biophilic cities: inspiration from milan design week 2022

in biophilic cities

At Milan Design Week, installations often include natural elements. This year, some of them showed particularly inspiring ideas that would be applicable to urban design, ideas to bring more biophilic design in the cityscape.
Let’s explore!

green urban pockets

Adding more greenery to urban areas is a top biophilic design priority. The how depends on the particular case and requires some creative thinking, especially when the available space is scarce. Speaking of creative thinking…

Floating Forest was exactly what it said: a planted area floating on a body of water. The greenery was lush and varied, giving a real sense of natural richness. Walking paths were defined by tall trees, which also created an overall sheltered atmosphere. Observation points here and there opened a different point of view over the surroundings while preventing the (rather small) space from feeling claustrophobic.

The structure was a mix of wood and mirror. The mirrored covering helped the forest blend with its surroundings and reflected the water beautifully, becoming a living artwork for those passing by. Wood added warmth inside the planted area while balancing out the mirrored surface from outside.

View of the floating forest from the outside.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Stefano Boeri Interiors (opened in a new window/tab) - Ph: Fuorisalone (opened in a new window/tab)
View of the floating forest blending with other greenery nearby.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Stefano Boeri Interiors (opened in a new window/tab)
View of the floating forest from above.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Stefano Boeri Interiors (opened in a new window/tab)
View of the water reflection on the mirrored covering.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Stefano Boeri Interiors (opened in a new window/tab) - Ph: Alissa Zaouali
View of the lush greenery.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Stefano Boeri Interiors (opened in a new window/tab)

foraging in the city

Flowers are a beautiful addition to any installation, but what happens to them at the end of the event?

Mohd showroom was decorated with greenery and flowers, and visitors got involved in taking things down. On the last day of the show, visitors could pick those flowers and make themselves a bouquet to bring home. A brilliant way of introducing the bucolic experience of foraging flowers into the urban experience of the Design Week!

View of the showroom's flowerbeds.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Mohd (opened in a new window/tab) by Studio Pepe (opened in a new window/tab)
Close-up view of a flowerbed.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Mohd (opened in a new window/tab) by Studio Pepe (opened in a new window/tab)
View of the furniture surrounded by greenery.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Mohd (opened in a new window/tab) by Studio Pepe (opened in a new window/tab)
View of the showroom's greenery and flowers.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Mohd (opened in a new window/tab) by Studio Pepe (opened in a new window/tab)
View of the furniture surrounded by greenery.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Mohd (opened in a new window/tab) by Studio Pepe (opened in a new window/tab)

multi-sensory nature

Speaking of biophilic design, we often mention that one thing that makes nature so unique is its ability to offer multi-sensory experiences.

AquaSymphony brought a natural multi-sensory experience to the city, livening up an empty warehouse. Lush greenery created a rainforest ambiance, defining a path for visitors to walk around. Water was incorporated too and in an unusual way: as a music generator.

Placed on top of handpans, water drops created random yet harmonious melodies when tapping on the instrument. The water feature then doubled as an instrument, filling the space with subtle music as well as the sound of water.

View of the water feature surrounded by lush greenery.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Biohabitat Foundation (opened in a new window/tab) – Ph: Riccardo Diotallevi
Close-up of the water feature.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Biohabitat Foundation (opened in a new window/tab) – Ph: Riccardo Diotallevi
Close-up of the water feature.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Biohabitat Foundation (opened in a new window/tab) – Ph: Riccardo Diotallevi
Greenery in the space.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Biohabitat Foundation (opened in a new window/tab)
Close-up of the water feature.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Biohabitat Foundation (opened in a new window/tab)

These installations are all living examples of how nature and biophilic experiences can be incorporated into urban settings.
Floating Forest shows how to find space for refreshing green islands in existing urban areas. Mohd’s initiative suggests how public flowerbeds and gardens could become more interactive, offering the opportunity to pick flowers, herbs, or fruits. And AquaSymphony offers a new take on water features.

Making a city more biophilic is a process that begins with smaller additions, taking advantage of what’s already there. Events and temporary installations often come up with gorgeous solutions, so why not start by making some of them permanent? There’s always a way to incorporate more nature into the city!

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