Biophilic Design in a Pennsylvania Home


| 5/30/2013 11:42:00 AM


On most evenings, architect and land planner Helena van Vliet carries her canvas tote to Kimberton Whole Foods just a block from her home and packs it with ingredients for the night’s meal. She prefers buying fresh food daily, never filling her compact, under-the-counter refrigerator.

The convenience of living next door to a natural foods marketplace is only one reason van Vliet bought her home in Kimberton Village, Pennsylvania. Raised in a small town in Germany, van Vliet’s 100-plus-year-old home reminds her of the simple existence of her European youth.

biophilic home exterior
Photo By Barry Halkin

“Living in the village offers me an integrated lifestyle in a community,” van Vliet says. “I can walk everywhere I need to go. Connecting these local conveniences with high-tech information services and systems necessary to run a business makes for a less stressful, more productive life with a much lower carbon footprint to boot.”

While the village life may not be an option for many of us, “integration” and “connection” are key words van Vliet uses to describe her design principles and lifestyle choices. Biophilic design, her blueprint approach to architecture, is a process that integrates elements of the natural world into built environments, thereby connecting people to nature. The concept is known to promote wellness and physiological restoration.



Helena van Vliet home exterior
Photo By Barry Halkin



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