In today’s frenetic world we are bombarded with relentless distractions that pummel our brain. The long-term effects are only just being recognized and the verdict isn’t a positive one. But research says that there is an antidote and it is a simple one: spending time immersed in nature. The catch is most of us live and work in a concrete urban jungle and finding a little green may not seem like the easiest feat. But living architecture proponents like Kerry Ross are working diligently to change that.
“There has always been this understanding that there is this biophilic effect. We crave spaces of nature – they help to lower heart rate and reduce stress. Even just viewing living plants from a window will give us that effect,” says Ross.
Ross, who is a graduate architect, has evolved her practice into what she calls “living architecture.” She is one of the first accredited green roof professionals in Canada and one of the key players behind the green roof at City Hall. She has also spearheaded another eco-roof at the University Research Park. She studies the benefits green roofs and living walls provide to humans and the urban context and is working on a master’s of arts in geography with an energy and environment specialization.
She says that studies show that when we ditch the technology, stop the incessant multi-tasking and seek out our natural surroundings, we not only feel restored, but also improve our mental performance.
Ross began her experiments with green roofs by building one on her garden shed. Her next experiment was a living wall — an outdoor one — an ambitious feat in a climate like Calgary’s.
“Calgary is really a three-season climate, so an outdoor living wall is a bit unusual. It’s overwintered three years now and it looks really great,” she says, adding that green roofs and living walls are able to provide that hit of nature both outside and in.