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When Architecture and Nature Come Together


September 14, 2017 | Ivy Publications

Our beautiful local landscape captured the heart of Thomas Jefferson and continues to impress us today with Blue Ridge Mountain backdrops and luscious green rolling hills. Cathy Purple Cherry, founder of Purple Cherry Architectsa high-end residential local architecture firm in Charlottesville, VA—shares how you can create meaningful places by fusing architecture and nature together…

“By the title of this blog, you would initially think that I might write about landscape architecture because this is where nature traditionally meets architecture [similar to these images of Purple Cherry Architects’ award-winning Harness Creek Pool House]. Instead, I want to focus on how nature can be brought into architecture and how the visual connection to nature through architecture can influence our emotions… most significantly moving us to experience joy, awe, humbleness, faithfulness and peace.

In the mountain landscape of Austria, the family chapel Maria Magdalena is, in my professional opinion, one of the best examples of how architecture and nature can combine to inspire self-reflection and elevate the visitor to a higher level of emotional thinking. This human connection with nature is known as biophilia. It is our fundamental human biological inclination to connect to elements within nature, and biophilic design is the method of bringing nature into the built-environment. From studies, it has been learned that biophilic design can reduce stress, increase creativity, improve our well-being and expedite healing. This whole experience is heightened with the overlay of related sounds and smells… rushing water, blowing winds, wrestling leaves.

There are many ways that nature can be brought into architecture from the simplest step of a large window with an incredible view to an interior garden space within four walls. Patterns within architecture that reflect the structures found in nature can further connect us to natural elements as well. However, what is undeniable is that spaces created to engage surrounding nature into the architectural experience are, by far, the most successful spaces in making us really think way beyond our own small world. The emotional feeling is undeniable. And it is a really happy feeling.” — Cathy Purple Cherry, Principal and Founder of Purple Cherry Architects

Keep an eye out for Cathy Purple Cherry’s article on UVA’s architecture inspired by Thomas Jefferson in Book 6 of Charlottesville Wine & Country Living!

Photos from Purple Cherry Architects’ award-winning Harness Creek Pool House.


From Ivy Publications, publishers of Charlottesville Wine & Country Living, a semi-annual magazine of Life & Style in Jefferson’s Virginia; Charlottesville Wine & Country Weddings, an annual art book celebrating elegant country weddings in Jefferson’s Virginia; CharlottesvilleFamily’s Bloom Magazine, a monthly parenting magazine with a calendar of Charlottesville festivals and events plus stories on education, health and family fun; and the Charlottesville Welcome Book, a guide to attractions like Monticello, vineyards, the University of Virginia as well as a relocation handbook. Email us at living@ivypublications.com with your questions and inquiries, or call us at 434-984-4713.

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