Several designers and thinkers have begun to re-formulate the essence of the pre-existing mergers of nature and architecture, all to redefine the natural fabric into pure architectural marvels! Below listed are 10 such examples of amalgamations of nature and architecture:
Nature /’nei-tər/ noun
In the broadest sense possible, ‘Everything is Nature’ – the natural world and the physical world, that is, the entire universe. Nature, or as some may refer to as ‘Mother Nature’, is the one singular entity whose brainchild is the extravagant work of art we are living in, as she creates the most fascinating of beings and plays with the most other-worldly of a phenomenon – she is the true architect.
Everything in Nature is Architecture – the entropic arrangement of trees in a forest, the hexagonal pods in a beehive, the composition of straw and leaves in a bird’s nest, everything! However, for humans, architecture has now been reduced to the buildings and cities and that is all. Now while we are making strides in the development of biomimetic architecture, we forget that the said field is a fraction of the intelligent dialogue that should exist between the structure, the site, and its climate. Thankfully, though, several designers and thinkers have begun to re-formulate the essence of the pre-existing mergers of nature and architecture, all to redefine the natural fabric into pure architectural marvels!
Below listed are 10 such examples of amalgamations of nature and architecture:
1. The Helix Bridge
At the Marina Bay in Singapore, the Helix Bridge is as envisioned by COX Architecture. Inspired by the geometric arrangement of a DNA strand, the architects successfully created a structure that extracts the physical integrity of such a composition and realized it as a medium to bridge over as a pedestrian walkway. As a genius example of biomimetic architecture, the Bridge is not just delicate to sight due to its organic form, but also lightweight and incorporates a helical light fixture to further accentuate its curvilinear helical shape, to help shine the abstraction of its relation to everyone around it and nature.
2. Elytra Filament Pavilion
Installed in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, the pavilion is an integration of architecture and engineering surrounded by the principles of biomimicry. Composed of 40 hexagonal cells with biologically influenced and technologically manipulated fibers, the likes of which have been inspired from the forewing shells of the flying beetles, Elytra; the structure is one that till date, reserves its characteristics of exploiting the transferable properties of architecture and nature to the full extent.
3. Rocknave Teahouse
As a build that blossomed out of the excavation, it is one that owes its existence to the site entirely. Set in the same stone it sits on, the Rocknave Teahouse is a prized design of Trace Architecture Office, built-in Shandong, China. Composed of a series of volumes topped with a weathering steel roof terrace, the structure overlooks a 360-degree view of its surrounding over the canopy. That being its aerial plane, the underside to it is the place where the play of spaces with nature happens. With a view of the cut rock and the pair of towering trees that subtly prompt the user to realize its organic composition as a manipulation of the site and the rock itself, the teahouse blends in with the surrounding topography just enough to define its docile edifice.
4. BIQ Building
This building, with Bio-Intelligent Quotient (BIQ), is located in Hamburg, Germany, and one of a kind due to its prototypical nature with a bioreactor façade as an experiment. While in the interior, it is but a cube set in concrete with reconfigurable and function-neutral zones, the exterior of the building quite literally brings nature into itself and embodies it. With algae that fulfill the functions a service system would play by its innovative positioning in the panels on the outside, The Algae House is consequently kept warmer during the long Hamburg winters and at the same time, it manages to materialize the concept of directly morphing nature into the architecture itself.
5. The Seed Cathedral
The UK Pavilion for the Shanghai World Expo 2010 was designed by Heatherwick Studios, and in close collaboration with the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, UK. Endorsing the idea of invisibility as are the elements of nature, the very fragmentation of it is what conceives the totality of the design. With seeds encased at the tips of the mechanized optic fibers, the architects brought in an iconic Seed Cathedral and multi-layered landscape treatment for a rare kind of architecture with a mix of the biomimetic and the biophilic kind.
6. Istanbul Forest Park
Still, a proposal, the Istanbul Forest Park is a design imagined by the architects at Studio DROR; it is a playful composition of spiral ramps, encircling around the trees with hammocks, trampolines, and swings. The visionary creators broke the tenet of biophilic design of ‘living with a living element around us’ by transforming it into ‘being an element within a living being’, that is, in this case, us within the entire forest itself.
7. Wenchuan Earthquake Memorial Museum
Designed by Cai Yongjie in the Sichuan province of China, the Wenchuan Earthquake Memorial Museum stands as an homage to the several thousand lost to the quake of 2008. Through a creative arrangement of spaces within the earth, all aligned along the supposed fissures, the architect seeks to bring the visitor closer to the very natural phenomenon that is the basis of its creation by fusing it with landscape architecture. A museum is a place that also gifts the visitor spaces to sit down, reflect and contemplate not just about the victims, but also the event itself, and hence, a building that alters the very sense of biophilic architecture.
8. Milwaukee Art Museum
Much like the other works of Santiago Calatrava, The Milwaukee Art Museum is inspired by nature. Overlooking Lake Michigan in Wisconsin, USA, the museum comprises the central building with a pavilion atop that features a kinetic structure that resembles the wings of a great bird, one that opens up to herald the new inaugurals. It also has a singular pedestrian bridge, again inspired by nature, looking like the soaring mast of a sailboat and a curving single-story galleria reminiscent of a wave, all of it deepening the peculiarly composite inspiration it was imagined upon and thus, adding to its meta relationship with nature.
9. Living Root Bridge
Majorly located in the state of Meghalaya, India, the living root bridges are simple suspension bridges constructed over time through aided inosculation, that is, physical entanglement and fusing of the roots of the fig trees across the cliffs, over a stream. Being the very definition of bringing architecture to nature and morphing of the organic fabric to create a way is truly the superlatives of the amalgamations of nature and architecture.
10. Silk Pavilion
This biologically inspired fabrication is one that directly utilizes nature and in particular, by subtly taming the mechanized processes of silkworms, the designer Neri Oxman and her team at MIT Media Labs created the Silk Pavilion in an attempt to realize her vision for architecture that adopts material ecology as the foundation over today’s material construction.
For one to draw the lines between the above-mentioned examples of architectural geniuses where some use the principles of the workings of nature directly, while some re-interpret it to their innovative limits and some use nature itself in their design, one must realize that this is not all! For a field that has seen the most development in the past decade, with sub avenues lighting up every day as we discover new places, unique habitats, and mysterious creatures, we must delimit our minds and look for every possible and impossible answer to the question – how else can we take architecture to nature?