Biophilic Living

SWANSEA

In a time when we are facing an unprecedented global climate emergency and experiencing a quick growth in urban population, we must approach design in a much more collaborative way. Biophilia means “love for life and the natural world”. Biophilic design is a holistic approach to design that puts people and nature in the centre, aiming to restore people’s connection to the natural world in the modern built environment.

The proposal re-thinks the way we live in cities and aims to provide a template to transform urban living by offering a deeper understanding of what conscious dwelling means. The project has brought together a multidisciplinary team, with specific input from Swansea and Cardiff Universities, that have pooled their expertise with the aim of testing, learning and disseminating. Its materialisation has been possible thanks to Welsh Government funding under the Innovative Housing Programme (IHP3) and the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act (WfGA).

 

  • Client Hacer Developments in conjunction with Pobl
  • Programme Due 2024
  • Budget £14m

This regeneration project emerges from a responsible approach to Swansea city living, focussing on place-making and being part of the delivery of a new piece of public realm. The proposal re-uses an existing 1960’s four storey concrete framed building, refurbished and extended to provide a mix of uses including retail, commercial, affordable residential and a community vertical urban farm. Due to its sustainable location, it is a car-free scheme that promotes active travelling, making special emphasis on walking and cycling.

The building’s form is the result of urban and structural constraints that required the massing to step back and upwards to link with the new built tower. This resulted in a series of south facing rooftop terraces, connected to the 50 residential units, which unlocked the opportunity for green infrastructure to thrive and to facilitate a solution for Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS). The central corridor layout allows for symmetry in the residential floors and means all dwellings, each one with a dedicated balcony space, have either east or west orientation and benefit from daylight and stunning views over Swansea Bay.

The proposal offers an all-electric solution based on renewable energy generated on site, through PV panels and glazed Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV). The community energy strategy is to service the various aspects of the scheme, which ensures that residents and tenants can enjoy the benefits from the generated and stored electricity. This low-energy/low-carbon solution has three main innovation elements that work collaboratively, including a common ambient temperature energy loop, a shared array of high efficiency air-source heat pumps, and in-apartment heat pumps linked to a large thermal store.

In addition to this, there is the opportunity to capture CO2 from stale air from the office spaces and release it into the hydroponic growing spaces. The building is understood as an active part of the urban ecosystem and food is central to it. Food brings us together and is an essential part of our survival and identity. Affordable, quality organic food will be grown on rooftops and greenhouses at residents’ doorstep. The Urban Farm and the creation of a Community Interest Company (CIC) will act as both facilitator and provider in a collaborative co-living model and will create new jobs.