Nature has been the biggest inspiration for architecture throughout history, and every era finds its way to respond and adapt to nature while maintaining the humanistic identity and efficiency of the structure. One of the contemporary approaches that got influenced by nature is Biomorphic Architecture. It is a modern architectural style that adopts the idea of embracing natural shapes and patterns into the architecture. Biomorphism aims at turning naturally organic shapes into functional structures. It is also called Bio-organic architecture that has its essence in the works of leading figures in the Art Nouveau movement.
So, here are 10 examples of Biomorphic Architecture around the world.
1. Sagrada Família | Biomorphism
Location: Barcelona, Spain.
Architect: Antoni Gaudi.
Year: 1882 construction began, unfinished till now.
It is a large Roman Catholic Minor basilica that combines Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms. The church hosts many features that are inspired by nature. One of the facades (The Passion Façade) is characterized by the use of bare stone that is carved with rigid straight lines to resemble the bones of a skeleton. Even for the interior structure, the branching columns in the nave are intended to mimic the shape of trees and branches.
2. Lotus Temple
Location: Delhi, India.
Architect: Fariborz Sahba.
The Lotus Temple a Baháʼí House of Worship. It is distinctive among all other Baháʼíplaces of worship thanks to its iconic shape. The structure is composed of 27 free-standing marble-clad mirroring the shape of petals. They are arranged in clusters of three that form the nine sides of the outer shell of the temple. The nine doors open into a central hall that can host up to 1,300 people.
3. TWA Flight Center | Biomorphism
Location: New York City, USA.
Architect: Eero Saarinen and Associates.
Year: 1962 Operated as Terminal & 2019 Opened as a hotel.
It is an airport terminal and hotel complex at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). Its form is inspired by a bird’s wings. The roof structure consists of 4 shells: Two side ones slanting upwards and the other two smaller ones slanting downwards towards the back and the front of the terminal. Saarinen wanted the structure to be a symbol that depicts the sensation of soaring into flight.
Location: Beijing, China.
Architect: Herzog & de Meuron, Arup Sport, China Architectural Design & Research Group
The Stadium was designed to host the 2008 Summer Olympics and Paralympics and intended to be used again in 2022. It is popularly known as the Bird’s Nest. The design was originally inspired by the study of Chinese ceramics by implementing steel beams to conceal the supports for the roof skylight, giving the stadium its current distinctive appearance. The stadium can accommodate more than 80,000 people.
5. Orquideorama Botanic Garden | Biomorphism
Location: Medellín, Colombia.
Architect: Plan B Arquitectos + JPRCR Arquitectos.
The structure embraces the relation between architecture and living organisms in nature. The project targets biomorphic architecture in both the micro and macro scale. The microscale is perceived as the material organization of the honeycomb-like structure. It allows the structure to grow module by module. The macro-scale is conquered by providing the visitors with an environmental phenomenon through the feeling of the forest extension. It is built as a hollow trunk with an upper hexagonal shape for shading. The structure blends without giving a distinction between natural and artificial.
6. Iidabashi Subway Station
Location: Tokyo, Japan.
Architect: Makoto Sei Watanabe.
Iidabashi Station is an important interchange railway station. It extends through Tokyo’s Chiyoda, Shinjuku, and Bunkyō. The structure of the façade and the interior spaces mimics living plants. The building behaves like a plant, in which the seed is embedded in the soil symbolizing the space below the ground and when it hits the surface of the ground, it blooms like a flower forming what is called the WING. WING acts as a ventilation tower that adopts all the ventilation and air-conditioning equipment of the station. The ceiling is covered with “web frames”, which are steel pipes painted with fluorescent green for lighting. It serves as the respiratory system for space below the ground.
7. Aqua Tower
Location: Chicago, USA.
Architect: Gang Studio.
It hosts a hotel, offices, rental apartments, condominiums, and parking. Besides having one of Chicago’s largest green roofs, Aqua emphasizes the connections between people and the city. Taking inspiration from striated limestone outcropping which is a traditional feature in the Great Lakes region. The façade accordingly undulates in and out. Floor slabs across the height tower extend differently according to use, views, and sunlight creating an undulating and sculptural elevation. Nevertheless, the tower’s façade achieves the maximum solar shading by these terrace extensions.
8. Selfridges Department Store
Location: Birmingham, UK.
Architect: Future Systems.
A great example of biomorphism and innovative and excellent architecture. Since its opening, it has been listed every year as one of the top 100 stores to visit throughout the world by Retail Week magazine. Its strapping,
organic, bulbous form is elevated above the street and covered with aluminum disks that are installed over a blue-colored backdrop. Several levels up, A tongue-like footbridge is attached to the building and connects to an adjacent parking structure.
9. Milwaukee Art Museum
Location: Milwaukee, USA.
Architect: Santiago Calatrava.
It is a war memorial that overlooks Lake Michigan. The two lower floors are dedicated to an art gallery that hosts over 25,000 works of art from antiquity to the present. Calatrava proposed a pavilion-like construction on the same axis as Wisconsin Avenue which is the main street of central Milwaukee. The Quadracci Pavilion contains a kinetic structure, a wing-like brise-soleil that opens up and closes like the wings of a huge bird. The glass-steel structure reclines over a huge concrete ring beam that serves as a great entrance for the museum without the interruption of columns.
10. Santiago Calatrava’s Hemispheric | Biomorphism
Location: Valencia, Spain.
Architect: Santiago Calatrava.
It is an IMAX Cinema, planetarium, and laserium. It is also popular as “The eye of knowledge”. It is a hemisphere that resembles a giant eye. The structure depicts the form of an eyelid that opens to access the surrounding water pool. The bottom part of the pool is glass, so at night the hemisphere is reflected on the water to form a whole eye. The transparent roof is supported by concrete arches that tie up the whole structure together.