Best Literature Review Samples Written by Certified Writers

Home / Samples / Literature Review / Learning from Nature: Living Building in the Cities

Learning from Nature: Living Building in the Cities

Author: Ellie Cross

At: July 20, 2023


Nature is not just a term, but in its broadest sense, it acquires vast meanings which link to a lot of factors currently running and present in the world. It is notably the natural, physical, emotional, and material world that depicts all the meanings of life and existence. The human being, being a part of nature, can understand the philosophy of nature and know how it works to run the world along. There is a deep connection between learning and personality development with nature, as, with time, everything grows. Nature may give birth to a volume or can diminish the other and thus provide others with a chance to grow and develop with themselves in terms of intellect and character. This project is, however, targeting the learning capabilities linked to the nature of how one can learn from nature and achieve a level of self-development. To proceed with this project, the details about living buildings in the cities will play a significant role. This is because such building structures play an essential role in shaping the life and emotions of people who understand nature and wants to learn from it. The literature review below will contain some papers and research work from the valuable persons who did their best to analyze the linkage between nature and the learning process. However, the living buildings concept is now emerging as the new standard and ideal for design and construction. The architects and builders are not seen as keener towards nature and implementing their learnings from nature in their work. This is why over the past few decades, architects and builders have been looking forward to greening their projects and turning them into additional piecemeal elements to secure and save water or cut down the use of electricity there. The principal objective of this project is to confer ideas that are aimed at the creation of an environment and nature-friendly building and structures referred to as the living building in the urban areas developed by effectively managing the natural resources. In the section below, a proper review of existing data and literature will take place to understand how living buildings are being promoted now and how learning nature can affect their working. Moreover, the analysis of the role of nature in the development of learning and development mechanisms for people will also be included.

Literature review

It has been a part of discussions for so long that whether life experiences and learning from them have something to do with nature and the environment. Numerous claims have been revived till now to deepen the understanding of the cause-and-effect relationship of nature and learning. Thousand of evidence are present now, which are converging on the fact that experiences of nature play an essential role in boosting personal development, academic learning, structuring and building, and environmental stewardship ( Gong et al., 2017). Many papers have been proposed that emphasize education and learning through ecological impact and nature. According to Kovac (2016), while education and technological advancements are going more and more towards learning through technical exposure to learn different things in life, it is quite significant to remember why learning from nature and outside the screen is essential for the mind and intellectual development. A study proposed by Wallin about the importance of the role played by nature for the cognitive development of early learners. In this particular study, the research emphasized the cognitive and mental development of the individuals as, according to him, when the mind and thinking capabilities of a person are healthy, they can overcome significant challenges coming their way. It was investigated in the study that people who used to spend their time in nature and interlink their existence to it are more likely to get an efficient level of cognitive skills and concentration incorporating mitigation of ADHD/ADD symptoms.

Donaldson et al., 2020 investigated the impact of nature on learning and mentioned that individuals learn by observing others, reading and exploring things independently, and receiving formal instruction. Here the action of interacting with others and communicating them through nature provides plenty of experiences that challenge and encourage them to grow, think, and ask a question. However, the natural world plays an important role in conveying a message and ways to live a happier, more meaningful, and healthier life. The trait of observing nature may help, but a lot of people can lead to significant and creative work, including philosophers, scientists, artists, and architects (Nazaruk et al., 2017). This is why many building structures are prone to nature and depict the real example to be what nature should assess. Referring to the topic of this study, what is the role of nature in learning and cognitive development, and how nature can be studied in terms of living building in cities? This topic will, however, be assessed in the light of numerous previous studies below. Still, currently, the fact is that learning needs to be encouraged from the beginning in educational institutions.

The direct experiences gained through nature, compared to the indirect and ambiguous ones, are more openly able to provide the immediate and spontaneous challenges, immersion, and inspirations that play an essential role in the maturation process and development in children ( Kuo et al., 2019). This was the study which was later seconded by Lai et al., 2019, which discussed that with more exposure to less structured and varied outdoor and near-to-nature venues, individuals get to encounter diverse opportunities towards decision-making, which eventually stimulate their creativity and problem-solving skills. Hibbert et al., 2016 suggested that many natural world aspects are consistent, but many times the environment is revealed and experienced in ways that are not expected. The authors added that the learning process from nature changes across time and space, which require intuitions and ideas towards creative exploration. This study explained that nature acquires the world to learn, and most of the real-life experiences are the result of learning from nature and the environment. Nature is particularly vital as it elicits the necessary effective responses and attachments in individuals, which aid their abilities to work and respond to information ( Arciuli, 2017). Harris (2017) argued that children with ADHD, who tend to spend their time with nature, particularly in open and green spaces, are more likely to get healthy mental development and thinking abilities. Another study proposed by Groulx et al., 2017, suggested that nature and green buildings have an extensive capability to mitigate the symptoms of hyperactivity disorders, attention-deficit and increase the concentration levels of individuals. Another research reviewed by Tennant (2019) shows that the approximate access of people to the outdoor environment and greenspaces positively results in higher concentration, increased memory, academic success, a better level of creativity and motivation to succeed, an extreme level of self-control. All the above sources show how the time spend in nature nurtures the individual’s abilities to grow and learn in a different dimension. Some significant works also depicts the efforts which people use to learn and use them in another field to represent nature and its traces effectively.

According to the research conducted by Burgin et al., 2016, regardless of the positive effect of nature on learners themselves, natural settings and features found in surroundings provide more vast and supportive context for learning in a lot of ways. The researcher added that greener environments closer to nature are believed to foster learning because they are perceived as calmer and quieter. The reason is that they foster warmer relationships and more proneness to understanding. Muijs et al., 2017 investigated the outcome of learning and development as a result of various factors. This study explained the role of nature in the learning process in the school setting. The researchers added that the incorporation of nature in instruction and knowledge tends to enhance cognitive abilities and academic achievements as compared to traditional education. The same study conducted a random controlled trial of school garden-based instruction that involved over 3000 students. The results of this study depicted that students could gain more knowledge compared to the individual taking traditional classes. Moreover, it was concluded through the research that the more garden and greenery-based learning was fostered, the more the gains were achieved.

However, the primary focus of this study is on how nature assesses learning and how people are using that learning to develop valuable works in the world. To answer this question, the living building and education fostered through nature used in these buildings can be assessed through remarkable studies done in the past. Learning gained from nature can make the architects and designers this worthy that they come up with such solutions and ways to make buildings sustainable ( Pisello, 2017). The concept of the living facility is explained by Boateng (2016) that the world is starting to imagine that buildings can produce the total energy they will become consumers by using renewable resources, including wind, and solar. According to this research, living buildings capture and consume all of the water that is needed for building occupants and systems by diminishing the need for sewage treatment infrastructure and water. Plenty of evidence proves that the future buildings will look like this and will be the living buildings to secure a sustainable future ( Balaban et al., 2017). A study facilitated by Pires (2019) explained the idea of the Living Building Challenge, according to which LBC is leading the charge as it requires to permit such attributes to build projects which can lead them towards sustainability. However, it is believed that nature has a lot to learn and implement in the development of living buildings. The faster cities and towns are moving towards developing the living structure and sustainable living, the more they are likely to inspire people towards living a better life ( Barros et al., 2019).

Bulkeley et al., 2014, investigated the impact of living buildings in the cities and their connection to learning and sustainable life. According to this study, when the US environmental protection agency decided to remove its climate change hub and the sustainable living criteria from the public views earlier at the time, around seventeen cities of the US responded to this step of the US government. These cities posted pictures and information regarding the government sites on the respective platform. This was a massive move towards the living buildings because the country understood the vitality of nature’s role in better living standards and learning processes ( Tandogan et al., 2016). Another research suggested that his move by the US government’s side was quite revolutionary in many terms, including environmental, social, and economic, and it is also said that this type of innovation in the cities was agreed to be quite valuable ( Enteria et al., 2021). As a result of this step, design in the cities of the US was on display at the recent green build event, which was solely devoted to sustainable development and green building, drawing a diverse amount of attendees, including engineers, architects the administrators of schools and hospitals (Gardner et al., 2019).

Planet of remarkable studies has been the part of research where 90% of time spent indoors, building design and its impact in schools, workplaces and even in hospitals are emphasized. Another study proposed by Xing et al., 2018 suggested that Healthy Building Center by Harvard declared the facts about green and living buildings that enhance ventilation with optimal thermal conditions. It is also evident through this research that participants scored 26% higher in terms of cognitive functioning tests and had lesser symptoms of sick-building syndrome than those who preferred to live in the place they already were living in. The living buildings in the cities, which have direct intact with nature, deliver exposure to sunlight and make the day brighter; the blue-enriched lightening mimicking the natural lights is claimed to be the best source of enhancing sleep quality ( Linehan, 2020). This shows how living buildings in the cities are playing a vital role in the enhancement of health and wellness through nature and providing a piece of knowledge to the world about it. For the past few decades, builders and architects are looking forward to making their projects green and turn them into elements that help to save water and electricity. According to Soderholm et al., 2016, United States Green Building Council ( USGBC) has set criteria. The individual who could add more than a few green touches are considered to be eligible to apply for its certification. These efforts will provide a large queue of long-term benefits to the world because more people are getting to learn about nature and green buildings. Thus this learning is letting them implement the concepts of living facilities on their own.

However, the concept of living buildings in the cities is explained by Benhandou (2017). In his research, he claimed that it is now emerging in the form of a new ideal referred to as design and construction. It is evident by Scaffa (2012) that the Cascadia Region Green Building Council (CRGBC) is also known as the Pacific Norwest Chapter of the USGBC. This council has defined living buildings as the structure known to use all of its renewable energy with its non-toxic resources. These living buildings often capture and treat the entire water of itself and operate efficiently on their own. This particular group, which promotes greenery, learning from nature, has been pushing to adopt the concept of living buildings by construction industries here at home and helped much to lunch the living building institute to promote this concept internationally (Allen, 2019).

Hegazy et al., 2017 claimed that living buildings, referred to as green buildings, are now grown to become the most progressive and significant trends of recent times in the building and construction industry. The study of nature and its impacts were not much emphasized before the sustainable use of already present renewable resources of the building were introduced. When architects and artists learn things from nature and its premises, they can implement their knowledge in building construction, where they can use renewable resources and water to provide a sustainable lifestyle and facilities to the world. The research paper coordinated by Partington et al., 2020 has put its efforts into motivating the designers of living buildings in cities to ultimately transform their respective projects and use the new innovative techniques learned by nature to demonstrate that built and natural ecosystems that can integrate into each other using current technological advancements.

Another valuable research carried on by Casini (2016) illustrated the design elements concerned with the “Living Building Challenge.” In the context of this research and challenge, the building needed to be “living.” This could be declared authentic if the candidate building succeeds in achieving some imperatives. First of all, the building should generate its energy on the site by using its renewable resources. Moreover, the living facility should capture and treat its water and be constructed of non-toxic and sustainably sourced materials. The researcher added that this challenge would accept the buildings which will use only previously developed sites and will be attractive and inspiring for its inhabitants. After this declaration, looking at these multiple requirements encouraged moving beyond the concept of responsive architecture raised due to effective learning and knowledge from nature ( Kumar et al., 2017). This led to the situation where the ‘living’ buildings could adapt and interact with the external stimuli. Moreover, another depiction of the living buildings is that they are enough to inspire and educate those people who deal with it and understand the essence of nature within such structures (Badarnah, 2020).

As far as this project’s topic is concerned, some significant studies are incorporated above in the literature review. Still, most of them have emphasized living in buildings and learning from nature separately. Both of these concepts are closely interlinked to each other and have resourceful impacts. Therefore, a study proposed by Kwok et al., 2018 investigated this relationship, and according to the researchers, today the construction industry leaders and owners are learning to integrate the fundamental strategies behind the rating systems and coding requirements to realize multiple results from nature in terms of learning, economy, social and environmental. Krarti et al., 2020 suggested that these are the extraordinary building design which bring the individual closer to nature and give them the chance to learn diversely. In this way, the architects have gained confidence in designing such buildings which enhance the natural environment and protect individuals from negative outcomes like extreme climate events ( Mumford, 2016). The authors added that the learning process from nature changes across time and space, which require intuitions and ideas towards creative exploration. This study explained that nature acquires the world to learn, and most of the real-life experiences are the result of learning from nature and the environment.  Thus, the crux of literature is that learning from nature has given a lot to the world, especially in their construction and building area, by improving the human health, education, academic and life performance and happiness as well.


  1. Allen, E. and Iano, J., 2019. Fundamentals of building construction: materials and methods. John Wiley & Sons.
  2. Arciuli, J., 2017. The multi-component nature of statistical learning. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 372(1711), p.20160058.
  3. Badarnah, L., 2020. Towards the LIVING envelope: biomimetics for building envelope adaptation (Doctoral dissertation).
  4. Balaban, O. and de Oliveira, J.A.P., 2017. Sustainable buildings for healthier cities: assessing the co-benefits of green buildings in Japan. Journal of Cleaner Production, 163, pp.S68-S78.
  5. Barros, P., Fat, L.N., Garcia, L.M., Slovic, A.D., Thomopoulos, N., de Sá, T.H., Morais, P. and Mindell, J.S., 2019. Social consequences and mental health outcomes of living in high-rise residential buildings and the influence of planning, urban design and architectural decisions: A systematic review. Cities, 93, pp.263-272.
  6. Benhaddou, D., 2017, July. Living building: a building block of smart cities. In Proceedings of the 2017 International Conference on Smart Digital Environment (pp. 182-188).
  7. Boateng, F.G., 2016, November. The collapse of buildings in cities in Ghana: Reasoning beyond ‘scientism’. In Refereed Proceedings of TASA 2016 Conference (p. 7). Melbourne, Australia.
  8. Bulkeley, H.A., Broto, V.C. and Edwards, G.A., 2014. An urban politics of climate change: experimentation and the governing of socio-technical transitions. Routledge.
  9. Burgin, S.R. and Sadler, T.D., 2016. Learning nature of science concepts through a research apprenticeship program: A comparative study of three approaches. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 53(1), pp.31-59.
  10. Casini, M., 2016. Smart buildings: Advanced materials and nanotechnology to improve energy efficiency and environmental performance. Woodhead Publishing.
  11. Donaldson, J.P. and Allen-Handy, A., 2020. The nature and power of conceptualizations of learning. Educational Psychology Review, 32(2), pp.545-570.
  12. Enteria, N., Cuartero-Enteria, O., Santamouris, M. and Eicker, U., 2021. Morphology of Buildings and Cities in Hot and Humid Regions. In Urban Heat Island (UHI) Mitigation (pp. 1-13). Springer, Singapore.
  13. Gong, S., Ni, H., Jiang, L. and Cheng, Q., 2017. Learning from nature: constructing high-performance graphene-based nanocomposites. Materials Today, 20(4), pp.210-219.
  14. Groulx, M., Brisbois, M.C., Lemieux, C.J., Winegardner, A. and Fishback, L., 2017. A role for nature-based citizen science in promoting individual and collective climate change action? A systematic review of learning outcomes. Science Communication, 39(1), pp.45-76.
  15. Harris, F., 2017. The nature of learning at forest school: practitioners’ perspectives. Education 3-13, 45(2), pp.272-291.
  16. Hegazy, I., Seddik, W. and Ibrahim, H., 2017. The living building: integrating the built environment with nature evaluating the Bibliotheca of Alexandria according to the challenge imperatives. International Journal of Low-Carbon Technologies, 12(3), pp.244-255.
  17. Hibbert, P., Siedlok, F. and Beech, N., 2016. The role of interpretation in learning practices in the context of collaboration. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 15(1), pp.26-44.
  18. Kumar, N., Vasilakos, A.V. and Rodrigues, J.J., 2017. A multi-tenant cloud-based DC nano grid for self-sustained smart buildings in smart cities. IEEE Communications Magazine, 55(3), pp.14-21.
  19. Kuo, M., Barnes, M. and Jordan, C., 2019. Do experiences with nature promote learning? Converging evidence of a cause-and-effect relationship. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, p.305.
  20. Kovac, M., 2016. Learning from nature how to land aerial robots. Science, 352(6288), pp.895-896.
  21. Krarti, M. and Jin, X., 2020. Special Issue on Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings—Part 1. ASME Journal of Engineering for Sustainable Buildings and Cities, 1(3).
  22. Kwok, A.G. and Grondzik, W., 2018. The green studio handbook: Environmental Strategies for schematic design. Routledge.
  23. Linehan, M.M., 2020. Building a life worth living: A memoir. Random House.
  24. Muijs, D. and Reynolds, D., 2017. Effective teaching: Evidence and practice. Sage.
  25. Mumford, L., 2016. The culture of cities (Vol. 19). Open Road Media.
  26. Nazaruk, S.K. and Klim-Klimaszewska, A., 2017. Direct learning about nature in 6-year-old children living in urban and rural environments and the level of their knowledge and skills. Journal of Baltic Science Education, 16(4), p.524.
  27. Partington, J. and Zari, M.P., 2020. 25 Ngāi Tūhoe’s Te Kura Whare Our living building. Ecologies Design: Transforming Architecture, Landscape, and Urbanism, p.2.
  28. Pires, S., 2019. Living Building Challenge. Crit, (84), pp.41-41.
  29. Pisello, A.L., 2017. State of the art on the development of cool coatings for buildings and cities. Solar Energy, 144, pp.660-680.
  30. Söderholm, A., Öhman, A., Stenberg, B. and Nordin, S., 2016. Experience of living with nonspecific building‐related symptoms. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 57(5), pp.406-412.
  31. Tandogan, O. and Ilhan, B.S., 2016. Fear of crime in public spaces: From the view of women living in cities. Procedia engineering, 161, pp.2011-2018.
  32. Tennant, M., 2019. Psychology and adult learning: The role of theory in informing practice. Routledge.
  33. Wallin, A., Nature Play is Important for the Cognitive Development of Early Learners.
  34. Xing, Y., Jones, P., Bosch, M., Donnison, I., Spear, M. and Ormondroyd, G., 2018. Exploring design principles of biological and living building envelopes: what can we learn from plant cell walls? Intelligent Buildings International, 10(2), pp.78-102.