Perlita Biophilia Charrette, Part 1

Perlita Biophilia Charrette, Part 1

By Sofia Siegel

On May 8th, 2017, the Verdical Group team convened for the first of two half-day charrettes for Xavier Gaucher’s Perlita Passive House. Previously introduced in this blog, Gaucher is pursuing Passive House Certification and Living Building Challenge (LBC), Energy Petal Certification; one stipulation of the LBC Petal Certification is that the team holds one full day charrette (or two half-day charrettes) to specifically integrate biophilia in the design of the Project, inside and out.

Verdical Group’s full team attended the charrette, and were joined by Justin di Palo, Energy Analyst at Brightworks; Jessie Buckmaster, Assistant Project Manager at Hathaway Dinwiddie; and Gary Lai, Senior Associate at AHBE Landscape Architects. Experts in Energy Analysis, Materials, and Landscape Architecture respectively, they brought expert perspective and, together with Gaucher, were able to dive into creating a biophilic framework for the project.

Biophilia is “the innate, genetically determined affiliation of human beings to nature and other living organisms.” Still confused / need a quick Biophilia refresher? Check out a more in-depth blog here.

LBC sees Biophilia as being so deeply connected to Health and Happiness, that it one of only three imperatives associated with that Petal. Along with “Civilized Environment,” and “Healthy Interior Environment,” the physical and mental health benefits of biophilic design are transformative to a project, and are required to achieve the Health and Happiness Petal.

The charrette gave the team the opportunity to revisit the house’s design, interior and exterior, to consciously integrate nature and nature’s patterns into the design; to ensure that the Project will be uniquely connected to place, climate and culture; and provide sufficient (and frequent!) human-nature interactions wherever possible.

Considering nature and nature’s patterns were straight forward and ranged from the broad to the specific; the team reviewed features and design elements that would transform the space and improve the occupants’ experience, from environmental features and shapes, to patterns and processes. It also allowed the team to articulate design elements that inherently addressed these crucial benefits, and revealed how deeply biophilia is integrated into our design preferences. A wooden deck appealed to our design team, over a concrete patio, even before we named the innate preference for natural materials as biophilic.

The team addressed the best ways to uniquely connect the project to the place, climate and culture by diving into the history and culture of Northeast Los Angeles, and the climate (while acknowledging that the home would need to be designed for the changing climate, based on best predictions). The team had a lively discussion, and the Angelenos and transplants alike had a lot to learn about the rich history of Atwater Village.

To ensure frequent human-nature interactions, the team worked collaboratively to identify opportunities, inside and out, to enhance environmental features and seamlessly integrate them into the Gaucher family’s future day-to-day. Each member of the team had valuable and creative insight, re-imagining existing plans and spotting previously-missed opportunities.

The team has their marching orders, and once the second biophilia charrette is completed this summer, Verdical Group will finalize the Biophilia Framework required for LBC Certification. Stay tuned!