“Campus as a Forest” Inspires a School Master Plan
Architecture & Landscape Design
Design a school campus that reconnects students to nature by demonstrating how nature works
What We Did
The VMDO team was inspired to use biomimicry as a tool to advance their leadership in Green Schools design. Together we explored the vision of the Lancaster County public school campus that provided a healthy learning environment and also optimized design performance to benefits students and the community. Our goal was to demonstrate buildings can actually have a positive impact on the community and the ecosystem, one does not need to compromise the other. To achieve this goal the Biomimicry 3.8 team applied the concept of Ecological Performance Standards—a design framework to deliver ecosystem services—to inform the Master Planning and stakeholder engagement process.
The biomimetic design recommendations combined with ecosystem service performance scenarios allowed the VMDO team to make more informed design decisions and create a campus Master Plan designed to benefit the students, community and local ecosystem. As the project moves forward, Biomimicry 3.8 and the VMDO team can partner further to bring biomimicry into the design of the buildings.
The campus also has the opportunity to use the research we conducted to educate students and the community about the local ecosystem—the organisms, their functions, roles, the value and benefit they provide to the community. The work also provides an opportunity for students to have a living lab—hands-on participation in monitoring the campus ecosystem services performance over time, tracking impacts from Kindergarten to High School, a visceral experience in the power of design and nature.
How We Did It
We identified the ecological priorities of the site through our Genius of Place process. Then with EcoMetrix Solutions Group, our partner specializing in ecosystem metrics, we visited the project site to quantify ecosystem services outputs at each location. The outputs helped the team prioritize ecosystem services vital to the health of the campus and the Chesapeake Bay region. The performance outputs helped the landscape team optimize habitat types and placement to support ecosystem services, while the Genius of Place research of local champion species gave inspiration for creating design features that further added to positive ecosystem services.
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