Non-Visual Connection with Nature

THE EXPERIENCE

A space with a good non-visual Connection with nature feels fresh and well balanced; the ambient conditions are perceived as complex and variable but at the same time familiar and comfortable, whereby sounds, aromas, and textures are reminiscent of being outdoors in nature.

Non-Rhythmic Sensory
Stimuli are stochastic and ephemeral connections with nature hat may be analyzed statistically but may not be predicted precisely

ROOTS OF THE PATTERN

The non-visual Connection with nature pattern has evolved from research on reductions in systolic blood pressure and stress hormones; impact of sound and vibration on cognitive performance; and perceived improvements in mental health and tranquility as a result of non-visual sensory interactions with non-threatening nature.Each sensory system has a vast body of research to support it; here we provide just a taste.

Auditory. Research shows that exposure to nature sounds, when compared to urban or office noise, accelerates physiological and psychological restoration up to 37% faster after a psychological stressor and reduces cognitive fatigue and helps motivation

Olfactory. Our olfactory system processes scent directly in the brain, which can trigger very powerful memories. Traditional practices have long used plant oils to calm or energize people.

Haptic. Pet therapy, where companionship and the act of petting and feeling the fur of domesticated animals, is known to have profound calming effects on patients.Gardening and horticulture activities have shown to engender environmental stewardship among children, reduce self-reported fatigue while maintaining joint flexibility among adults and reduce perception of pain among senior populations with arthritis.
The act of touching real plant life, versus synthetic plants, has also shown to induce relaxation through a change in cerebral blood flow rate.

Gustatory. Tasting is yet another way of experiencing nature and learning about our environment. While adults are often curious or fearful of edible plants and herbs, consider the familiar habit of infants and toddlers putting found objects in their mouth – they are seeking information.

WORKInG WITH THe PATTeRn

The objective of the non-visual Connection with nature pattern is to provide an environment that uses sound, scent, touch and possibly even taste to engage the individual in a manner that helps reduce stress and improve perceived physical and mental health. These senses can be experienced separately, although the experience is intensified and the health effect is compounded if multiple senses are consistently engaged together.
Design considerations for establishing a strong non-visual connection with nature:
• Prioritize nature sounds over urban sounds
• Design for non-visual connections that can be easily accessed
from one or multiple locations, and in such a way that allows daily
engagement for 5 to 20 minutes at a time
• Integrate non-visual connections with other aspects of the design
program
• A single intervention that can be experienced in multiple ways can
enhance the impacts
• Design for visual and non-visual connections to be experienced
simultaneously to maximize potential positive health responses

While some patterns are more evident in some spaces than others, non-visual Connections with nature are experienced throughout. The integration of water and natural ventilation with the architecture is central to the non-visual experience, supporting a seamless connection between indoor and outdoor spaces, and between the building and the surrounding natural landscape. Solar heat penetrates at distinct locations, the whispering gallery resonates sounds of nature and people, and gardens of rosemary, myrtles, other fragrant plants surround thepremises. The extensive use of water fountains creates a microclimate – the space sounds and feels cooler – while stone floors and handrails with water channels cool the feet and hands through conductance.

Examples
Naturally occurring:
• Fragrant herbs and flowers
• Songbirds
• Flowing water
• Weather (rain, wind, hail)
• natural ventilation (operable windows, breezeways)
• Textured materials (stone, wood, fur)
• Crackling fire/fireplace
• Sun patches
• Warm/cool surfaces simulated or Constructed
• Digital simulations of nature sounds
• mechanically released natural plant oils
• Highly textured fabrics/textiles that mimic natural material textures
• Audible and/or physically accessible water feature
• Music with fractal qualities
• Horticulture/gardening, including edible plants
• Domesticated animals/pets
• Honeybee apiary


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