You may have heard about the word organic, be it vegetables or fruits or maybe other products from your lifestyle that come with this tag. However, ‘organic’ in architecture represents something distinct.

Organic architecture took birth around 1908 and referred to designing the structures and spaces within them that balances with the natural surroundings. Organically built structures are meant to have tailored spaces according to each individual’s required function. Moreover, the design should seem to be merged with the environment as if nature birthed it. 

However, there is a lot more to organic architecture than we might know so, let us read about 10 things you did know about Organic Architecture.

1. Beginning of the Organic Architecture

The name Organic Architecture came into the picture by architect Frank Llyod Wright. He considered that this integration between natural and built worlds is the new thriving paradigm of architecture. Wright had always been left inspired by every element that the natural environment is made of. He used to keenly observe the processes involved in nature and found inspirations to design not only a successful but sustainable ecosystem too.

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Frank Lloyd Wright – Falling Waters, Bear Run Nature Reserve ©en.wikipedia.org

2. The concept behind Organic Architecture

The ancient concept of vernacular architecture must have been heard by everyone, and this style was inherently organic. Forms inspired by the natural elements, and the structures built from simple local materials, make vernacular architecture, the root of organic architecture. 

Furthermore, Ancient Greek and Egyptian civilizations learned about natural forms and human bodies and conceptualized them as geometry. They utilized basic shapes such as circles, triangles, ellipse, and rectangles to make proportions for their temples, shrines, and structures. Even the essential findings, for example, the Golden Section, the logarithmic spiral, the curve of life and growth, consisted of geometry. All of this became the root concept for the Organic Architecture we know. 

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Fariborz Sahba- Lotus Temple, New Delhi, India ©en.wikipedia.org

3. Bionic Architecture instead of Organic Architecture 

Wright’s name instantly comes to mind when we talk about Organic architecture, as he described each of his designs as organic and was responsible for this term to get famous altogether. However, while discussing the meaning behind this kind of architecture in the 1950s, Wright contemplated that if he was given a chance to name his approach, he would have called it Bionic Architecture instead of Organic Architecture. 

He further explained the reason for this name by mentioning the popularity of the word Bionic had, both in science and sci-fi at that period. And it shows that apart from the fact that the bionic word was easy to identify as a slogan, he very well knew that a famous phrase would put him at the forefront of pop culture too.

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Frank Lloyd Wright- Taliesin Spring Green, Wisconsin ©en.wikipedia.org

4. Wright’s Principles

Wright’s principles, prove to be a gem if one needs to understand Organic architecture, are as follows:

  • Space: The building design should protect the inhabitant’s privacy and safety.
  • Shelter: Every area should flow organically from one space to another without dreadful separation, but no space should be fully visible from any angle of view as well.  
  • Nature: Inspiration from the natural environment should not be an imitation of it but should be considered a guide of material, colors, and textures to use. 
  • Peacefulness: The design should complement the landscape and provide the inhabitant a feeling of openness and tranquility. 
  • Language: Wright sighted the form and pattern of a building as grammar in the language of the building. He believed that every single construction should have a unique voice.  
  • Ornamentation: If you want ornamentation in your building, it should effortlessly amalgamate with the building’s form and not look like an afterthought.
  • Simplicity: The design should be made clear with a uniform concept and scheme.
  • Mechanical components and furniture: Mechanical components and furniture: Mechanical components like light fixtures, appliances, plumbing or furnaces, and furniture must be thought of as a built-in aspect of space to get them mixed with the harmony of design.
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Frank Lloyd Wright- Kentuck Knob, Pennsylvania ©en.wikipedia.org

5. Modernist path to Organic Architecture

In the second half of the 20th century, the concept of organic architecture was taken to new heights by Modernist architects. These designs saw new forms and material usages, such as concrete and cantilever trusses. Antoni Gaudi, a Spanish architect, was such a modernist architect whose work is counted in organic architecture. 

In addition to that, other famous works that describe the modernist approach to organic architecture well, are Danish architect, Jorn Utzon’s Sydney Opera House, and Finnish architect, Eero Saarinen’s Dulles International Airport that has a stunning roof inspired by wings of a bird.

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Antoni Gaudi- Casa Milà, Barcelona, Spain ©en.wikipedia.org
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Eero Saarinen- Dulles International Airport, Virginia, U.S.

6. A myth about this style of Architecture according to Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright, for almost seven decades of this revolution, insisted that organic architecture is not a kind of a style as we call it. Along with this belief, he also advocated another thing. Even though he was mentored by Louis Sullivan, who promoted form follows function throughout his life, Wright was in total disapproval of that. He claimed that form and function are one, and this should be the basis of organic architecture and consider it as a style.

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Robert Oshatz-Wilkinson Residence, Portland, Oregon ©archello.com

7. Curved and Free-form: Another misconception

Organic Architecture is all about curved and uncanny shapes- one of the common false impressions. People often relate organic architecture to the free-flowing forms and claim every curvilinear building to be organic. Studying Frank Lloyd Wright’s building, who is the practitioner of this architectural concept, rarely could we find a curved structure. Even his curves are based on circles, which is a strict geometric shape.

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Bruce Goff- Bavinger House, Norman, Oklahoma ©en.wikipedia.org

8. Mistaken belief- It’s inherently sustainable 

More mistaken conceptions about organic architecture are that it is naturally sustainable, and using brick and greenery makes a building organic. Environmentally sustainable design should be essential for all architecture ventures, whether it is organic or otherwise. Furthermore, even an organic architectural design is made sustainable, it is not an inherent characteristic.

Talking about using brick or greens solely in your building and calling it organic will not be a correct affirmation. Steel or glass buildings can be organic too, as these materials could be recycled to build again.

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E. Fay Jones- Thorncrown Chapel, Eureka Springs, Arkansas

9. Early propositions of Organic-ness

According to Wright, “A knowledge of the relations of form and functions lies at the root.” and he explained the same by six propositions:

  • A building should grow from the site and should be designed as if nature created it as per the surrounding landscape.
  • Color must be taken from the fields and the woods to accompany the natural forms.
  • The materials should be displayed freely.
  • A building should be filled with honesty. 
  • The design of a building should be simplified by visualizing different rooms to be one open area and the start working on it.
  • An architect should design the doors and windows as a part of the structure, considering them as the ornamentation depicting the personality of the people who would be living in it.
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Patrick Arotcharen- Quiksilver Europe office, France

10. Architects other than Frank Lloyd Wright

  • Bart Prince
  • Bart Prince Residence and Studio, Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Dale and Margo Seymour Residence, Los Altos, California
  • Fu Residence, Rio Rancho, New Mexico
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Bart Prince- Bart Prince Residence and Studio, Albuquerque, New Mexico ©en.wikipedia.org
  • Bruce Goff
  • Riverside Studio, Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • Turzak House, Chicago, Illinois
  • Ledbetter House, Norman, Oklahoma
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Bruce Goff- Turzak House, Edison Park ©en.wikipedia.org
  • Nari Gandhi
  • Daya residence, Mumbai 
  • Patel residence, Surat
  • Gateway to Mosque, Kolgaon
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Nari Gandhi- Alibaug Villa, Maharashtra, India ©www.architecturaldigest.in
  • E. Fay Jones
  • Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel, Bella Vista, Arkansas
  • Shaheen-Goodfellow Weekend Cottage, Eden Isle, Arkansas
  • Pinecote Pavilion, Picayune, Mississippi
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E. Fay Jones- Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel, Bella Vista, Arkansas ©en.wikipedia.org
  • Kendrick Bangs Kellog
  • The Onion House, Hawaii
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Kendrick Bangs Kellog- The Onion House, Hawaii ©en.wikipedia.org
Author

Tanvi Gupta is a young fresher architect and a former KVian from Bikaner,Rajasthan. She is very fond of sustainable architecture. She is a nature lover and loves to read books. She is introvert by nature with lots of dreams.

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