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2.1 Optimizing biophilia in extreme climates through architecture

Principal Investigators

Claude Demers, Marc Hébert


Myriam Blais, Louis Gosselin, Jean-François Lalonde, André Potvin, Geneviève Vachon


Pierre Blanchet, Carole Després, Line Rochefort

Collaborators outside U. Laval

Ellen Avard (Makivik), Mylène Riva (McGill U.), Claude Vallée (MAPAQ)

Project summary

Biophilia defines the innate attractiveness of humans towards nature, daylighting being its primary vector. This research project proposes to optimize biophilia by creating a living environment adapted to the limited availability of natural light in extreme climates. As a genuine extension of the body, architecture stands between nature and humans and expresses the tangible meeting point of climate, biology and technology. Architecture integrated to its environment and cultural context expands the space of the biological and social balance point and secures a favourable environment for productivity, health and well-being while minimizing negative impacts on the environment. In the context of limited light and resources, occupants or temporary workers of the North depend on a highly technological building culture to adapt to often hostile environments. However, inhabitants of the North –especially Inuit communities- have developed a rich architectural culture intimately adapted to the biosphere, which has gradually subsided in contact with Southern lifestyles and access to resources.

The project proposes to meet the biophilic needs of both cultures through the following research activities:

  • measurement of the availability of natural light and its impact on human well-being, energy demand of buildings, and potential for vegetalization
  • development of optical technologies (LED, Smart Windows, Optical Fiber) to optimize the well-being of users, minimize the energy intensity of buildings and promote ecological restauration
  • integration of optical technologies to architectural and building components to auxiliary spaces or 'biophilic prostheses' to existing buildings (communal and/or residential spaces)
  • and validation of the effectiveness, applicability and cultural acceptability of the solutions by architectural design solutions