Biophilia may seem like a trendy buzzword, one frequently bandied around newspapers and thought pieces. But what exactly does it mean? Put simply, biophilia is the affinity between humans and nature. It is not a new concept by any means, but as our lives become increasingly urban and digitalised, the idea of respecting and living in harmony with nature is more prevalent than ever before.
This month, the first wave of residents is moving into Wardian London, a plush new apartment complex moments from Canary Wharf. This area of central London is no stranger to luxury high-rises, but what sets Wardian apart is its striking biophilic architecture and commitment to sustainability. A world-first in housing design masterminded by Glenn Howells Architects, Wardian London’s biophilic architecture creates a unique outside-in living experience across the two-tower complex. Every one of the 768 apartments and penthouses features its own private garden – some up to 37.2 square metres in size – with an abundance of plant life to create tranquil escapes in the heart of the city. Through the building’s projecting terraces, Wardian intends to reduce solar gain, resulting in a 42% cooling load reduction in comparison to towers with less shaded façades. On the 53rd floor, residences have access to a verdant sky garden overlooking the city. Floor-to-ceiling plant life is found throughout the development, with glass cases filled to the brim with trees and plants in a similar vein to London’s historic conservatories at Kew Gardens and the Barbican.
The golden age of travel in the late 19th century, with the advent of ferries and trains enabling travel and new discoveries, has set the tone for the development. Wardian takes its name from the 19th-century physician and botanist Dr Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward, who pioneered the “Wardian case”, a device used to transport exotic plants around the globe.
Plants not only look attractive, but studies have shown that they have a positive impact on mind and body through improved air quality and by creating a sense of serenity. As many adapt to working from home, the need to create these kinds of calming and productive environments has never been more essential.
At Wardian, the power of plants is merged with cutting-edge design, eco-friendly materials, and the kind of luxury amenities expected of modern London living. Residents are spoiled for choice with world-class facilities at their disposal, including a 25m open-air swimming pool, high-tech gym, private cinema and 24-hour concierge. We may be spending more time at home than ever before – but as modern architecture increasingly prioritises Mother Nature, this could bring unexpected benefits.