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How can the natural environment become woven into the urban fabric?

The Nest: nurturing, transparent, and open with the characteristics of home. It is important that comfort exist in an environment in order to achieve an optimal learning experience. The definition of a comfortable environment and its location may change based on personal preference. However, the analysis has shown that similarities or collective conditions exist. Being outside and feeling surrounded by nature and fresh air eases stress. Studies have indicated that learning outside is beneficial to the quality of a students’ education and helps to promote better health.

The model represents the concept of a “Nest” as the framework for a nurturing natural environment for learning. This concept has the potential of being applied around campus at multiple scales and locations, rather than a specific site. An existing challenge the Ryerson Campus has is the large amounts of building mass compared to the minimal green spaces found in and around our campus. A concrete jungle does not entice people to work or engage the concrete fabric. If natural instances were added around campus, like the natural atrium (“Nest”), they could act as nodes that would promote collaboration and health. We believe Ryerson is lacking spaces for students to gather together, formally and informally; which has resulted a campus spirit that yearns growth. The campus is lacking quiet exterior spaces. A large number of study spaces provided around campus, interior and exterior, tend to be larger spaces; consequently they are louder working environments. While it is more difficult to spend time outdoors during the winter months, the project proposes the outdoor activities on the balconies and bottom of the nest. These activities are possible because of the protective shape of the nest providing a quiet, peaceful oasis in the winter and summer. Wrapping around the atrium is a mixture of classrooms, formal and informal workspaces that overlook the lush green balconies of the atrium. The atrium’s balconies act as social nodes that blur the lines between interior and exterior, creating a natural oasis of learning spaces in the heart of a building. These natural instances around campus will nurture a comfortable learning environment for students to reach their potential.

- Eric Reid



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