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Back to Nature with Biophilic Design

How modern home design fosters connection with nature, and each other


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Building sustainably, or responsibly, is no longer a trend but an expectation. It takes more than just using local materials and contractors and considering your environmental footprint, to design and build homes in a way that’s innovative and attractive to buyers.

Summit Sky Ranch, a new community located in Silverthorne, is going beyond that demand and focusing on biophilic design: That which reconnects people with the natural world.

More than half of buyers come from the Front Range, and choose a second (or primary) residence to get away from crowds and congestion. While the location and views certainly help, immersing clients in nature reminds them of why they chose to call Colorado home in the first place, along with benefits to their health and wellbeing.

The first way to stay true to biophilic design is to focus on outdoor space, and prioritize interior second. People want to spend their time outside, connecting with the environment, and their home should encourage that through design features like decks, patios and fire pits, along with homeowner amenities such as trail access, lakes and open space parks. One amenity built into the plans for Summit Sky Ranch is its dark sky designation, which more easily allows homeowners to connect with the starlit sky while providing access to a state-of-the-art observatory.

To be authentically biophilic, a homeowner should be able to transition flawlessly from the indoors to outside through both large and uninterrupted site lines and interior/exterior circulation paths. Conforming to and accentuating the natural landscape is an additional way to support this. Interior home design is also critical and should include as much natural material as possible, clean lines and natural light. Design elements within homes and throughout communities should be light-handed, with as little manipulation as possible.

Finally, mindful placement and integration with the surroundings are important. The heart of Summit Sky Ranch – called the Aspen House – sits within a large aspen grove. The building is essentially all glass, oriented to get as much southern exposure as possible, and offers great views of the Gore Range, establishing a sense of place within the Blue River Valley. From social areas to cozy reading nooks, a business center to yoga studio, the Aspen House facilitates interaction among neighbors and encourages restoration through relaxation and exercise amenities all set against a natural backdrop of beautiful trees.

For homeowners to reap the benefits of a biophilic home and truly connect with the outdoors, the approach needs to be thoughtful and authentic, with all aspects of the project and its environment considered. 


Matt Mueller is the director of developmentfor Summit Sky Ranch.

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