Design of the Brock Environmental Center Connects People to Nature

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Much research and thought went into planning how the Brock Environmental Center would be designed to target the Living Building Challenge (LBC) certification. The Health Petal of the LBC requires that a project be designed to include elements that nurture the innate human attraction to natural systems and processes. Each of the six established Biophilic Design Elements must be represented for every 2,000 m2 of the project:

  1. Environmental features
  2. Natural shapes and forms
  3. Natural patterns and processes
  4. Light and space
  5. Place-based relationships
  6. Evolved human-nature relationships

This post will explain which natural features influenced the location and design of the building during the planning process of the project.

Building location on site

When surveying the site, the existing trees to the North, especially the Loblolly pines, influenced the siting. The team wanted people on the porch to feel a connection to the shore to the South but also the maritime forest to the North. Live oaks and pines have begun to fill in the portions that were once a forest, regenerating the site.

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In order to meet the requirements of the Health Petal, many environmental features were considered when designing the Brock Environmental Center.  The following list includes features that influence how humans feel about their surroundings and how they work more productively in a healthier environment:

  • Color
  • Water
  • Air
  • Sunlight
  • Plants
  • Animals
  • Natural Materials
  • Views and vistas
  • Façade greening
  • Geology and landscape
  • Habitats and ecosystems
  • Fire

brock environmental center color design

In addition, natural shapes and forms also influenced the design of the building.  Straight lines do not exist in nature, therefore natural shapes and boundaries were used to blend the structure of the facility with the natural surroundings.

  • Botanical motifs
  • Tree and columnar supports
  • Animal motifs
  • Shells and spirals
  • Egg, oval and tubular forms
  • Arches, vaults and domes
  • Simulation of natural features
  • Biomorphy
  • Geomorphology
  • Biomimicry

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Design of the Brock Center

In three dimensions, the form of the conference room and outdoor pavilion emerged referencing a gull wing, an oyster shell and furled sail. This part of the building was important as it is the first element that visitors will see as they approach the building. The roof design of the education pavilion represents both the gathering of rainwater and of the community.

To prepare the building to be net-zero, the total planning and design phase of this project took two years. Now the Center is projected to be complete in the fall of 2014.

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