White Walls, designed by the French Architect Ateliers Jean Nouvel is a great example of how we can bring nature and greenery back into urban environments. The apartment and office tower situated in Nicosia, Cyprus features perforated white walls which lets day light filter through into the interior spaces. Balconies that stretch the width of the entire façade provide occupants with direct access to nature and encourage them to spend more time outdoors to relax or be sociable. Exotic plants within the building’s corridors are exposed through the vast array of individual openings, allowing them to grow and dangle over the balcony spaces. This design feature not only adds vibrancy and texture to the white façade, but also ensures there is greenery always in the periphery vision, which is beneficial for the occupant’s well-being.
Overall, the plants create a healthy living environment within the dense urban area of Nicosia. Nouvel describes his design as a “natural brise soleil” – a façade bursting with plants, which creates a natural sun shield to the building. The plants protect the apartments and offices from the intense heat during the day time, and when they wilt and shed their leaves during the winter, daylight is able to filter through the square openings into the interior. Not only do the plants allows the apartments to be heated and cooled accordingly throughout the changing seasons, but they also add a rich sense of bio-diversity, which helps to strengthen the occupants connection with nature.
Greenery also continues outside, where 400 year old olive trees line the perimeter of the tower block. The landscaping creates a link to the urban park close by and also give a natural sense of the scenery found in Cyprus’ country landscapes.
It’s crucial to maximise natural light whilst designing spaces we live and work in. Due to urbanisation and technological advancement, we are surrounded by artificial lighting, which can be damaging to our sleep/wake cycles. At Heath Design, we think it’s great how Jean Nouvel has incorporated plants to naturally control day light throughout the changing seasons. Maximised natural light can help regulate our circadian rhythms, which controls our mood, energy and overall well-being. As a result, we are able to become more resilient from the every stresses and strains we face whilst living within a city. Further, the occupants are able to recognise seasonal change through the changing state of the indoor and outdoor plants, further strengthening their connection with nature.
Design architect: Ateliers Jean Nouvel; local collaborating architects: Takis Sophocleous Architects. Photos Yiorgis Yerolymbos, courtesy of Nice Day Developments.