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Indoor Atrium Guide

Indoor Atrium Guide: What You Need To Know About Indoor Atriums

The atrium was the centerpiece of the home in Ancient Rome and now in modern times, it’s making a comeback, both in homes and in commercial spaces.  Why? Because studies have shown that exposure to nature increases productivity, reduces stress, and makes us healthier.

In this ever-changing world, people have always looked for a way to embrace the contemporary, while preserving the richness of nature.  In ancient times, atriums were created to allow natural light and ventilation into the home.

The open roof design allowed air to circulate within the room while rainwater was collected in a central pool for aesthetic and cooling purposes.

In ancient Roman homes, the atriums were lavishly decorated and used for business and pleasure.  As time went on, the atrium architectural design became common in churches and public places as open courtyards with aisles on all sides.

In modern-day architecture, atriums morphed into a room with glass walls and roof to create the connection between the sky and nature.  The modern glass enclosed atriums create a space of beauty filled with plants and allow for the sun to shine through.

Indoor Atrium Guide Nature

Today, atriums serve many purposes both in beauty and functionality.  The architectural design is often used in main entries, circulation areas, and as special destinations within buildings in large cities.  The modern atrium has limitless potential and endless possibilities.

Modern Day Atriums Serve Four Main Roles

  1. Urban Role

Cities today are viewed as “concrete jungles”, heavily influenced by modern improvements and efficiencies.  As towering skyscrapers crowd the urban landscape there has been a need for eco-friendly construction, and a return to including nature.

As glass manufacturing innovations have improved, atriums have become more and more popular, especially as beautiful additions to large buildings.

Atriums are the centerpiece of many city structures, creating spaces that attract people and improve the urban landscape.

  1.  Architectural Role

Usually, when we think of atriums we think of the aesthetic benefits, but their functionality in providing closeness to nature should not be ignored.   Construction of vast modern-day atriums is much more impressive than their ancient Roman counterparts.

Modern atriums are huge glass rooms that can include water features and climate-controlled plant installations that are protected from the weather but create a natural-feeling environment.

This iconic design can be seen in many buildings in the world like the Royal Library in Copenhagen.

Indoor Atrium Guide Roles

  1. Spatial Role

Atriums are widely known for their spacious design concepts, allowing architects to freely create various spaces all around the structure.

The gigantic Eaten Center in Toronto is a great example of how an atrium space can be diversely and powerfully used.  The Eaten Center has everything coming off the central atrium, from offices and parking to galleries, showing how versatile space connected to an atrium can be.

  1. Climate Role

Sustainability has become more and more important not only in atriums but also in architecture in general.  With the transparent or often open roof design of atriums, people can enjoy nature no matter what the weather is like outside.

Atriums with glass canopy designs have become more popular because of their dual functionality.  Studies cited in Progressive Architecture show they reduce heat up to 57%. And the natural light, encouraging plant growth, enhances health and well-being.

Modern architectural and material breakthroughs have helped atriums push through to become one of the most innovative architectural designs we have today. From materials to construction, down to the last detail, atriums have brought a natural and sustainable element to urbanized space.

There are many factors to consider in building not only a beautiful atrium but also a successful one.

It is also important to note that not all atriums are one and the same.  Designs can greatly vary, both in color palette, going from calm subtle greens to vibrant mixed flowering plants, and in motif, from arid and desert-like to tropical.

Indoor Atrium Guide Color

Indoor Atrium Guide – Choosing Plants for Atriums

With the controlled climate atriums offer, an atrium enables the creation and care of a garden that is protected from unpredictable bad weather.  It can create a home for plants that are very delicate and can only survive in specific climates, such as tropical species and exotic flowers.

Atriums also offer a number of health benefits to humans.  According to the Associated Landscape Contractors of America, indoor plants can help improve air quality by removing pollutants and chemicals from the indoor air.

When choosing plants for an atrium consider these factors:


This refers to the amount of sunlight the plants need to survive or how much they will receive.  There are a variety of plants that are better off away from direct sunlight such as Boston fern, Peace lily, Rubber plant, and English Ivy. They are best placed where the light is blocked by other taller plants, panels, or even windows.

In contrast, there are plants that love the warmth of the sun including Croton, Cordyline, Hoya, and Ravenna palm to name a few.  These plants can withstand direct sunlight or sunlight through a glass plane.

Planting Medium and Containers

Planters are essential, especially when atriums are to be filled with large plants or will be placed in bulk.  Using compost and gravel helps to keep a humid atmosphere for the tropical plants. It is important to have planters that have drainage holes to help prevent over-watering.

Indoor Atrium Guide Plants


In addition to the aesthetics, it is also a good choice to include height in your plant choice, like climbing vines and taller plants/trees.

Tropical atriums do well with Madagascar jasmine and snowdrift clematis while in moderate climates, Asparagus ferns that can climb up 10-20 feet and even hardy bamboo palms are great choices to grow huge and healthy in the atrium.

For the most successful, heath atrium, it is essential that each individual plant choice have an equal amount of consideration.  Taking note of whether a plant requires low light, moderate light, or high light is important.

Also, it is very important to know the proper amount of water each individual plant needs. There are more things to consider as well, such as humidity and ventilation.

Room temperature is also an essential factor, and this is directly related to the placing of the plants not only for beauty purposes but also functionality. Taking note of what temperatures your exotic plants flourish best in will help create a successful growing environment.

Overall, it is best to research your plant choices carefully, to avoid wasting time, effort, and yes, money.

Atriums can enhance an indoor space, bringing in natural light and the feeling of the outdoors.  With all the right planning, materials, structure, and attention to detail, one can create a thriving atrium.

Or, call in a professional experienced in atrium design, like INSIDE PLANTS, INC. and reap the benefits of being close to nature; more productivity, better health and less stress.

Tags; Indoor Atrium Guide; indoor atrium design, indoor atrium plants, indoor atrium care, atrium plant care and maintenance

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