All people need access to the outdoors. A growing amount of evidence points to the healing benefits of experiencing nature. That’s why amenities that promote spending time in nature are becoming more sought after.
But, in urban environments there is a lack of quality outdoor spaces. Few urban outdoor spaces provide enough greenery and water – the key components necessary to improve health. At a time when health is at the forefront of people’s minds because of the pandemic, it’s important to consider the benefits of spending time outdoors.
As a real estate developer, this shortage of quality outdoor spaces provides you with a unique opportunity. By increasing the amount of nature in your outdoor spaces you can increase the perceived value of your property. And you can create the types of experiences that will make your tenants want to stick around.
Taking in the Atmosphere
The Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku or “forest bathing” is a therapy that is becoming a large part of preventive health care and healing. It is the act of taking in the forest atmosphere on a leisurely walk, and it has proven health benefits.
Being outside can increase your energy level and improve sleep. It reduces stress, improves your mood, and even increases your ability to focus. Being in nature (or even viewing it from a window) lowers blood pressure, boosts the immune system, and accelerates recovery from surgery or illness.
Our Lack of Nature
A growing majority of the world’s population lives in cities. And our access to nature is continually diminishing. This growing disconnect between people and the natural environment has consequences on our physical and mental health.
The need for being out in nature has been highlighted recently during the Coronavirus pandemic. After facing weeks confined inside their homes, Americans flocked to parks and trails to meet their longing for outdoor experiences. As urban parks and beaches began to get overcrowded, it became clear that there is just not enough quality outdoor space to go around.
Real estate developers can meet the growing need for outdoor experiences by providing such amenities on their development projects. As these private, but communal spaces get dispersed throughout cities, the burden on public parks could be alleviated. Furthermore, as more consumers continue to become more aware of their own needs for time outdoors in nature, the demand for these amenities will continue to increase.
Make Your Outdoor Amenities a Healing Feature
The key to creating immersive outdoor spaces that actually have health benefits is providing as much access to nature as possible. Consider the following ways to make your outdoor amenities a healing feature on your next project:
1) Increase the green.
The more trees and shrubs, the more forest-like the environment. The natural aromas from living plants are a huge part of the therapy of being in nature. Too many developers make the mistake of cutting back on plants when they are so necessary to getting the space right. Think of the plant density in natural areas and match it. Generally speaking a 7:3 plants to hardscape ratio is what you need to get health benefits similar to those you’d get in actual nature.
2) Include water.
Whether it’s a pool, pond, or fountain, a water feature is important to include. Because water is necessary for life, it invokes feelings of peace and healing. Even the sound of water is enough to have a calming influence. Unfortunately developers often talk themselves out of water features because of maintenance fears. Worry instead about how to provide the best experiences for your tenants. By attracting and retaining tenants, beautiful outdoor spaces with water features will pay for themselves.
3) Mimic the savanna.
Humans are naturally drawn to grassy areas, dotted with trees. People feel most comfortable and safe in outdoor environments that share the characteristics of savanna regions where human civilization began. You can use ornamental grasses and multi-trunk trees to achieve this look.
A Competitive Advantage
Nature-inspired amenities are a competitive advantage in urban environments. Providing adequate access to quality outdoor space is critical to the success of your building.
Lush, green, and healing outdoor amenities should not be a “bonus” for luxury apartments, they should part of the planning and design of all buildings from the beginning.
Access to nature in an urban environment is the new standard. Your tenants understand this now — and they are counting on it.