Biophilic Design: Homes That Connect to Nature
Biophilia is a term coined by German-born American psychoanalyst Eric Fromm and later popularized by American biologist, naturalist, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edward O. Wilson. In his eponymous 1984 book, Wilson proposed that “our natural affinity for life—biophilia—is the very essence of our humanity and binds us to all other living species.” Biophilic design is an extension of Wilson’s hypothesis: that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life. Proponents of the movement assert that applying biophilia to the built environment enhances creativity and improves health and well-being. Herewith, Luxury Defined presents five homes that reestablish the dialogue between humans and the natural world.
Minawetu in West Tisbury, Massachusetts
Minawetu, or “Island Home,” is one of the most breathtaking properties in New England. The newly built, 3.3-acre beachfront estate overlooking Vineyard Sound and the Elizabeth Islands on the North Shore of Martha’s Vineyard is a showcase of biophilic design. In essence, Minewetu is a platform for a botanical garden, which grows on and around the house. The landscaping is a blend of open, natural settings complemented by specimen trees and rolling grassy meadows. At the entrance, enormous granite stepping-stones bridge two waterfalls cascading to a lower-level pond. The home’s abundant use of glass is in accordance with a key tenet of biophilic design: visually connecting the occupants with the natural environment to enhance creativity and improve health and well-being. Dramatic walls of windows link the home’s social spaces and five private suites with the beauty of the outdoors. A glass circular staircase rises to the solar-panelled green roof with an ipe wood pool deck and native grass lawns. A weathered stone staircase provides easy access to a white sandy beach below.
The Urban Mountain III in Zhubei City
This unique three-bedroom, three-bathroom residence has a spectacular location in The Urban Mountain III, a luxurious, eco-friendly urban development by Banmu Tang Environmental Integration Group, an architectural firm that advocates restoring the natural landscape in the built environment. With a green philosophy at its heart, the building and its verdant grounds take inspiration from the topography and ecology of Litou Mountain. Lush, high-density vertical planting on the outside of the contemporary high-rise structure forms a beautiful, natural barrier against the elements. Red mud walls absorb humidity, while wood floors lend to the natural ambience. The interiors are flooded with sunlight and open to tranquil, tree-lined balconies. Edible plants, wild herbs, flowers, and fruit trees grace the surrounding gardens. An abundance of trees and plants provide a corridor for wildlife. The on-site permaculture farm evokes the rural lifestyle. Nature trails, a fitness center, yoga and meditation rooms are further amenities. The property is within Hsinchu’s high-speed rail zone, within easy reach of the bustling city of Zhubei, though this serene oasis feels like a world away.
Villa Mosca Bianca in Lesa, Novara, Italy
This magnificent lake house on the shores of Italy’s Lago Maggiore offers residents and guests a haven of tranquility and connection to nature. The creative vision of Design Haus Liberty, Villa Mosca Bianca’s architecture and breathtaking views have been featured in architectural journals and advertising for international luxury brands. Set within a pine forest, the villa’s terraced gardens were carefully carved to capture 180-degree views of the lake, the mountains, and the sunset. The internal living spaces open to a series of terraces and the surrounding landscape beyond. The core of the house is a Zen-like garden atrium with bamboo trees. Above is a vast skylight that floods the interior with natural light and visually connects the surrounding rooms and central staircase. The atrium also serves as a passive air and rainwater collection system for the villa. Other sustainable features include solar panels and heat pumps, which produce 60 percent of the home’s energy. The villa‘s undulating perimeter and projecting, finger-like terraces are ideal for yoga, swimming, gardening, reading, and alfresco dining. An organic fruit and vegetable garden and old Lebanon Cedars add to the allure, as does the serene lakefront setting, just 28 miles of Milan Malpensa international airport. Milan city center—Italy’s business and fashion capital—is 50 miles away.
Luxury Hideaway in Tamarindo, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Homesite 27-E is a minimalist modern beach house in the private, gated eco-resort community of Senderos in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. WR Architects designed the home with a modern aesthetic and environmentally sensitive ethos. The 4,040-square-foot villa is built into a lush hillside to capture views of the rainforest and the mountains. The fluid, light-filled interiors, by Senderos Natural Modern Design, seamlessly integrate the indoor environment with the great outdoors. The open floor plan invites entertaining with a vast lounge, dining area, and gourmet kitchen. There are four bedrooms and four-and-a-half bathrooms. The highlight is the Hollywood Hills-style pool house, which traverses the swimming pool and the outdoor living space. It’s currently configured as a one-bedroom, one-bathroom guest house, but could serve as a gym, office, or tropical entertainment space. The Senderos community is just minutes away from shops, restaurants, and Playa Tamarindo—Costa Rica’s surf capital.
Villa Igea in Porto Rotondo, Italy
Villa Igea, a contemporary coastal villa in Porto Rotondo takes its name from Hygieia, the Greek goddess of health. Celebrated Milanese architect Gianni Gamondi designed the home in harmony with the lush Mediterranean landscape of Sardinia’s Emerald Coast. The abundant green spaces also include a central courtyard/winter garden, a swimming pool with a lawned terrace and two-thirds of an acre of private parkland. There are five luxurious en suite bedrooms, including a lavish owner’s suite with a Jacuzzi. The heart of the home is a spacious living area with a media lounge, sitting room, dining area, and two fully equipped kitchens with exposed stone walls. It opens to a wide, covered veranda with a spectacular 180-degree view of Golfo Aranci and the Costa Smeralda. The home is a short stroll from the Spiaggia dei Sassi and the center of Porto Rotondo, with its designer boutiques, haute restaurants, and glamorous nightlife.
This story originally appeared on Luxury Defined by Christie’s International Real Estate.