Magazine
MAGAZIN
Forest bathing on your doorstep
#greenbuilding

Forest bathing on your doorstep

Dutch architectural firm Gaaga has designed a residential building in Eindhoven that is distinctly people- and environment-friendly. Surrounded by trees, it is situated in the middle of a park.

Shinrin-yoku arrived in Europe several years ago. It first emerged in Japan and roughly translates into English as “forest bathing”. Anybody who lives near woods or even a park can consider themselves lucky: as its name suggests, this relaxing pastime is enjoyed in woodland. The residents of “Het Bosbad” in Eindhoven are especially fortunate because their homes are actually amongst trees, so to speak. You could almost say that forest bathing is included in the rent.

Forest bathing at home
Forest bathing in Eindhoven’s “Het Bosbad”, a multi-level building by Dutch architectural firm Gaaga.

Eindhoven in the Netherlands is usually associated with two different things: on the one hand, this city in the province of North Brabant in the south of the country is famous for being a design and technology centre. After all, this was the birthplace of electronics group Philips. On the other hand – and football fans are sure to know this already – it is home to the PSV Eindhoven football club, whose stadium also bears the name Philips. For those who aren’t familiar with Dutch football: besides Ajax Amsterdam and Feyenoord Rotterdam, the “Eindhovense Voetbalvereniging Philips’ Sport Vereniging” is one of the most successful football clubs in the Netherlands.

Bosrijk in Eindhoven
Used to be military terrain: the district of Bosrijk in Eindhoven.

Bosbad as a residential haven

However, in future Eindhoven may well also be associated with the project designed by Dutch architecture studio Gaaga known as “Het Bosbad”. Or in actual fact, the entire district of Bosrijk. Formerly used by the army, the area was preserved and designed as a green haven under the direction of developers karres+brands, who were responsible for the master plan. The Dutch are pioneers in the design of entire districts as sustainable residential havens, such as this one in Groningen.

Bosrijk in Eindhoven
Former army terrain

Substantial tree population

Bosrijk is one of the zones set aside by the Dutch Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment for the housing programme known as Vinex, which is similar to an urban development plan. It is aimed at creating a “compact city”.

The former army grounds in the district of Meerhoven are located on the Beatrix Canal and will border on the new districts of Zandrijk and Grasrijk. Over the years, Bosrijk has developed into an area that is much like a park, with a substantial tree population. After the military moved out, karres+brands were handed responsibility for urban planning and designed a public space.

Diverse residential models in Bosrijk
Diverse residential models in Bosrijk

Diverse residential models

The area provided an ideal place to build a diverse range of residential models and road structures on the grassland. As a result, many of the building plots are one of a kind. Calculations during planning also incorporated the changing status of the woods. These changes can be natural or as a result of human intervention in the “green structure”.

Woodland in Bosrijk
Het Bosbad

But let’s return to the matter in hand, which is “Het Bosbad” designed by Gaaga for Kikx Development. The timber facade gives the building a friendly quality that fits in well with the surrounding area. A leafy walkway leads through the building like a forest path. The use of tree trunks in this walkway creates a link with the trees in the park.

Inside Het Bosbad
A highly attractive design: heat regulation and “wadi” inside the multi-level residential “Het Bosbad”.

City detox in your own home

The experts at Gaaga focused on the sustainable use of energy and raw materials during the building’s construction, utilization, maintenance and end-of-life deconstruction. Cooling and heating requirements are reduced to a minimum by the cool walkway, roof greenery, triple glazing and good insulation. The footpaths through the park lead up to the walkway, whose floor area is partially covered with ferns. Depending on the amount of rainfall, water collects here to form a “wadi”.

Inside the apartments, the open space in the living room leads out to the balcony and extends over the timber decking into the outside world. This fluid transition literally invites you to wander out barefoot. Immerse yourself in the woodland atmosphere. The space is framed by timber tree trunks that create a feeling of intimacy.

Healing forest

In Japan, forest bathing is a recognized form of (natural) therapy. Doctors often prescribe their patients a trip to the forest for several days. The experience involves all the senses. It involves immersion in a beautiful setting, breathing in the good air, hearing the rustling of leaves, digging your hands into the forest soil and leaning against a tree.

Research at the US National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) has found that spending time in forests does actually reduce stress and boost your mood. This is due to phytoncides, which are substances emitted by plants to ward off bacteria, fungi and insects. Humans are known to feel calm when they come into contact with these volatile organic compounds. The blood pressure falls, activity in the prefrontal cortex of the brain is reduced, and there is a decrease in the amount of the stress hormone cortisol being released. The heart rate variability improves as well. And the NCBI has discovered that phytoncides also enhance the activity of natural killer cells and therefore boost the immune system.

Text: Linda Benkö
Translation: Rosemary Bridger-Lippe
Photos/Renderings: Karres en Brands, Wendel de Joode, Gaaga, MAAK, YuconVR

Other articles
that might interest you

Where clouds linger
#architecture
Where clouds linger

Shenzhen is set to be home to a museum that should really be built in the sea. Although inspired by bobbing waves, the design ultimately looks like a group of clouds. And the spectacular structure has indeed been titled “Clouds on the Sea”.

Wood with superpowers
#greenbuilding
Wood with superpowers

Architect and biologist Timothée Boitouzet has used nanotechnology to give wood an upgrade. The new material “Woodoo” is translucent, fire-resistant, weatherproof and up to five times stronger than normal wood.

High-tech timber for Norwegian banking
#smart office
High-tech timber for Norwegian banking

Timber construction can be decidedly high-tech, as illustrated by the head office built for SR Bank in Stavanger, Norway. Bjergsted Financial Park offers workplaces that are fit for the future, and it is among Europe’s largest engineered timber buildings.

In harmony with nature
#greenbuilding
In harmony with nature

So, what does "Noom" actually mean? While Sanzpont [arquitectura] and Pedrajo + Pedrajo Arquitectos don't exactly reveal this, their "Living the Noom" concept is pretty clear: it’s all about a fresh take on housing. With environmental protection and quality of life as a top priority.

Hamburg sets a new benchmark
#greenbuilding
Hamburg sets a new benchmark

HafenCity Hamburg is an urban quarter fit for the future. Its eco cherry on the top is the “Null-Emissionshaus” (Zero Emissions Building), which is completely carbon-neutral – and can be dismantled like a Lego house.

Urban apartments off the peg
#greenbuilding
Urban apartments off the peg

Apple’s former design head BJ Siegel has developed a concept for a timber modular house. The urban prefab named Juno is designed for mass production – and hopes for success on the scale of the iPhone.

Village life in the city
#greenbuilding
Village life in the city

Communal vegetable patches, car sharing and a timber building that overtops many others. Sweden’s largest housing cooperative is celebrating its 100th anniversary with a project called Västerbroplan that shows how people will live in the future.

A superlative tree house
#greenbuilding
A superlative tree house

Bearing the name Tree House Rotterdam, Holland’s new landmark-to-be looks like a gigantic stack of wooden shelves with glass lofts added on top. It aims to take the sustainability of timber high-rises to a new level.

Co-housing 2.0
#living
Co-housing 2.0

Three tonnes of lettuce and vegetables annually will be farmed on top of the We-House, a timber construction project in Hamburg’s HafenCity. The on-site restaurant serves meals for residents of this sophisticated eco-house at cost price.

The parametric office
#smart office
The parametric office

The design for the urban office building Saint Denis in Paris shows the potential of parametric design in timber construction. Architect Arthur Mamou-Mani is a luminary in this new discipline, and we were able to meet him online.

Vertical allotments for urban farming
#city planning
Vertical allotments for urban farming

Self-sufficiency is no longer a dream reserved for downshifters. The modular building system named The Farmhouse designed by Studio Precht allows residents to grow food in big cities.

Timber pavilion with high-tech design
#greenbuilding
Timber pavilion with high-tech design

Homerton College at the University of Cambridge has chosen the design by Alison Brooks Architects for a pavilion that combines modern timber construction with high-tech facilities. It is expected to be a future-facing answer to their needs.

Green, greener, Växjö!
#greenbuilding
Green, greener, Växjö!

The Swedish university city of Växjö has been named “the Greenest City in Europe”. Half of all its new buildings have been built with timber. But the city plans to go even further.

Timber through and through
#city planning
Timber through and through

The Scandinavians have shown their pioneering strength once again, this time in the design for a new cultural centre. The Sara Kulturhus in Sweden’s Skellefteå is among the world’s tallest high-rise structures built entirely from wood.

The exported timber high-rise
#greenbuilding
The exported timber high-rise

When it comes to timber construction engineering, the United States has been lagging behind other countries. Ascent Tower in Milwaukee aims to change this. Topping out as the world’s tallest timber tower at a height of 284 feet, the building uses expertise and structural elements from Austria.

Shopping inside a timber canyon
#interior
Shopping inside a timber canyon

As many as 40,000 pieces of wood had to be fitted together for the gift shop in the National Museum of Qatar. The inspiration behind this award-winning interior design was supplied by a miracle of nature in Qatar’s desert.

The tallest passive house in the world
#greenbuilding
The tallest passive house in the world

Canada’s Earth Tower aims to outshine all existing timber high-rise buildings. Its energy concept means that this 40-storey skyscraper in Vancouver will be the world’s tallest passive house.

Replacing concrete with earth
#greenbuilding
Replacing concrete with earth

On the edge of the tropical rainforest in Mexico, a research museum will explore how nature and progress can be reconciled. Known as Xinatli, its sophisticated design takes a fresh look at circular building materials.

Back to the roots
#living
Back to the roots

The eco-friendly residential project Roots will be the new landmark of Hamburg’s HafenCity and the tallest timber high-rise in Germany. Architect Jan Störmer reveals what its future residents will have in common.

Timber with talent and technology
#greenbuilding
Timber with talent and technology

The Danish office 3XN is planning to build North America’s tallest timber office building in Toronto. Called T3 Bayside, the complex will offer more than 500,000 sq. ft. of next-generation office space when completed.

Back to the future
#city planning
Back to the future

Oslo was once built entirely of wood. The project chosen to redesign the area around its railway station heralds the return of this traditional building material to the Scandinavian metropolis. A spectacular office tower with an innovative hub is being developed, named Fjordporten.

A design hotel on a bunker
A design hotel on a bunker

The redevelopment of an above-ground Nazi-era bunker is Hamburg’s largest building project since the Elbe Philharmonic Concert Hall. With spectacular rooftop gardens and nhow Hamburg design hotel, this new landmark in the heart of the St. Pauli district is sure to become a magnet for visitors.

The tessellated pavilion
#greenbuilding
The tessellated pavilion

Japanese architect Kengo Kuma and Australian artist Geoff Nees teamed up to design the Botanical Pavilion – a wooden pavilion that is constructed like a 3D puzzle – without using any kind of glue or screws.

The house made by 3D printers
#greenbuilding
The house made by 3D printers

The round construction known as TECLA has created quite a stir. Having teamed up as 3D printing pioneers, WASP and Mario Cucinella Architects have produced the first CO₂-free housing prototype printed entirely from raw earth.

Origami in wood
#greenbuilding
Origami in wood

Japanese architectural firm UENOA has created a wooden office that has no need for bearing walls. Folded origami-style, the ceiling construction gives a whole new lightness to cross-laminated timber.

“Climate change changes everything”
#greenbuilding
“Climate change changes everything”

Sustainability is a top priority for the Powerhouse Company. In an interview, partner Stefan Prins explains why this means more than just a careful choice of materials and energy efficiency, and how essential it is to consider all the changes brought about by climate change when building.

A timber high-rise goes into production
#greenbuilding
A timber high-rise goes into production

The Life Cycle Tower One was the first timber high-rise in Austria and the prototype for a new type of serial construction. CREE founder Hubert Rhomberg explains the green building concept and why we have to learn to think in lifecycles.

Wood on London’s skyline
#greenbuilding
Wood on London’s skyline

Researchers at Cambridge University are helping to turn London’s spectacular vision of a wooden skyscraper into reality. The Oakwood Timber Tower is to rise 300 metres into the sky, almost level with the tallest building in the city.

Timber housing on a modest budget
#greenbuilding
Timber housing on a modest budget

Most people looking for a new home with a sustainable design need to have deep pockets. Rotterdam’s Pendrecht district aims to buck this trend courtesy of timber building Valckensteyn, the brainchild of the architects at Powerhouse Company.

All in the name
#greenbuilding
All in the name

In Düsseldorf, The Cradle is gradually taking shape. The timber hybrid office building is being constructed according to circular economy principles, and these will also govern its future use.

Twin peaks for the Netherlands
#greenbuilding
Twin peaks for the Netherlands

The Dutch city of Eindhoven will soon be home to the world’s highest “plyscraper”. The two towers – 100 and 130 metres high and known as the Dutch Mountains – are to set new standards in high-rise timber construction.

New Kiez on the Block
#city planning
New Kiez on the Block

An entire residential complex in Berlin-Kreuzberg is to be built out of timber – vertically. With a planned height of almost 100 metres, WoHo is set to be Germany’s tallest timber building.

Crowned with timber
#greenbuilding
Crowned with timber

A mixed-use project in Sweden’s Gothenburg is being crowned by star architect Dorte Mandrup. The jewel in this crown is its use of timber. The new eco construction is intended to become an icon in sustainable urban architecture.

Feel-good furniture
#interior
Feel-good furniture

Designed by US architect David Rockwell, built according to WELL Building Standard principles. The Sage Collection by British furniture maker Benchmark is good for humans and the environment.

Plyscraper on Lake Geneva
#city planning
Plyscraper on Lake Geneva

Swiss urban planning combines prominent architecture with ecological timber construction. Lausanne’s Tilia Tower is setting a high standard in future-proof urban development.

A district made of wood
#city planning
A district made of wood

Munich’s Prinz-Eugen-Park is the site of the largest integrated timber settlement in Germany. And that’s not all – the city planners have even more in the pipeline.

Gare Maritime restored in timber splendour
#greenbuilding
Gare Maritime restored in timber splendour

Once Europe’s largest freight station, Brussels’ monumental Gare Maritime is now the largest European CLT project. Neutelings Riedijk Architects have transformed the historic structure into a covered district, giving it a sustainable new lease of life using cross-laminated timber.

Sydney hosts a timber innovation
#greenbuilding
Sydney hosts a timber innovation

The plans just unveiled for the new, 180-metre-high timber tower designed for the Sydney-based software giant Atlassian represent a milestone in environmentally friendly construction using this renewable raw material.

Baptism of fire
#greenbuilding
Baptism of fire

Charred is the new black. An ancient Japanese technique for conserving wood is all the rage in contemporary architecture. As well as looking sophisticated, this building material scores top marks when it comes to sustainability.