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How to Integrate Digital Nature into Your Architectural Design

By Maria Lorena Lehman — Get more articles like this sent to your email HERE.

‍Image Credit: © Werner22brigitte | Pixabay

There are times within an architectural design project when digital nature can accomplish goals that actual physical nature cannot. For example, within hospital settings where cleanliness is of prime importance, digital nature can be brought inside. You see, digital nature can be used in three unique ways to enhance an environment that serves to empower the occupant that inhabits its space. The following are three techniques for you to “pull” from physical nature, to create digital nature that presents the “real-thing” in entirely new and innovative ways.

  •  Flexible Nature: What if you could see flowers within an office space during the winter? Could digital nature be used to bring greenery indoors during seasonal changes? With flexible nature, you as a designer, can innovate and juxtapose boundaries between interior and exterior spaces. But that is not all – flexible nature can be used to bring nature from one part of the world to another. Just imagine seeing a beautiful species of flower from Japan in the United States – all created with digital nature.
  • Abstract Nature: Physical nature has within it qualities that appeal to people, such as the various patterns, colors, and motions that are embedded within its make-up and behavior. What if, you as a designer, could pull from nature’s qualities to create abstract nature that showcases patters, colors, and motions that are organic, like physical nature? Again, this abstraction of nature can be used in hospital settings, elderly care facilities, and so on. The key is to pull from the qualities of physical nature – to create abstract digital nature so people can benefit from nature in setting where they may not otherwise have access to the real thing.
  • Interactive/Adaptive Nature: By using digital nature within a design, the digital nature can grow and synchronize to functional activities going on within an environment. For example, within a hospital patient recovery room, what if a digital plant could grow and bloom to mirror the patient’s healing process? Such interactive or adaptive nature can serve to foster and support functions going on within an environment.

As you may imagine, the above three techniques by which to use digital nature can expand and leverage the benefits that real physical nature provides. Use your creativity and innovative genius to design with these and other uses of digital nature. Of course, actual physical nature is priceless, but there are times within an architectural design project when digital nature can do what physical nature cannot do. So as an architectural designer, remember this important option.


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Maria: I came across your website through a reference in today's Architect Weekly ezine and am delighted I did. I'll bookmark your site and check back often. I read the first article and then the second and thirty minutes later realized how much time had passed. I've been practicing for thirty years and have always missed the stimulation of academia. I find each of your brief dissertations sort of like a day in design studio. Thanks for the inspiration.

Ron Ward
AI Group Design
I am excited to see you touch a vein of values in architecture, I have been chasing myself for years. Your depth of involvement in these very deep subjects is really beautiful and passionately dealt with and well written. Sound, color and value, shape, texture, scale, smell.... all definitive measures of the spaces we should be alert to. [...] I will savor the rest of your investigation of sensuality in architecture. I'm Glad I found you.

Dennis McLaughlin
McLaughlin Architect
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Maria Lorena Lehman is an award-winning visionary author, designer, and educator from the United States. Maria holds a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and a Master in Design with Distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

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