up landscape that is minimally connected to the natural environment. Modern urban design has resulted in planning models that tend to prioritise design for vehicles rather than people. The buildings that populate our cities, do not respond to local people and their needs, and create a vast disconnection between people and the natural environment. The culmination of these elements is an environment that induces stress and fatigue and could be detrimental to human health and overall wellbeing. The city of Durban is no exception in the category of a concrete jungle, with a glaring absence in restorative architecture as well as the unconvincing connection between the natural environment and the built environment. There is a great need for restorative spaces within the city, that promotes healing and provides relief for the body, mind and soul, helping to attain human wellness. This thesis explores how the influence of biophilia improves architectural design and subsequently enhances overall health and wellbeing. It examines the various ways in which the natural environment can be implemented within the built environment through biophilic design, which subsequently creates an environment that permits and promotes healing. Restorative architecture is explored through the lens of biophilia and genius loci with a methodology that includes: an in depth analysis of existing literature, architectural case studies, precedent studies and semi structured interviews with healthcare and wellness practitioners. From the literature review, there were three fundamental themes that emerged, that being: 1. Connect, which deals with the site or building’s connectivity to the context in a physical and visual way, it also explores how people are connected to the built environment, natural environment and each other. 2. Captivate, which deals with how the design of the facility stimulates the senses and captivates the interest of the user, for example, mobility and wayfinding, prospect and refuge and the use of natural colours and textures. 3. Create is about creating a sense of place or belonging, in turn, creating a sense of wellness. These themes are carried through the paper, ultimately resulting in a set of guidelines that support the design of a wellness centre in the Durban CBD, which is in line with the aims and objectives as well as provides a solution to the research problem outlined.