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Valeriya Laskova

Valeriya's background in science has allowed her to develop a keen interest in research that she now applies in developing evidence-based design solutions in her second career as a designer. Her love for nature has inspired her to search for biophilic design strategies to support human well-being, while investigating sustainable design options to help contribute to the welfare of the whole planet.

Project Overview

As an avid nature lover, Valeriya has a passion for biophilic design. Her design of the Alton Mill Community Centre focused on the needs of the local community, while connecting the users with nature through a variety of biophilic design strategies that support their overall well-being. The chosen location for this project is the former Alton Mill, whose heritage status posed a unique design challenge and guided the functional and aesthetic design decisions. The site itself is immersed in nature, which reinforces the effect of the biophilic design strategies employed in the interior

2D and 3D design sketches  Click to enlarge

Forms and geometries found in nature inspired the development of parti diagrams.

2D and 3D design sketches  Click to enlarge

Variety of biophilic design strategies connecting the users with nature.

2D and 3D design sketches  Click to enlarge

Integration of new forms into the existing heritage fabric of the building was inspired by the immersion of objects into water and their tendency to float, be suspended or sink.

Concept/Design Process

Biophilic design was the overarching guiding framework for the Alton Mill Community Centre, while the conceptual approach investigated the idea of immersion. Immersion in nature through the exploration of natural forms and patterns led to the development of the floor plate that approximates Golden ratio in its layout and is inspired by the geometries found in nature. The project incorporates spaces that offer hands-on activities that immerse the users in the experience of nature. Finally, spatial integration of new forms into the existing heritage fabric of the building was inspired by the process of immersion of objects into water and their tendency to either float, be suspended or sink.

Site Plan/Floor Plan(s)

The site is located on a large property, immersed in nature. The building overlooks a large pond, created by damming of Shaw's Creek, which runs through the property. The unique connection of the site to nature reinforces the biophilic design strategies implemented in the interior.

2D map of the building and perimeter  Click to enlarge

Site plan showing the location of the building in relation to major streets and landscape elements.

2D diagrams of the plans for each floor  Click to enlarge

Area plans showing three levels of the building

2D render of the interior of all three levels of the building  Click to enlarge

Elevations of key areas.


Integration of new architectural features into the existing fabric of the building was inspired by the behaviour of objects when immersed in water.

3D Views

3D development of key spaces was guided by the biophilic design framework, which explored concepts, such as human-nature relationships, prospect vs refuge, curiosity and enticement, use of real natural elements and imitation of natural forms.

3D render of two people at a coffee bar  Click to enlarge

Cafe celebrates the existing stone wall with the old plaster finish, which is a character-defining element in the space.

3D render of people in a large circular chamber with light wooden elements  Click to enlarge

Main social space incorporates a Kugel fountain, which serves as a focal design feature and connects the users with nature.

3D render of children in a learning area  Click to enlarge

Interior garden features live plants and incorporates areas for hands-on activities with natural elements. Families and volunteers will be able to help take care of the plants, bringing the community together and celebrating the connection to nature.

poster of the design and development process of the alton mills community centre


The poster highlights key features of the Alton Mill Community Centre.