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An Experience-Centric Approach to Outdoor Space

This year, the ability to access fresh air and sunlight in the colder months is more important than ever.

With offices in London, New York and L.A. and projects across the globe, MAWD is both professional and personally well versed in different climates. As we approach winter 2020, more and more people, regardless of the cold, are looking for ways to spend as much time outdoors as possible. As always, MAWD’s EXCD design process can guide the way.

Think of the outdoor space as an extension of the indoor, be it a home or an office. Typically, when people speak of “indoor / outdoor” experiences, they think of cities like L.A. – sun-drenched, welcoming patios where the door can be left open around the clock. However, a true indoor / outdoor lifestyle doesn’t mean an entire day by the pool in the sun. It’s going out into your garden to grab a sprig of mint and back indoors to your kitchen, or having a conversation with a colleague in the sun during a work break. Programming those moments into the design of a space from the get-go is important. Outdoor space should be considered a year-round experience.

Outdoor spaces in the winter must incorporate a strong hospitality element – you want to create an enjoyable moment as much as a beautiful space. Think of it as an “outdoor room.” Who will be using the space, and what do they want to do there? A space that's suitable for morning coffee and contemplation is a different task than an outdoor dining area for a family. How flexible do you need the space to be? Considering optimal use based on your own schedule and needs can give you an idea as to how to approach a year-round design challenge.

Being outdoors is as much about mental wellbeing as physical; this was the case before COVID, and while a lovely, summery outdoor pool deck (complete with, for example, yellow and white striped awnings) may look cheerful and welcoming in the summer, in the winter that same space has the potential to be a reminder of what you’re missing out on. Warm lighting and evergreen plants can boost the mood regardless of the temperature.

Ideally, an "indoor / outdoor" lifestyle has been including in a project from concept. MAWD hopes that this place-building element is increasingly included within planning, to ensure a seamless experience, regardless of the season.

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