Interior design and visualisation crafting unbuilt architecture that brings the outside in.

Walls can be more than a pure vertical surface.
Four design principles that will transform your walls, your personal life and the world around you. 

The walls of our homes are much more than a pure vertical surface. They may be thick and heavy, expressing a clear distinction between a controlled interior environment and the exterior space from which it is isolated. On the other hand, they may be thin, even transparent, and thus blur the boundaries between you, architecture and nature, outside and in. 

To achieve this, Walls Can Be More takes its inspiration from four design principles deeply rooted in traditional Japanese and Chinese architecture. For centuries, these principles placed a high value on the beauty of the natural world to create spaces that were in perfect harmony with nature and therefore, full of mystery and beauty.
A Japanese technique for reestablishing visual and physical contact with the world outside.

In Japan, special attention is given to the placement of openings, and more important the creation of boundaries. These boundaries not only captured views and framed them like a painting on a wall: they also formed the best possible relationship with the natural light and heat of the sun. 

Technical and constructional requirements include:

The simplest way of making a window larger is to lengthen it by dropping the sill and removing the area of solid wall below. This alteration has no structural implications and merely involves basic building work. 

A rather more complicated alteration is to increase the size of the window by widening the opening. This involves installing a compensating beam across the top of the new opening to bear the structural load from above. The same is true if you are creating a new opening in a wall where none has existed previously.

The act of making an opening raises the question of how to close it. Choose external and internal sliding doors that allows for spaces to be lightly divided without destroying the concept of a generous, fluid and almost uninterrupted space. 

Spatial Effect:

Floor, wall, and ceiling planes serve to define and isolate a portion of space. Of these, the wall plane, being perpendicular to our normal line of sight, has the greatest effect as a spatial boundary. It limits our visual field and serves as a barrier to our movement.

Openings created within the wall plane for windows and doorways establish visual, spatial and acoustical links not only between surrounding interior spaces but also with the garden and the landscape beyond.

Passive Effect:

A design that forms the best possible relationship with the movements of the sun will [a] have a huge impact on the quality of natural light filtering into the building [b] maximise the amount of potential solar gain - natural heating provided by the sun and [c] reduce or eliminate the consumption of fossil fuels for artificial lighting and heating.

Biophilic Effect:

A space with good Dynamic & Diffuse Light can align our circadian rhythms by promoting the right balance of serotonin [daylight] and melatonin [night time]: chemicals that are linked to sleep quality, mood, alertness, depression, breast cancer and other health conditions. 

Other benefits include the absorption of Vitamin D: a critical nutrient that prevents bone loss and reduces the risk of heart disease, weight gain, and various cancers.

A space with good Thermal & Airflow Variability i.e. sliding doors that allow natural forces e.g. wind  to circulate air to and from indoor spaces can improve concentration as well as alleviate boredom and passivity.
A Japanese philosophy of aesthetics that takes its inspiration from nature.

Wabi, which roughly means "the elegant beauty of humble simplicity" and Sabi, which means "the passing of time and subsequent deterioration", were combined to form an ancient art that appreciated the undeclared beauty in the imperfections and profundity of natural materials, colours and textures.
Technical and constructional requirements include:

Where applicable, the application of [a] high-performance thermal laminate board to enhance the thermal insulation of walls, floors and ceilings and; [b] gypsum board to form smooth surfaces that are monolithic in appearance.  

Installation of 6-12mm architectural shadow beads to create a sharp, clean edge reveal effect alongside ceiling, skirtings, architraves and other finished architectural components.

Choose wall and floor finishes and materials such as clay, plaster, wall coverings, paints and ceramic tiles that incorporate [a] a matte finish; [b] textural patterns that exist in nature; [c] display signs of age and [d] a down-to-earth colour palette that are inspired by nature rather than fashionable colour charts

High-quality, square-edged timber skirtings and architraves to not only conceal, finish and perfect the joints between interior finishes but to also add a touch of warmth as well as colour and texture. 

Spatial Effect:

Wall and floor finishes from the aforementioned technical and constructional requirements not only absorb and diffuse both natural and artificial light evenly and without reflections but also establish a discernible contrast between interior and exterior. When used correctly, such an intense contrast will attract attention and draw the eye more easily to the world outside.

Passive Effect:

High levels of high-performance thermal laminate reduces heat loss and retains natural heat from the sun and results in a energy-efficient interior space that reduces dependence on fossil fuels for heat.

Natural materials with a high-thermal mass e.g. concrete, ceramic and stone have the capacity to absorb, store and re-radiate natural heat from the sun at night to further reduce dependence on fossil fuels for heat.

Biophilic Effect:

A space with a good Material Connection with Nature e.g. timber can significantly decrease diastolic blood pressure as well as significantly increased pulse rate​​​​​​​s, reduced blood pressure, skin conductance, and muscle tension. 

Additionally, a space with good Refuge i.e. separate or unique from the world outside not only feels safe but is also important for restoration experiences and stress reduction through lowered blood pressure and heart rate. 

Other benefits can also include reduced irritation, fatigue and perceived vulnerability, as well as improved concentration and attention.*

* The principle is based on the evolutionary history of humans, reasoning that environments with ample refuges increased the probability of survival for pre-humans and early humans.

Architecture is the thoughtful making of space.

Louis Kahn
Shoinzukuri Tien
Japanese Study Gardens

Japanese garden design is the careful and composed arrangement of rocks, water features, trees, bushes, gravel and "borrowed scenery" to create a "mini world" that gives the impression of natural landscape that is intended to offer peace and quiet contemplation. 

Unlike most other types of garden, the Shoinzukuri Tiein style garden wasn’t designed to be enjoyed on foot, but rather to be viewed and enjoyed from the interior, like a painting: a painting that possesses a unique aura of calm and tranquility as well as expressing a love for the transient beauty of the natural world. 
Technical and constructional requirements include:
Contemporary steel or aluminium circular or rectangular pools - specifically designed to ensure a calm, glass-like surface - for serene, alluring focal points that mirror the beauty of the surrounding trees, clouds and the skies.

Broad sweeps of medium-sized to large ornamental grasses and herbaceous plants provides a visual richness of colour and texture as well as offer a continual delight alongside the range of insects and and birds it attracts.

 Small deciduous "pioneer" trees, "dwarf" conifers, large evergreen shrubs, bamboo, climbers, creepers and screens to not only soften the impact of surrounding walls but to also screen undesirable views and provide privacy all year round.

Fine, white, silvery grey or golden brown gravel with grains between 3 -8mm laid out on a open expanse or walkway serves as the perfect, textural backdrop for the limelight-seeking foliage spilling over its edges.

Tall standing or broad horizontal rocks, lanterns lit with tiny candles, moss, planters and site-specific statuary, sculpture and art placed strategically to create a sense of drama and interest. 

Space permitting, a steel-frame pergola and a timber trellis secured to the top of the frame takes the form of an "outdoor room": an easily accessible haven from which you can appreciate nature, the garden and the surroundings.

Passive Effect:
Evergreens i.e. "dwarf" conifers as well as evergreen shrubs and climbers can provide effective shelter or protection from the wind as well as reduce heat loss through the building fabric during the winter.

South-facing deciduous trees provide shade and glare protection during the summer and allow solar gain - natural heating provided by the sun - to penetrate through their branches during winter.

A combination of deciduous and evergreen trees can also be effective in intercepting and reducing the perception of airborne and unwanted sounds such as traffic noise

Biophilic Effect:
The act of touching real plant life, water or raw materials - versus synthetic plant life - has been shown to induce relaxation through a change in cerebral blood flow rates. 

Research shows that exposure to nature sounds, when compared to urban or office noise, accelerates physiological and psychological restoration up to 37% faster after a psychological stressor as well as reducing cognitive fatigue and increasing motivation. 

Studies have also shown that olfactory exposure to herbs and phytoncides [the essential oils from trees] has a positive effect on the healing process and human immune function, respectively​​​​​​​.
Feng Shui
The art of spatial arrangement

Feng [meaning "wind"] and Shui [translating to "water"] is a Chinese system of laws considered to govern the orientation and spatial arrangement of objects based on the patterns of Yin and Yang and the overall flow of energies [Qi or Chi]: the energy flow or life force that is said to pervade all things.
Technical and constructional requirements include:
Precisely place the main piece of furniture - sofa, armchair, chair, table, bed or desk - in a "command position": diagonally facing the opening with the back facing a wall.*

Large to medium low-maintenance, air-purifying house plants in a decorative planters placed in high, empty corners and smaller plants placed on shelves, desks, window sills and dining tables. 

Concealed "soft-close" and "anti-slam" mechanisms e.g. hinges, drawer guides etc for all doors [sliding, swing and pocket doors], cabinets, drawers and fixtures such as toilets.

Follow the assertion of British textile designer, poet, novelist, translator, and socialist activist, William Morris: "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to use, or believe to be beautiful."

Last but certainly not least, take a moment to sit back, relax, close your eyes, breathe deeply and with a humble heart, express your gratitude for the gift of home: our anchor and and our refuge.

*Regular window cleaning, with non-toxic cleaners whenever possible, increases the quality of light as well as its ability to enliven the colour and textures of the interior surfaces.
Spatial Effect:
Furniture that share a common trait or characteristic, e.g. similar orientation can produce unity and visual harmony: a consonance or concord which can subconsciously foster calm and tranquility.

Biophilic Effect:
Stress recovery from visual connections with nature have reportedly been realised through lowered blood pressure and heart rate; reduced attentional fatigue, sadness, anger, and aggression; improved mental engagement and attentiveness, attitude and overall happiness. 
Useful links:

Brands and Manufacturers

Sliding doors

Polished plaster and decorative finishes

Biophilic Design

14 Patterns of Biophilic Design
Bringing the outside inside

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