People spend more than 70% of our time inside a building. Yet we have a deep connection with the natural world. This dichotomy is the root of two recent design trends.
One trend is biophilic design, where an effort is made to connect the indoors and outdoors. This is done by opening up buildings to natural views while also physically bringing elements of nature inside.
There are many other ways you can fit AV into biophilic design. For instance, a videowall can be used to display natural content. We humans like context, though, so an even better solution would be a custom trim frame that looks like a window frame. Also, use lifts to hide AV equipment in ceilings, walls, or floors when not in use. And don’t forget the importance of using natural light while mitigating glare and heat gain! Automated roller shades can be integrated into the home or building control system to improve comfort and make it easier to view projected or flat panel content.
The other trend takes the opposite approach, moving the indoors outdoors.
Outdoor spaces have become more important than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in the residential and commercial markets. They offer the benefits of a connection with nature. Adding outdoor space is a cheaper option than bricks and mortar for expanding the footprint of a business or home.
Here are a few ways to stretch the capacity of a building and blur the line between indoors and outdoors:
Create a four-season space.
Existing structures such as garages or pergolas can be used year-round in many areas. Installing exterior shades with side channels keeps out rain, reduces noise, and controls heat and glare. With outdoor heaters it isn’t out of the question for employees and customers to make use of the space all winter in some areas. It also makes it more feasible to include AV whatever the weather.
Extend the seasons.
As businesses invest more in outdoor spaces, they want to extend their usage for a better ROI. If there is no existing detached structure, retractable exterior shades can help you get more use of covered patio areas. For decks without a roof, adding a louver system that can be opened or closed can also let you make use of your outdoor space for a longer period. Integrate these systems with outdoor AV for a better experience—i.e., reduce glare on screens and lower noise levels from outside.
Create multiple outdoor areas.
Don’t limit yourself to a single large outdoor space. By creating multiple outdoor “rooms,” you can allow more customers and employees to enjoy the outdoors simultaneously with a greater sense of intimacy and safety. Retractable shades can be lowered to create separate areas for eating, chatting, watching movies, and other activities, and to improve social distancing between groups. They can also be left up to create larger spaces.
Visually link the indoors and outdoors.
Use colors and plants near windows and doors to create a natural transition between indoor and outdoor spaces. Display views of nature on screens near the exits to help with the transition. Interior or exterior shades in natural colors can keep out glare when necessary and provide some privacy while allowing views through to the outside when the shades are down.
Exterior shades are an excellent solution for bringing any of these concepts to life. They offer several benefits:
- Reduce heat gain
- Reduce glare
- Resist wind
- Resist insects
- Reduce noise
- Provide privacy
Exterior zipper style shades are also great for keeping the rain away. Many outdoor spaces use clear plastic barriers when it starts raining. By using exterior shades people are kept dry with a more aesthetically appealing solution that still allows view-through!
Integrate into control system for maximum performance.
Exterior shades and screens should be seen as part of the overall project. They easily integrate into smart home or whole building automation systems. Use groups to create an outdoor room with a single button press, have shades deploy when the screen or other AV equipment is activated, or have the shade location determined by the time of day and location and orientation of the building.