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A Res ea r ch a nd E d u ca ti o n a l cen tre: Explo rin g the connectio n b etween th e N a tu ra l Envir onment a nd A rch i tectu re. Lear ning from the mysteries of nature A b i g a i l Ja n i s ch _6 8 3 8 7 4

A Res ea r ch a nd E d u ca ti o n a l cen tre: E xp loring the Cconnectio n B etween th e N a tu ra l E nvir onm ent a nd A rch i tectu re.

Lear ning from the mysteries of nature.

Abig ail Janisch 683874 Master of Architecture (professional) Research Re por t







I would like to thank my parents, for continuously supporting me through this tough and rewarding journey. I love you endlessly. Thank you to my sister, for putting up with all the architectural jargon and the crazy work hours. You’re a star and I love you Ahiru. Many thanks to Christos Daskalakos, my patient supervisor, for all the crits and encouragement, and for always pushing my designs further and better. I couldn’t have done this without you. Thank you to all my friends and peers for the critique, motivation and support. I am eternally grateful.





I, Abigail Janisch, am a student registered for the course Master of Architecture (Professional) in the year 2017. I hereby declare the following: I am aware that plagiarism [the use of someone else’s work without permission and/or without acknowledging the original sources] is wrong. I confirm that the work submitted for assessment for the above course is my own unaided work except where I have stated explicitly otherwise. I have followed the required conventions in referencing thoughts, ideas, and visual materials of others. For this purpose, I have referred to the Graduate School of Engineering and the Built Environment style guide. I understand that the University of the Witwatersrand may take disciplinary action against me if there is a belief that this is not my unaided work or that I have failed to acknowledge the source of the ideas or words in my own work.

Date: _______________________ Signed: __________________________________

This document is submitted in partial fulfilment for the degree: Master of Architecture (Professional) at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2018.


abstract summar y a res earch and educati onal centre : ex plor ing the co nn ection b etween the natu ral env i ronm ent and archi tectu re lear n in g from t h e mys teri es of natu re

There has always been a relationship between the natural world and the built environment. From the start, shelter was about creating enclosure, an inside that separated space from the outside. Therefore, a distinction was made between the two. Materials, light, texture, volume, and many others all originate in nature and they are the elements of design. The link to nature exists whether it is intended or not. There is an interplay between the environment and the building in most design, whether it is a traditional porch pushing out into the landscape, or a planted atrium space in the middle of a building. The point of this research is to explore an increasingly blurred line between the two. If space was more arbitrary, and the natural world integrated seamlessly into buildings so that the architecture behaved like an organism in context, perhaps we could better benefit from the environment.

Genius loci or spirit of place has a soothing and mythic quality to it, and it comes from a connection to location (context). Context begins as nature, so finding a re-connection to nature may be the key to creating genius loci in buildings. Some architecture manages to capture this spirit as well, fitting into the character of its context so that it exudes this quality. In order to connect better to ourselves, others and the environment, we should improve this connection. It is often lost as a result of a fast and cheap driven economy which began in the modern era with the industrial revolution. We can avoid the repetition of homogeneous architecture if we pursue designs that are well-suited to their landscape, becoming harmoniously one with the surroundings. When a design is responsive to the environment and the potential users, it becomes an experience of place.

09 Various movements in the past focused on the natural world in pursuit of better design and genius loci. In particular, phenomenology, organic architecture and critical regionalism all acknowledged the importance of connecting to the environment. They borrow ideas from nature to connect better to their given environment. In studying these movements and their case studies, this research will attempt to find an approach to architecture that maximizes this link. Biophilia, an innate love of nature, is what possibly drives us towards this connection. By studying the effects nature has on people, we can prove that a closer design to nature is necessary. Physical, emotional and spiritual well-being can be improved through a better connection to nature, shown by many scientific studies in this research. People spend a great deal of time in the built environment. However, when people seek an escape or vacation, they find nature to be their retreat rather than the urban city. The atmosphere of the building has the ability to transform those within, making people tense and depressed or comfortable and happy. If our buildings were more tranquil and inspiring like the natural world, people’s daily wellbeing and experiences would also improve. There is no reason that our architecture cannot be an extension of the natural world. This research explores techniques and design tools to maximize the natural experience. Nature has many elements to evoke emotion and character of place, and we can manipulate these in the same way in our architecture. In this way, a variety of toolboxes will be compiled for the final design approach. They come from studying movements and casestudies that reiterate over and over again what the

successful approaches can be. The connection to nature is important on many levels. It improves wellbeing and mood. It supports sustainability by being contextually responsive and naturally intelligent. It improves aesthetic, bringing distinct genius loci to the space. It encourages people to gather and connect with each other and the environment. In this way, the benefits are scientific and romantic. Efficiency is increased, cost and pollution decreased through passive built responses. People flourish in space and enjoy an emotive experience of place. Nature can lead to an architecture that satisfies people’s needs on all levels and the needs of the environment. The latest technology in Biomimicry seeks to emulate nature in order to create better, more sustainable solutions. It looks to nature as a teacher on architectural and engineering levels. Nature works in perfect harmony, using cyclic processes that do no damage. If we connect to nature on all scales, our buildings can function like living organisms. Biomimicry is the last level of the research, using it as an architectural design approach for the best natural connection. There is so much that can be learned from nature, and that is why a Research and Educational Centre will teach people about the benefits of nature. The program will combine a botanical gardens with educational and recreational facilities. The design will explore the edge between city and nature, pushing the boundaries of how nature and building meet and connect. In this way, in ambiguous space, people will question the nature of ‘inside’ and learn more about what the environment can do for us.



Figure 11a





01 pg04 pg06 pg08 pg12

Acknowledgements Declaration Abstract Contents

02 pg14 pg24 pg30

Introduction Research Nature vs. Landscape

03 pg34

Genius Loci

04 pg52 pg64 pg72 pg86 pg96 pg102

Biophilia Green Building Nature meets Architecture Design Toolbox Reclaimed by Nature Nature and Sustainability


05 pg120

Organic Architecture

06 pg134


07 pg150

Critical Regionalism

08 pg162

Analysis and Comparison

09 pg170 pg194

Biomimicry Life’s Principles

10 pg208


11 pg214 pg224 pg236 pg306 pg316 pg336 pg348 pg358

Precedents Program and Feasibility Visual Analysis Sustainable Aspects Architectural Response Technical details Diagrams and Models Design Applied

12 pg366 pg370 pg392

Literature Review References Appendices


Figure 15a





A Research and Education Centre: Exploring the connection between Nature and Architecture Learning from the mysteries of nature



“We shape our buildings, Thereafter they shape us.” ~Winston Churchill (1944)~

Winston Churchill’s words have become the foundation of my research.1 As architects, we have the conscious power to shape the buildings we create. “The meaning of the quote itself is, first of all a building is a result of the design of the architect’s ideas, but over time after the building was occupied, people who live and work in it take the quality of the buildings they live in.” (Paramitha, 2011) Buildings shape the minds and lives of those who experience them. In this way, architecture can change people, and changing people is the first step to changing the world. In a world where so many buildings have the same ‘shape’, one has to wonder what impact they have on people. There are buildings which

1 Churchill said his famous quote in a speech in the House of Commons on October 28, 1944. He believed in the power of architecture to shape people’s lives as they experience it.

deny us the pleasure of beautiful space and remove our connection to the world we live in.2 Separating us from the beauty of our natural world and superimposing dull and formless boxes onto it is not the way that we change people. The difference between a boxed room with a window looking down on industrial roofs and one that allows plenty of natural light with a garden view and fresh cool air blowing inside seems obvious. One enhances the state of being, one drains it. Finding balance between the organic world and the built environment is where the remarkable shapes will come from, and these shapes that move away from the ordinary will promote extraordinary change.

2 There are indeed buildings that provide us with this connection, but there are equally buildings which remove our link to natural and beautiful space.


Figure 19a


Figure 20a

21 In the past, shelter was created as a separation from the natural world in an effort to protect ourselves from the elements. This goes back to the first existence of man seeking a safe and comfortable space to live away from harsh environmental factors. Nowadays, as sustainability becomes more relevant, we are moving to integrate with nature rather than disconnect from it. Before electricity and air conditioning, we had to rely on the building’s design to provide passive lighting, heating and cooling. This symbiotic relationship with nature is what we are returning to, and not just for efficiency reasons. Studies have shown the countless benefits that nature has on the human psyche as well. These studies will be explored in further detail in later chapters. Nature improves cognitive function, the immune system and emotional state. This is just

to name a few. Biophilic architecture is important for the future of humanity’s well-being on all levels: body, mind and spirit. In terms of advancing technology, the natural world is an endless resource of solutions to challenges we face nowadays, and the science of Biomimicry is allowing us to learn from them. The part of nature, however, that I am most interested in, is the impact on the human spirit. This is the most elusive aspect, captured rarely in architecture. My research aims to find how connecting to nature can influence the spirit and enhance a ‘Spirit of Place’ in architecture. Places that have this ‘spirit’ are the ones with the power to move and alter people and indeed ‘shape’ them.

“We all celebrate its wonder, the beauty of spaces that indeed move us to rapture. We recoil from the for ms that are transparently ugly, conceived in g reed, constr ucted in a fever of unconsciousness.” Trav is Pr ice (2 0 0 6 , p1 5 )



“The spaces where life occurs are places‌ A place is a space which has a distinct character. Since ancient times the genius loci, or spirit of place, has been recognized, as the concrete reality man has to face and come to terms with in his daily life. Architecture means to visualize the genius loci and the task of the architect is to create meaningful places, whereby he helps man to dwell.â€? (Ralph, 2015)


Figure 23a




This research forms a narrative, beginning with genius loci, since it emphasizes the important link to context. Other movements that sought this link are studied and the path to connect better to nature is analyzed through many examples. This all leads to a collection of tools that can be used to design a building that recognizes nature and maximizes the benefits from designing within it.


The research path taken, including all sources used to answer the pursued question: How do we learn from nature (and monopolise it’s many benefits) to strengthen the connection between the built world and the environment, and in doing so, strengthen the connection to spirit of place and our own spirit. The main purpose of this research is to explore the threshold between nature and architecture to determine the extent and limitations of their relationship. Internal space is defined by boundaries that separate the enclosure from the outside world. There are a number of ways that this link is approached, compiled in detail later in the research. For example, some boundaries are impermeable, blocking views and access with enclosure for the sake of shelter and protection. There are semi-permeable barriers such as windows that connect outside visually and allow air-flow, but prevent accessibility. The fully permeable boundary is invisible, allowing full movement between both spaces. These are

the three levels of separation with the outside, but even these can be used to blur the boundary between inside and outside. There are ways that the built environment spills into the natural world and vise versa. Balconies push outwards, covered or uncovered, and create space to enjoy the outside. Gardens that creep inside, either in potted plants or planted walls, bring the natural world into a controlled environment. These are gestures that start to blur the line between them. Why do we need or want to connect with the outside world? What is the necessity? This research will explore the multidimensional benefits that nature can have on



research themes and questions • th is r esea r ch will exp lo re th e co nn ecti on between archi tectu re and natu re i n purs u it o f an architectu re that evokes s pi ri t of pl ace. • the connection to natu re in s pires a g reater connecti on to the i nne r s pi ri t, to o th ers and to th e env i ronm ent.

humanity. These range from physical well-being to better psychological responses to emotional connections being encouraged to soothing the spirit. These benefits make us realize how important it is to avoid environmental separation. The research begins with spirit of place. This is the context and the character it possesses. Context is nature, and in connecting to our original context, we can bring genius loci into our architecture. This is shown through the analysis of architects’ theories about seeking and creating genius loci. People and architecture can be more balanced if the natural world is prioritized. This is with body, mind and spirit, since they all benefit from the environment. This is explored through Biophilia, our innate love of nature that is both scientific and spiritual. These introduce the importance of connecting to nature.

The next chapters explore sustainable practices and how architecture and nature connect on a design level. It goes on to explore current ways of including nature as well as the way nature is capable of taking over. The connection to nature and green architecture link well since passive design is achieved through natural inclusion. Movements such as organic architecture, phenomenology and critical regionalism agree that the source of great design is the context (nature). In studying these movements and how their buildings were successful, a design toolbox for better linked design can be created. These chapters all focus on studying and extrapolating information that can make for a better final design. The natural world offers us more than beauty and well-being. It is an intelligent source for solving many of the problems we face in the architectural


Figure 27a

world. If we were to integrate seamlessly with nature so that architecture functioned in the same way, we would have a far more sustainable and efficient society. Studies such as Biomimicry take examples set by nature and transform them into clever solutions for architectural, structural and functional issues. Since nature works in closed loop cycles, they are self-sufficient, regenerating and low energy functioning. These are all aspects that are strived for in the built environment. Biomimicry is the culmination of the research, using these ideals to prove the usefulness of the toolbox gathered. Sustainability is achieved by borrowing nature’s genius and transferring it to a design. The context and surroundings, the positive influence of nature, the tools and elements that designers use and the way nature functions can all be used and translated into architecture.

The end result of this research is a building that integrates the landscape with the building so that both function as a single organism. It will pursue a harmonious building that makes inside and outside ambiguous. It will be a unique style that questions the timidity of our current relationship with nature. There is no reason that the two can’t be interconnected in a way that is difficult to differentiate. The separation that causes disconnection and homogeneity in architecture will be replaced by a contextually responsive building. In this way, the building will truly belong in the landscape, becoming one with it and the ongoing processes of the ecosystem. It is the ultimate green architecture.



chapters: reasoning inclusion of each chapter explained. this is the road map of the research, the g oal is a design approach that combines all the knowledg e in a building that creates g enius loci through its natural connection.

Figure 28a



Nature vs. Landscape

Clarify the term ‘Nature’ since it is used throughout the research when referring to the natural environment.

Genius Loci

This is the spirit of a place, and this character comes from the surroundings. The natural context is what this research seeks to respond to, so this chapter clarifies the thinking behind this desire.


The innate draw to nature has many benefits. These can be medical, emotional and spiritual, all essential for human existence. This gives another reason to connect to nature.

Green Building

We currently approach sustainability and nature through green design and a checklist for design inclusions. This explains the relevance of sustainability through nature.

29 Nature meets Architecture

This chapter links the current research and findings and translates it into design thinking.

Design Toolbox

This is the existing toolbox for connecting to nature. This must be understood before it can be expanded and blurred.

Reclaimed by Nature

These are ideas on how to blur boundaries between inside and outside that nature already does without human influence.

Nature and Sustainability

These are specific sustainability practices explained, and examples that are relevant to the building project are used.

Organic Architecture

This movement looks to nature for its forms and inspiration, the same way this research seeks to borrow from nature.


This inclusion is about experience and recreating the character of the context to create genius loci.

Critical Regionalism

This movement recognizes the need to have architecture suit the location, rather than the current homogeneity in universal design.

Analysis and Comparison

This compiles what can be learnt from all the examples in the previous movements. The best and worst aspects can both be teachers.


This movement focuses on learning from nature before we create or design, and is essential for the thinking behind combining all the knowledge gathered.

Life’s Principles

These are principles laid out on how to design a building with the natural world as a model. These are translated directly into the current project.

Design Applied

This shows the possible repercussions of the final design attitude in an RDP house setting.





In order to continue this research, the terms of nature and landscape must be clarified. Since the relationship between the natural world and the built environment is classified as separate, the distinction between raw nature and landscape architecture must be made as well. This chapter explores what the terms mean universally and in the research.


What are the defining characteristics of each term, and how do they differ?


32 Nature, or raw nature, is environment that is untouched by man. It is pristine and exists without human influence. Landscape Architecture is the design of the outdoor environment, using various elements such as plants, paths, stones, etc to create an aesthetically pleasing space. These are the original definitions understood by this research, but they have to be re-interpreted in today’s day and age. This is due to the fact that the line between what is raw nature and what is influenced by humans is becoming increasingly blurred. “Given the scope of humanity’s seven billion-plus members’ reach, it’s hard to imagine that any spots of wilderness remain completely free from our influence.” (Nuwer, 2016)

This has led to a new way of defining what nature is in this research. Natural elements are those which are not created by man. They exist on the planet as the soil, the plants, the water and all living creatures. Without any intervention, they would exist as pristine natural environment today. However, since most landscape has been altered or monitored in one way or another, nature is more controlled. This is done through landscape architecture. People decide where to place or keep trees, grass is kept manicured, flowers and shrubs are planted, stones are rearranged into paths and the natural backdrop is adjusted to suit the function people assign. This is for the sake of aesthetically pleasing space for people to inhabit. “There is increasing recognition that few places on the planet are actually pristine,” says Richard Hobbs, an ecologist at the University of Western

Figure 32a

33 Australia. “Most places are now impacted by human activities, even if this is only indirectly.” (Nuwer, 2016) This research therefore defines nature as the unbuilt context surrounding the proposed building. The natural elements can then be redesigned in that context (around and inside the built environment). This involves the clearing of certain parts of a landscape during construction, and the placement and design of them around the new building as well as within it. This is explored in chapter four with the design toolbox that we borrow from nature. After being altered, the natural elements are still classified as nature, therefore landscaping is the art of designing in nature. The environment can influence people, and we can influence the environment. In this way, we can include nature in design to uplift people and improve their well-being. Nature is a material that can be used, just as man-made materials are considered building-blocks. “A landscape derived from the natural habitat of the region constitutes a natural environment and depends on the type of existing natural surroundings such as a forest or a desert. Such an environment exists even in man’s absence.” (Benzu JK, 2010) Man adjusts this environment, either by merging with the existing natural landscape or creating new ones (parks and gardens). These created landscapes require constant care, making them different from the self-sufficient natural environments. With a balance between allowing nature to proceed as it would, and controlling nature for the sake of aesthetic, one can achieve a more lowmaintenance scheme.

The closest we come to raw natural landscape in our daily life are vacation destinations. The beach, lake-side vacations, hikes over mountains and walks through forests are places where we can connect to nature without too many man-made interventions interfering with the experience. People seek out these natural experiences, finding them a relaxing escape from daily life. However, there are ways to give people a taste of this experience in the midst of a city environment. In some scenarios, landscape has been carefully maintained so that people may enjoy spending time in a safe and tame environment. These are botanical gardens, golf courses and parks. This is clearly still nature, but the wilderness aspect has been changed due to the amount of people that use the space. “Non-pristine places like parks “are generally more accessible than so-called pristine areas, and hence are the ones that humans will interact with – and likely value – most,” he says. “They also make up the most of our planet now, and they still contain a huge and wonderful array of life.” (Nuwer, 2016) This is part of the reason for the design of a type of botanical gardens and research centre in a natural landscape. Nature as a designed or raw element is contrasted by choosing to build on such a site.




This chapter seeks to define genius loci and explain the need to create it in our architecture today. The modernism movement and its roots are discussed to explore the “placelessness� in some of our buildings. Everything finds its origin in nature, so to create genius loci in buildings, we can also look to nature, where it all began.


Spirit of Place:

‘Genius Loci’ is a term meaning “the unique, distinctive and cherished aspects of place.” (Oxford Dictionary, 2017) In architectural terms, this relates to the spaces designed by architects that have a distinct sense of place. “Dwelling therefore implies something more than shelter. It implies that the spaces where life occurs are places, in the true sense of the word. A place is a space which has a distinct character.” (NorbergSchulz, 1984, p5)1 Genius Loci is what creates a ‘Spirit of Place’ and is something people innately feel when they are in a certain place (an authentic, spiritual connection).

1 It is a quality that is studied in detail by Christian Norberg-Schulz in his book ‘Genius Loci’).

Architecture is characterized by its location. The context is all inclusive: cultural, geographical, topographical, economical, political, climatic and situational. (Behnisch, 2015) The building develops from the influence of these and this is what is referred to as genius loci (the spirit of the location). The context for buildings began in nature, and over time, as humanity has made more urban built environments, the natural context has shifted. If the context is ignored, or if the natural location has been demolished, the buildings that result tend to lack a sense of place. “From the 1960s until just recently, we thought we could realize the same architectural solutions all over the world and ignore local conditions.” (Behnisch, 2015) This is the issue with the International style, and will be discussed in detail in this chapter.



g enius loci noun

g enius loci

• th e p revailin g ch aracter o r atm os phere of a pl ace. • th e p res idin g g o d or s pi ri t of a pl ace. noun plural noun: g enii locor um

nou n: g enius loci • the preva i l i ng cha racter or atmospher e of a place. • the pres i di ng g od or spir it of a place. plural noun: g enii locor um

Figure 36a A re-connection to nature is necessary in order to create genius loci that encourages people to connect to the natural world and enjoy all the benefits, from sustainability to overall well-being. “Nevertheless, there is clearly something at work here, some deep resonance of authenticity and meaning that transcends even the history and setting of the site. There is something about the place, instantly perceived if not fully understood, that fires the soul with inspiration.” (Price, 2006, p12)2 If enough people can agree that certain places evoke these emotions, then surely there are distinctive factors which contribute towards it. All people, no matter their differences, can

2 Travis Price wrote the book, ‘The Archaeology of tomorrow, Architecture & the Spirit of Place’, which details the years he spent researching genius loci and the various projects he undertook to create it in his architecture.

Figure 36b share a deep emotion and understanding, and it is possible to evoke this in any one of them. A place that evokes genius loci can be either natural or man-made. Nature possesses the qualities which inspire awe and recognition of a mythic force, and architecture can learn from this and attain the same emotional impact. “Architecture means to visualize the genius loci, and the task of the architect to create meaningful places, whereby he helps man dwell.” (Norberg-Schulz, 1984, p5)3 Space should reflect the users as well as the story and ecology of their context. This is up to architects to design for. If a building has distinct genius loci, it is considered a well-designed object. However, there is currently no concrete or widely-accepted

3 Norberg-Schulz explores the power and potential of architecture to be more than just shelter. Rather, place is designed to move people.


Figure 37a

criteria for deigning a building with genius loci, since it is considered an elusive quality. Over the course of this research, architectural movements that specifically draw inspiration from nature will be studied. Design elements will then be drawn up that work in multiple examples. These will then be extracted and applied to the final design. This is in the pursuit of a building that can exude genius loci by following a design model. The Exeter library in Figure 37a is designed by architect Louis Khan.4 It is a building that exudes spirit of place for a variety of reasons. The building utilizes materials in their raw form, the concrete and timber exuding a natural feel since they do not hide what they are. It is particularly responsive to natural light, making the space

4 Khan’s library is located in Exeter, New Hampshire. It was completed in 1972, and is located on a prep-school campus.

bright and heavenly; appropriately a shining beacon of knowledge. The circular forms break the geometric nature of the building and bring in an organic representation of nature in the form of round portals of light. The interior timber slats also create a forest-like feel, repeating as vertical elements in the library, reiterating the metaphor that a library is like a forest of books. Figure 36a and 36b show how the large central volume brings in the natural light and distributes it through the building. The sun is an abundant resource and natural light can be adjusted to evoke different experiences. Light is one of the key natural materials in creating genius loci. “Only with Louis Khan, however, the true existential dimension has regained true importance, and in his question: ‘What does the building want to be?’, the problem is posed in its essential form.” (Norberg-Schulz, 1984, p6) Volume is another



Figure 38a

Figure 38b

“ I n cla ssica l myth olog y, th e Latin ter m g eni u s l oci ref ers to a protective s pi ri t a tta ched to a pla ce –– a gu ardian who watches over thei r par t of the worl d and i mb u es it with a s p ecial ch aracter. In mod er n real i ty, we s ti l l need to be abl e to i d en tif y a g enius lo ci in o rder to give u s an u nd ers tand i ng of ou r env i ronm ent.”

Figure 38c

39 tool that can make people feel differently in a space. The massive volume in the library makes people feel smaller and awed since it draws attention to their size difference. The forms used, particularly those borrowed from nature, give the building a softer feel. In this case, the circular forms are reminiscent round concentrations of light. This is shown in Figure 38a, 38b and 38c. Other buildings that have genius loci are also in tune with nature and context, similar to Khan’s building. This demonstrates that there might be a way to form a solid connection between these buildings and nature to design a spirit of place into all architecture. “The existential purpose of building (architecture) is therefore to make a site become a place, that is, to uncover the meanings potentially present in the given environment.” (Norberg-Schulz, 1984, p18) Norberg-Schulz explores in great detail the aspects of architecture that will lead architects to genius loci. He breaks down this exploration into a step by step process. The first element to look to is the topography. The site. It is over this that man imposes structure and order. “Any enclosure is defined by a boundary.” (NorbergSchulz, 1984, p13) By creating architecture, or enclosure, we need to define the boundary and parameters. These will be what distinguish the built form with the landscape. Since nature is the first step in design, it makes sense to carry this element through to all the stages. The horizon, ground and sky are extrapolated from nature to create our own walls, floors and ceiling. It is by deciding to build somewhere that a potential space transforms into a place. These places are what we design.

Having sufficient security and shelter is a part of ‘space’, while the character of the site and the way man identifies with it is what defines ‘place’. In the past, having a good relationship with our sites of living was important for survival and the psyche. Unfortunately, modern society for the most part concentrates almost exclusively on the practical side of creating space, rather than the identification with place. Norberg-Schulz poses that architecture will forever be incomplete if it does not concretize genius loci. Human beings naturally require meaning in their existence, making it a fundamental requirement to make architecture with meaning too. Before this connection can be established, the fundamentals of nature need to be understood. These become the second element and begin the design stage. The earth is the foundation of existence, and this connection is why looking to nature can be seen as essential to better design. Elements between the heavens and the earth form places of recognition in the landscape. Rock is a solid and powerful element, seen in the mountains and the soil. Trees and vegetation are alive, growing outward, giving form and character. Water is the reason for the presence of land, vital to life. These three elements create sacred places, according to Norberg-Schulz. This is the primary aspect of nature, ‘things’. He then goes on to talk about structure (the second aspect) being formed by other natural phenomena such as the sun’s movement. We are driven by it and rely on the light it provides. It gives order to life and to how a site functions over time. The third aspect of nature is humans associating natural phenomena with emotions and character. This gives nature symbolism and



defining place “Your sa cr ed space is where you find you rs el f ag ai n and ag ai n and ag ai n.” ~Jo s e p h Cam pbel l ~ 7

Figure 40a meaning, bridging the gap between man and nature. The emotional quality of land is just as important as the physical qualities it possesses. Designing the emotion behind a space is how we get closer to designing genius loci. The fourth is light, as more than a daily reality, but as a symbol of the divine. Light is also ever-changing, its quality affected by the most subtle factors. This gives way to the last element, which is time. Nature goes in cycles and rhythms that we must adapt to.

to our design. We can use these elements to understand our context, and in doing so, better design within it. The thousands of variations of site, topography, landscape, location and elements contained within each form a unique sense of character and place. In studying the textures, colours, forms, lines of movement, and scale of site, we can understand the specific experience of a site. His principles for approaching design and creating place have been successful in a few projects, the Exeter library as one example.

“Thing, order, character, light and time are the basic categories of concrete natural understanding.” (Norberg-Schulz, 1984, p32) These give spacial and emotional parameters

Some buildings that succeed in creating genius loci are located in sacred places for religious purposes. In this sense, creating this experience is necessary for the function. Not all architecture can be designed as carefully as religious architecture or high-budgeted civic buildings, so there has to be a way of creating genius loci even on a smaller scale. Genius loci should be


5 Joseph Campbell was admired by Price for his insight and writings on myth and the human spirit. Spirit of place is where we can continue to find and connect to ourselves.


Figure 41a accessible to all people, allowing them to find a connection to their spirit, as well as a connection to others and their surroundings. There should be no particular type of building to house it either, but rather every building should have the opportunity to evoke it. It should become a fundamental part of universal design. If it is ever to be understood and included as a design requirement, we must try to understand its source better. Often the best way to understand something is to first analyze its opposite. Travis Price has also done research on spirit of place and genius loci, attempting to evoke exactly this in anything he creates. He defines the opposite as “Sprawl, mall and tall.” (Price, 2006, p20)6 These

6 Travis Price identifies the reason that many buildings lack spirit of place is due to ‘Mall, Sprawl and Tall’. These three words are used for modern architecture that lacks spirit.

Figure 41b kinds of buildings exist because of the modern movement. He claims that a lot of modern architecture drains the spirit. In Figure 40a, the cause and result as suggested by Price are shown. “Churchill’s comment that ‘We shape our buildings, thereafter they shape us’ takes on new meaning when we see so many buildings shaped the same. Where does the individuality reside?” (Price, 2006, p20) Some buildings have become repetitive ‘nondescript’ boxes. This is largely due to the era of mass production that went alongside the modern movement. To understand how some buildings came to lack genius loci, the modern movement needs to be unpacked. The international style arose as the modern movement’s style was picked up worldwide. The issue with this, as shown in Figure 41a and 41b, is that skylines and buildings start to look repetetive no matter the location. Genius loci is about

42 the location and designing for a place’s specific characteristic, and this is lost when buildings are the same no matter the context. “The bare and denuded quality of the steeland-glass “boxes” that embodied the style by then appeared stultifying and formulaic.” (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2017) The lack of creativity and the repetitive nature of buildings is the result of a cheap and quick driven economy, where buildings are dictated by consumers, developers and the government. “Isolation and homogeneity are driven by economic pressures and embedded in design decisions. It is easier and cheaper to turn modular, affordable materials into repetitive designs.” (Price, 2006, p20)7 Easy and cheap is the world’s mantra, so most of the repetition and homogeneity of the world is a result of this thinking. Buildings have become products that need to make a profit to be useful. A building is a space for people to spend time in or live in, so treating it as a product is a flawed concept. We can’t go around and fix all the buildings through renovation and redesign, but we can make small areas of connection that change the mind-set of the people using it. To build something that forces people to feel differently and to step away from homogeneity, we need to re-evaluate our design approach. A shot of Johannesburg shown in Figure 43a shows the influence of modern architecture. Boxlike buildings with repeated floors of concrete or brick. Block-like windows or strips of horizontal

7 This view of Travis Price does not apply to all architecture today, but rather to some buildings that lack a unique and spirit-imbued design.

windows going around the facade. Despite its best intentions of allowing for multiple functionality and flexibility, many buildings end up looking the same. They are blank slates for whatever company chooses to start within. Residences are densely packed to accommodate the large city population. Materiality and construction is cheap so that the city space is affordable. Nature has been mostly demolished, giving way to harsh built surfaces. This kind of environment becomes ugly and dull, making the people within miserable and uninspired. There is research that has been done regarding the mental health of city dwellers as opposed to those in more rural areas. “Scientists found that two regions, involved in the regulation of emotion and anxiety, become overactive in citydwellers when they are stressed and argue that the differences could account for the increased rates of mental health problems seen in urban areas.” (Jha, 2011) Anxiety levels are highest for people in these environments, and the built environment is partially to blame. Cities are quite successful on an economic level, offering a better life to many. “On average, city dwellers are “wealthier and receive improved sanitation, nutrition, contraception and healthcare”, wrote the researchers in Nature. But urban living is also associated with “increased risk for chronic disorders, a more demanding and stressful social environment and greater social disparities.” (Jha, 2011) Dense urban environments that are characterized by being crowded, noisy and polluted with tall buildings and hard surfaces are not a natural occurrence. Forests are the closest to this environment in nature, but they are not claustrophobic. The symbiotic relationship


Figure 43a

between living things occurs best with this proximity. The environment succeeds in making everything healthy, despite the density. The question then becomes, what are cities doing wrong? How can we align our buildings with nature so that the urban environment functions better? In doing so, we might also improve the well-being of all who dwell there. We need to return the genius loci to all environments. “Our vision for future buildings is that they will ‘live’ on local resources only, and even more help to improve the local environment in terms of air quality, water quality as well as aesthetical quality. The building should be one system within the natural environment, a “Genius Loci”.” (Vogler, 2006) In order for a building to create a spirit of place, it has to belong in its place and therefore in its context. If the building can be placed anywhere else, there is something wrong.

“An important part of the ‘spirits’ of a place are the environmental energies.” (Vogler, 2006) Architecture that belongs in its environment as an organism by contributing to its context should be prioritized as one of the critical functions of any building. Vitruvius wrote many theories about architecture, but one stands out above the others, and this is his three criteria on what architecture should be. These form the basis of many movements of architecture that followed, including modernism. Venustas, Utilitas, and Firmitas, otherwise known as structure, function and aesthetic. (Reiner-Roth, 2015) Structure is about the building’s endurance over time, and this is fully dependent on the materiality and structure. The primary source of decay to architecture are the forces of nature, so designing within nature is an important aspect of design if the building is to last.


44 Function requires a responsive architecture that is suited to the needs of the user to the extent of being able to predict what they need before they know. This means that the use or program of the project must be carefully considered. “Each of these programs requires a unique relationship to the site, as well as specifically sized rooms and conditions. In 1896, Louis Sullivan interpreted the concept of usefulness in architecture with his famous statement, ‘Form follows function.’” (Reiner-Roth, 2015) Unfortunately the concept of function was lost in translation with functionalist architecture. The problem here is the definition of the function. Form should follow function, but in most cases, they focus on the practical side: the building functioning on the site with its given program. These are the physical aspects and relate to form

and movement in the building. However, the emotional and spiritual functional requirements are just as important and more often ignored. Space has to function best for the user’s emotions and experience. When architecture understands every possible function, it is more successful in creating genius loci. “But the theory of venustas (or beauty) is a very complicated one. Vitruvius thought that a timeless notion of beauty could be learnt from the ‘truth of nature’, that nature’s designs were based on universal laws of proportion and symmetry.” (British Library, 2017) In this way, all three aspects can be learned from studying nature first. Aesthetic is attention to detail, craftsmanship, choice of materials and anything else that influences the overall beauty of the finished product. It is believed that the mass-production

Figure 44a

45 of building elements that emerged is the reason that this is one of the least focused on criteria in modern architecture. Modern Architecture emerged at the end of the 19th century as a result of the industrial revolution. Revolutions in technology, engineering and materiality (such as reinforced concrete, steel and glass) allowed for a new functional architecture to be born. A movement that took advantage of the new inventions of the time was preferred over the historical architectural styles that favoured ornament and old traditions. This movement developed and spread rapidly to become known as the international style, since it was a style that was easily adaptable all around the world. (ET Dankwa, 2000) The advancing technology was highly beneficial, but the ‘soulless’ architecture that came from mass production

of a single solution is the primary criticism for modernism. “The problem is that too few regard space as the content of architecture.” (Griffin,1966) Space, in a functionalist sense, is seen as a result rather than a goal. The physical needs of man relate to the space they will be using, and yet the emotional and spiritual requirements of that space are seen as intangible. Neither functionalism nor space in isolation is architecture. “Architecture is an end result; space is the raw material and functionalism provides the means to the organization of the space.” (Griffin,1966) Various architects interpreted function differently, and it defined the movements that ensued. Le Corbusier, one of the iconic modernist architects, had five main principles that governed

“In g eneral, this means to concretize the g enius loci. We have seen that this is done by means of buildings which g ather the proper ties of the place and bring them close to man. T he basic ar t of architecture is therefore to understand the ‘vocation’ of the place.” (Norberg-Schulz, 1979, p23) As a rchitects, if we can u nders tan d natu re, we can bette r u nd ers tand archi tectu re.

Figure 45a

Figure 45b

46 the way he designed his buildings. He used a simplified mode of construction with support (columns) and slabs above. This was made possible by reinforced concrete being invented. This allowed the free plan to work, since the rooms a slave to the structure. A free façade also developed from this, allowing the structure to be set back from a façade of choice (the two could be separate). The roof garden was the way of bringing nature into the architecture. Large expanses of horizontal windows reinforced the natural connection with views and by bringing in natural light. (Daanico, 2013)8 These have plenty of merit, since they encourage light, passive design and natural growth. When these elements

8 The study done by Daanico is referring to the five vital aspects of modern architecture that Le Corbusier came up with to define the principles of all his future designs.

are added without considering the unique context of each building, however, their value is lost. Price believed that if we could find “the equilibrium of the earth and the spirit and the industrial revolution”, then this balance could create a spirit of place. (Price, 2006, p34) The key here is combining nature, technology and the timeless mythic spirit. After the modern movement, there were three major movements that attempted each of these separately. These were the eco-movement, the post-modern movement and the deconstructivist movement. In their own way, each one tried to reconcile the issues of the modernist movement. Modernism and the Bauhaus style stripped architecture down to functional purpose only. Le Corbusier said, “The house is a machine” and often spoke about “Creating more with less.” This is useful because

Figure 46a

Figure 46b

architecture affects soul “We must explore how architecture today can more appropriately refelct upon, nourish and shape the soul of the moder n man.” ~Travis Price (2006, p166) ~


Figure 47a it encourages minimal materiality and cleaner spaces, however, it also resulted in a few mostly identical box-like buildings.9 The eco-movement looked to nature, enforcing greater care with the environment by encouraging sustainability. We have depleted many of our natural resources through over-use and nonrenewable methods, so the movement aimed to introduce green laws into architecture so that sustainability became the norm. The strict rules improved the green rating, but some of the resulting structures became dull. This is because functionality as the primary objective prevented a balanced design. Since the criteria for a green building is the same globally, architecture that adheres to it tends to look the same.

9 This is on account of similar materials, construction methods and aesthetic choices that make the buildings distinctly modern.

The post-modern movement believed that something was lost in the modern movement, so it looked to the past for the missing piece. It looked at ornament and other traditional building methods to recapture something that might complete the style. The problem with looking back in time at the mythical quality in older buildings is that they become add-ons to modern buildings with little place in the present time. Architecture needs to be responsive to the current context to be successful, but it can draw on successful buildings of the past. The key is once again balance. The deconstructivists challenged normal architecture by using ‘poetics and passion’ and “chaos is the reality.” (Price, 2006, p39) While the architecture created was exciting and stimulating, it could be too chaotic. It focused purely on pushing the boundaries of technology and new



Figure 48a

Figure 48b

49 inventions. This meant that nature and the history of the context was sometimes ignored. Each of these three movements tried a singular approach rather than combining all the elements. Price believes that the key to genius loci in architecture is a combination. “Stillness, the eternal mythical time. Movement, the transient, changing aspects of time. And Nature, time’s perpetual constancy.” (Price, 2006, p16)10 Stillness is about having a constant in our lives. People are often searching for that ‘sense of place’ or ‘spiritual recharge’. Movement is about the rush to live and make the most of our lives before time runs out and it all disappears. With the rapid acceleration of technology, we are quick to adapt to change. Nature is predictable in its cycles and routines, but sometimes it can be completely unprecedented or surprising. A building should be sustainable with a minimal carbon footprint, having a vision for the future, but it must also be more. Responsiveness to context and soft sensibilities to the spirit of the site are equally vital, since this connects to the past and present. Nature is what brings stillness and movement together, and it is the constant. An example of one of Price’s Spirit of Place projects is in Figure 44a and 48a, called Tale of the Tongs, located in Ireland. The memorial is designed to bring back meaning to modern architecture in a steel, glass and local stone building. It brings together local culture, landscape and the history of the clans to create a representation of all the people who live

10 Travis Price defined the opposite of ‘placelessness’ as ‘Stillness, Movement and Nature’, the three keys to genius loci in design.

there. This why there are scattered parts of the memorial all over the landscape, shown in Figure 50a. It hovers over the landscape, the local materials helping it blend into the site. The glass makes the memorial appear to float, giving it a light and sensitive impact on the cliff side as seen in Figure 45a and 45b. In this way, the memorial has the same impact as the rocks on site, appearing as extrusions from the ground. This is how using nature as a resource and reference can create genius loci. 11

Another project by Travis Price that connects with the landscape to evoke spirit of place is the example in Figure 47a and 48b. It is also set in Ireland, called the Thin Places. Traditionally, in their local culture, a thin place refers to a place where reality becomes thin and the supernatural world is accessible. With this in mind, the walls are too close together, making it impossible to walk through. This is a metaphor of the impossibility of moving into the other world. The connection to the sea using the borehole brings together land and sea, another way of connecting people to the place to the mythic. The connection to landscape is created through materials that ground the project, and directional lines that suggest movement and bridging. This is analyzed in Figure 46a and 46b as well as 50b and 50c. Intentionally connecting our buildings to the natural world is how we can strengthen the connection to place. In the past, spirit of place was linked to spirits or deities. In architecture, it is associated with different things. Isis Brook identifies a few aspects that create this

11 This is explained in an overview by CODAworx (2013) and descriptions of the project and its intention are by Travis Price.

50 association. They are authenticity, narrative, local distinctiveness, essence, character, ecosystem and panpsychism. (Relph, 2015)12 Authenticity is a quality of being genuine or true to its nature. Narrative has to do with architecture as a story or experience. The last few have everything to do with the context the building is placed in. This is physical environmental context as well as social, cultural, economic and historical context. These all influence the character and feel of the place. Panpsychism is the belief that all things have their own consciousness, and it is this that contributes to the place. If everything in the context has its own spirit, these elements

12 Although different, Isis Brook’s set of design tools are similar to Travis Price’s requirements to create spirit of place.

will define a specific place’s character. “In general, nature forms an extended comprehensive totality, a ‘place’, which according to local circumstances has a particular identity.” (Norberg-Schulz, 1979, p10) Context is the beginning of place and identity, and it is the foundation upon which all new place (architecture) is built. Price believes that it is the people within the space that we should be designing for. We spend most of our lives in the built environment, and it has become commonplace to be deprived of a true connection to our spirit. Most people brush it off, choosing to rather ignore the spiritual aspects of life due to their religious connotations. Spirit does not have to be about religion, but rather an awareness of the self, others and the environment. It is an appreciation of existence

Figure 50a

Figure 50b

Figure 50c

51 and a care for the living beings of the world. Architecture can be a medium to enhance this connection and even encourage happier and better lifestyles. “Environment affects us. It affects both social and personal health; body soul and spirit. For 90% of our lives, environment means built environment.” (Day, 2002, p5)13 “Less than 3% of the built environment is designed by architects.” (Price, 2006, p28) This is a terrifying statistic, implying that the care and discipline of designing beautiful space is limited to such a small percentage. Some architecturally designed space also fails to capture spirit of place, which means that this percentage is even lower. There are some architectural styles which pursue architecture on a human level, one that is contextually responsive and emotionally evocative. Phenomenology, organic architecture and critical regionalism are three such movements discussed in later chapters. In particular, they all look to environment and surroundings to create better designs. All of these will be explored further in the research in order to better understand how to manifest genius loci. In particular, they all design with the strategies to create spirit of place that Price and Brook researched. The toolbox that designers work with to create space begins in nature and context. We use light and shadow, texture and materiality, volume, form and shape, water and planting, sound, and colour. We play on all the senses to design an experience. The same toolbox of natural elements is also used to improve air quality, reduce pollution, provide

13 Most people spend their lives in or between buildings, and studies are explored later in the research to prove the impact of the surroundings on people’s well-being.

passive heating and cooling, etc. With practical and spiritual benefits to designing with nature as a palette, it is understandable that these movements link to the environment. Phenomenology in particular uses the response towards surrounding phenomena as a primary design driving force. Organic architecture looks to nature for how to design. Critical regionalism points out that without place, the building cannot exist. “A concrete term for environment is place.” (Norberg-Schulz, 1979, p6) A place is created by its separation from the outside so it may be called ‘inside’, but the two are intrinsically connected. The idea that they should function separately instead of being inter-dependent must shift so that buildings can be characterized by and function alongside their context. “I tend to start by seeking the metaphor first; imagination is momentarily released from the physical and practical constraints, delving into the metaphysical, cultural and personal layers of the client’s needs and the area’s history. Moving from theoretical to the practical, a site study reveals natural rhythms, the geography and topography that will constrain and inspire the direction of the venture. Finally, as the design unfolds, the creative use of emerging materials and technologies allows for robustly dynamic, modern use of space.” (Price, 2006, p124) Price’s design strategy starts with the spirit existing within the site for a rich conceptual base. Thereafter, the context shapes it further, adding constraints. Finally, he looks at technology and its applications for the design. This is his particular method for creating genius loci, and it is a process that will be adapted in the final building design in this research.




This chapter explores humanity’s draw to the natural world. It covers the physical, mental and spiritual benefits of connecting more closely to nature. It justifies the need to research a building formula that is more closely aligned to nature, so much so that the lines between inside and outside are blurred. If architecture and nature work together as one organism, the well-being of the user will be improved.


Biophilia, (according to a theory of the biologist E. O. Wilson) is an innate and genetically determined affinity of human beings with the natural world. The reason why some humans feel a pull towards the natural world is explained as experiencing biophilia. (Rogers, 2010) Biophilia (bio meaning life and philia meaning love or friendliness) means a love of the natural world. Biophilia is a hypothesis put forward by Edward O. Wilson.1 “Throughout human existence, human biology has been embedded in the natural environment. Those who could smell the water, find the plants, follow the animals, and recognize the safe havens must have enjoyed survival advantages.” (Wilson, 1986)

1 Biophilia was originally described as ‘the passionate love of life and of all that is alive’, but Wilson put forward that our tendency to affiliate with nature has to do with genetics.

His research puts forward that all people possess an innate biophilia. He proposes that our love of nature is deeply rooted in our biology. This positive response to nature is supposedly innate in all people. This has yet to be conclusively proven, and for now it is more of a ‘broad construct’ than scientific theory. (Begley, 2015) However, exposure to certain natural elements has been proven to have positive effects.2 Sunlight, water, plants and fresh air are aspects of nature that can be included in design. It is the link to the ‘outside’ that should be focused on. The way we choose to integrate with the natural world will influence how people respond to their environment.

2 These positive effects will be shown later in the chapter in examples of studies done.


54 The building in Figure 54a is Thorncrown Chapel, a beautiful example of Biophilic design, located in Arkansas. The architect, E. Fay Jones, was actually an apprentice to Frank Lloyd Wright, and his design is expressive of Wright’s ideology. As explored later in the research, organic design believes in a biophilic approach. This chapel uses volume, materiality and form to blend the chapel in a forest setting. The movement and texture of the surrounding tree growth is copied, as shown in Figure 55a. The arch resembles the meeting of tree canopies and the resulting light and visual connection to nature makes the building contextually appropriate. Daylight and material are manipulated to create an emotional impact inside the space. Nature also infiltrates the building, blurring the concept of a boundary to separate inside and outside.

People often seek out the natural world as a retreat from city life (forests, oceans, etc). We choose to ‘escape’ from daily life by taking vacations in beautiful natural scenery.3 This seems a natural step given how nature affects us. Biophilic space is good for the body and the mind. It has proven positive effects on our cognitive function and mood. It also has physical benefits such as accelerated healing or improving general well-being. The top holiday destinations in the world are not cities and urban landscapes, they are beaches, forests and wildlife destinations. A mountain retreat, swimming and tanning by the beach or walking amongst dense trees are where we choose to rejuvenate. (Amy, 2017)

3 Most representations of idyllic vacations are set against natural scenery, where people can relax outdoors. Many of the ‘best’ destination websites include some form of this. (Smith, 2016)

Figure 54a

55 In Japan, they have a practice in place called shinrin-yoku or forest bathing.4 “This Japanesebased practice began in 1982 when the agriculture ministry of Japan promoted nature as a form of eco-therapy, or healing that happens by spending time in nature.” (Fraga, 2017) People are encouraged to take leisurely strolls through forested areas. “Forest bathing works similarly: Just be with trees.” (Livni, 2016) Scientifically, it has many benefits. Physically, it affects the immune system by strengthening those cells for an extended period of time. Blood pressure is reduced as well as stress levels. (Livni, 2016) (Shinrin-Yoku, 2017) Qing Li, a professor at Nippon Medical School in Tokyo, did a study on

4 is a member of the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs. The website details how the practice works.

human natural killer (NK) cells in the immune system after nature exposure. The results show responses to tumour growth and infected cells, a positive way to boost immune system and prevent cancer. (Livni, 2016) Emotionally, moods are uplifted. People find it easier to focus and it has even had a positive impact on children with ADHD. (Forest Therapy Association of the Americas, 2014)5 Recovery from illness or surgery can also be accelerated. “Just three to five minutes spent looking at views dominated by trees, flowers or water can begin to reduce anger, anxiety and pain and to induce relaxation, according to various studies of healthy people that measured physiological changes in

5 University of Illinois did a study on concentration in children, positive results were comparable to the effects of Ritalin.

biophilia noun • “love of life” from bio- + -philia • coined by Erich Fromm in T he Hear t of Man: Its Genius for Good and Evil (1964) to mean “love for humanity and nature, and inde pendence and freedom” • extended by Edward O. Wilson in Biophilia (1984) to mean “the rich, natural pleasure that comes from being sur rounded by living org anisms.”

Figure 55a


ecotherapy health benefits of the natural world

“ a s wel l a s b e i ng res torative, g reen space appear s to impr ove health.” (B ond, 2017)

Figure 56a blood pressure, muscle tension, or heart and brain electrical activity.” (Franklin, 2012) Energy levels are boosted while also improving sleeping patterns. (Shinrin-Yoku, 2017) On a more spiritual level, intuition is strengthened as well as the general flow of energy within the body.6 A stronger connection to nature on all levels is inspired by the proximity. Friendships deepen and sociability improves as the need to bond and connect grows. Overall, the happiness increases in each person. “We draw upon mindfulness meditation practices, and the techniques of deep nature connection mentoring.” (Shinrin-yoku, 2017) In a study to inspect psychological effects, 498 healthy subjects

6 Ephrat Livni looks at various studies which show a positive spiritual response, and the Shinrin-yoku website advertises spiritual growth.

Figure 56b were analyzed. “The subjects showed significantly reduced hostility and depression scores, coupled with increased liveliness, after exposure to trees.” (Livni, 2016) This shows a diverse response to being in nature and implies that regular exposure to some nature can be highly beneficial to the individual and the society. The building in Figure 57a has been placed in a forest setting and the reflective glass allows the building to blend completely. It is the Tree Hotel in Northern Sweden embracing the culture of forest bathing by allowing people to live temporarily in the comfort of the trees. It is a refuge among the trees, the exposure to the natural world maximized in a biophilic experience. Figure 56a and 56b show how nature inspired the vertical forms and floating appearance. The reflection of nature acts as a visual extension,

57 much like a reflection in water. These enhance the character of their context, not taking away from the dense forest-like environment. “The aim of forest bathing, Choukas-Bradley explained, is to slow down and become immersed in the natural environment. She helped us tune in to the smells, textures, tastes and sights of the forest. We took in our surroundings by using all our senses.” (Aubrey, 2017)7 Historically, people stayed in outdoor environments. Buildings are relatively new in the time line of human existence, so we are better adapted to living in nature. Nowadays our lives are spent indoors or on electronic devices; and our connection to the outside has become far more limited. Perhaps

7 By forcing oneself to focus on the immediate sensory experience, one can connect to that moment in time and meditate.

this is the reason that a return to nature has such positive effects on us. “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home. Wilderness is a necessity.” (Muir, 2017) “Experiments on forest bathing conducted by the Centre for Environment, Health and Field Sciences in Japan’s Chiba University measured its physiological effects on 280 subjects in their early 20s.” (Livni, 2016) The study placed the subjects in a forest environment for 30 minutes and recorded a variety of physical reactions. In general, the response was positive, since most people reported a relaxing psychological experience. The parasympathetic nerve system controls rest and digestive systems. The sympathetic nerve system controls the ‘fight-orflight’ response. “Forest environments promote

Figure 57a


Figure 58a lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve activity than do city environments” is what the study discovered. (Livni, 2016) This means that stress levels were lowered and people felt rested after the forest bath due to nature’s effects on these systems. Figure 58a and 59b are two destinations that are popular for vacations around the world. The presence of nature in the form of forests, lakes, waterfalls or beach are what make them ideal locations. The natural world is beautiful and puts people at ease, allowing them to relax and forget their troubles when they are immersed in the environment. Unfortunately, as discussed earlier in the research, access to pristine nature is unlikely with humanity’s current reach. This means that there is a need for access to these environments

that does not involve expeditions to reclusive and isolated environments. This is why it is important to have more natural interventions and accessible natural space in cities. “We find that more than 120,000 deaths per year and approximately 5%–8% of annual healthcare costs are associated with and may be attributable to how U.S. companies manage their work forces.” (Goh, Pfeffer and Zenios, 2015) This is the effect of stress in the U.S. alone, and it shows how detrimental being in depressing or stressful environments can be.8 It is a human necessity to be relieved of tension in everyday life so as to improve well-being. A consistent connection

8 According to the American Psychological Association, chronic stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide. (Hartz-Seeley, 2014)


Figure 59a to nature in the built environment can offer this improvement and reduce the existing stress that can come from architecture. “We now know, for example, that buildings and cities can affect our mood and well-being, and that specialised cells in the hippocampal region of our brains are attuned to the geometry and arrangement of the spaces we inhabit.” (Bond, 2017) If this is the case, architecture that makes people respond positively on a psychological level can be specifically designed. Space can improve the well-being of the users. A study from the University of Essex found that the green in nature is able to stabilize moods and lessen the feeling of exertion during exercise. (Barton and Pretty, 2010) Marc G. Berman, a psychologist at the University of Chicago, explores the health benefits of nature proximity. His studies show how nature can improve

motivation, attention spans, efficiency and energy, and even lessen stress and depression. (Berman, 2012) U.S. and Canadian psychologists conducted a study that compared indoor and outdoor emotional responses. Both men and women noted an increase in vitality when exposed either physically or visually to nature. (Berman, Jonides and Kaplan, 2008) Carleton University’s Department of Psychology conducted a study “Barking up the right tree: The psychological and social benefits of a nature experience for children.” (Capaldi, Dopko and Zelenski, 2017) The study compares children’s school environments by transporting the same group of children to two separate field trip locations. One was located in a controlled indoor setting, the Space and Aviation Museum. The other was the Ottawa Forest and Nature School, almost entirely outdoors. Their experiences,


60 affection towards the surrounds and sociability were compared. The natural environment had a larger positive effect on the kids and they even showed a willingness to protect nature when surrounded by it. Their generosity and social connections improved in the natural environment as well. There were factors that prevented this study from being conclusive, but it does have promising results. Our immune systems can function better after spending time in nature. “This is due to various essential oils, generally called phytoncide, found in wood, plants, and some fruit and vegetables, which trees emit to protect themselves from germs and insects.” (Livni, 2016) The air is genuinely fresher and better for us in natural environments. Getting a dose of nature in an urban environment is good for all people. It

reduces stress in adults and can assist children with attention disorders. “Stanford University’s Windhover Contemplative Center blurs the line between art, architecture, and the natural landscape.” (Macies, 2015) This is seen in Figure 60a, a beautiful collision with nature. The materiality is soft and earthy, giving the impression of being outdoors. This is done with a combination of natural materials such as timber panels, stone cladding and gravel filled planter boxes. This is illustrated in Figure 61a. The long slices of skylight frame views of the natural world. They cut into the building in a way that makes nature appear to push inside. The play of horizontal and vertical makes the interior seem like it is amidst tall grasses. This concept of mimicking natural movement and direction contextualizes the building well. This blurred

Figure 60a

61 experience is to maximise the soothing tranquility found in nature. This is another way to create visual and emotional links to nature, since the transparency breaks down the physical barrier to the outside. Figure 61b shows the trees and vertical oasis created for people to relax. There are other physical benefits to being in a natural environment. Some of the factors include exposure to the sun, which gives us vitamin D.9 It is a great natural way to absorb it into the body. Another benefit comes from exercise. Walking, hiking, cycling, and running are regular exercises

9 Vitamin D helps with healthy bones and teeth, the immune system, brain and nervous system. It regulates insulin levels and aids diabetes management, supports lung function and cardiovascular health, and helps cancer prevention.

Figure 61a

to do while in nature. In doing these activities, physical well-being improves. (Barton and Pretty, 2010) A few studies have been done to show that grounding ourselves using the earth can be highly beneficial. (Mercola, 2017)10 There is plenty of fresh air in nature. Plants produce oxygen, so naturally the air is cleaner and healthier for us. Chemicals and pollution can be detrimental to us in the long-term. There are negative ions in the air that can be found in natural places. “They are created in nature by the effects of water, air, sunlight and the Earth’s inherent radiation.” (Negative Ionisers, 2016) These are beneficial in many ways, such as

10 Grounding or Earthing involves putting one’s body in direct contact with the earth (ground, soil, sand, water, etc) and it is meant to return the body to a neutrally charged state.

Figure 61b

“ a s wel l a s b e i ng res tora tive, g reen space appear s to impr ove health.” (B ond, 2017)



Figure 62a reducing illness, particularly respiratory diseases. They increase mental clarity and general wellbeing. Energy levels and sleep patterns are improved by exposure to these ions, as well as general cognitive performance.11 All of these studies point towards a few key design decisions that can maximise the biophilic benefits of being in nature. Figure 62a and 63a are sketches of the primary natural connections. These are visual connections that stimulate the brain and can be achieved with transparent boundaries and ample fenestration. This doesn’t have the same effect as being completely immersed, which has its own benefits. This includes the oils released into the air that are absorbed by people as well as the general fresh air

11 These ions are especially abundant near waterfalls, the beach or after a storm. They occur where there is sunlight and moving air or water.

quality. Proximity to water increase the negative ion count in the air, which also improves health. The inclusion of daylight is visually stimulating and provides vitamins. Even the green colour can influence the user. Many openings in the facade will get the most from daylight and views. By including vegetation in the building, all of these can be maximized. These simple design additions will shift the architecture in favour of biophilic design. In individual designs, it can simple, such as indoor planting, planted walls, planted gazebos or even cheaper solutions in the form of recycled bottle planting. Even the smallest natural incorporation can result in improvements. Some green is better than no green. However, not all projects have the advantage of being in a natural context. In a city, the connection to nature is less frequent than out in the countryside. This makes it more difficult


Figure 63a to include natural elements in city design, but it doesn’t negate the necessity to include it for city residents. These can be pockets of green between the urban landscape in the form of parks, treelined streets, botanical gardens, roof gardens, balconies, etc. These will give an escape from the city atmosphere. Unfortunately, cities have large amounts of pollution, meaning fresh air is not abundant. There is more built space than natural space which does not give the same benefits as vegetated space. This requires a design shift for urban environment. The reasons to include natural space are countless, even small interventions. The positive influence of nature on users can improve productivity and in doing so, even affect the economy. Happier people living in productive cities that are biophilic. “To be happy and healthy and lead meaningful lives we need

contact with nature.” (Schwartz, 2016) With our tendencies to seek out nature, it would make sense to have more connections to the environment. “The observation of nature’s exquisite phenomena resonates and strikes a chord reaching to the forgotten depths of our soul.” (Tsui, 1999, pg. 6) Nature stirs our spirits in a way that little else can. Buildings that embrace the natural world by offering this connection (these can be physical in the form of courtyards and interior planting or only visual, using windows, skylights and aural mechanisms to evoke nature) allow people to experience spirit of place. Nature clearly influences our well-being, and it is clear we should maximise our link to nature with Biophilic Architecture.





This chapter is necessary to explain the green movement across the globe. Sustainable architecture has become law, and many recognized organizations set out the regulations and criteria for greener architecture. By following these ideas, we can hope to reduce the carbon footprint of the construction and architectural industry.


Biophilia, (according to a theory of the biologist E. O. Wilson) is an innate and genetically determined affinity of human beings with the natural world.

“According to new research by construction blog Bimhow, the construction sector contributes to 23% of air pollution, 50% of the climatic change, 40% of drinking water pollution, and 50% of landfill wastes. In separate research by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the construction industry accounts for 40% of worldwide energy usage, with estimations that by 2030 emissions from commercial buildings will grow by 1.8%.” (Initiafy, 2017) The built environment accounts for an absurdly large portion of pollution worldwide. It is for this reason that the pursuit of sustainable architecture is so important. If buildings can contribute positively to the environment, rather than

degrade it, then the industry will be more sustainable in the future. “The future of design seems inextricably entwined with the future of our planet.” (Chan, 2013) The main issues arose from the modern era, when fossil fuels and mass production began being used on a global scale. “Modern architecture is thus an energy-profligate, petrochemical architecture, only possible when fossil fuels are abundant and affordable”, he said. “Like the sprawling cities it spawned, it belongs to that waning era historians are already calling ‘the oil interval’.” (Mehaffy & Salingaros, 2013) Modernism has an inherent ‘unsustainability’ that has become the root of the problems we are facing today. The industrial movement



Figure 66a

propagated the “ecological depletion and destruction of resources” we are facing today. This has made green design an imperative for the future. There is plenty to be gained from the technological advancements made, but there were just as many problems created as solutions. It is in the last few years that design strategies have been developed to protect the environment and reverse some of the damage done. The construction process is one of the most toxic to the environment, so this is one of the most vital processes to adjust to a greener one. As such, there are a number of protocols to put into place to minimise and reduce the pollution damage during construction. The first has to do with the initial process. This involves careful maintenance of the earth to prevent erosion and stabilise the soil. This will then ensure that storm water flow is not disrupted. The second requires pollution

measures. This includes laws on contaminants in water. In particular, chemicals that would be released as a result of construction. These will only help limit the damage during the construction phase. There has to be more done for the actual building so that it is green during its lifespan as well. The third therefore involves green energy laws being put into place. “The process uses environmentally friendly materials during the construction process that can save 250 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually, according to environmental group LEED.” Globally, there are several systems in place. The US has LEED, the UK has BREEAM and Australia has Green Star. “Green Building Council SA has developed the Green Star SA rating system and is the official certification body for Green Star SA projects.” (Green Building Council SA, 2017) It is based on the Australian system with optimizations


sustainable design

“A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to sur vive and move toward higher levels.” ~ Alber t Einstein ~

Figure 67a

for South African context. Green building is now a part of building regulations that ensure sustainable construction and buildings. Point systems invite firms to achieve levels of green design by incorporating specific design criteria. “Agreed standards and benchmarks for green building allow us to objectively assess just how “green” a building is. Rating systems provide a menu of green measures that can be used in the design, construction and management of a building to make it more sustainable.” (Green Building Council SA, 2017) The end result of such systems are to achieve net zero or net positive ratings with carbon, water, waste and ecology. The categories for the South African system are: 1. Management 2. Indoor Environment Quality (IEQ) 3. Energy

Figure 67b

4. Transport 5. Water 6. Materials 7. Land Use & Ecology 8. Emissions 9. Innovation 10. Additional available category: SocioEconomic (SEC) The building must follow green standards during site selection, construction and design. It must then be certified in order for the rating to apply. Some examples of design additions that fit into the ten criteria are shown in Figure 69a. Each one that is achieved in the building will accrue a different number of points, some more than others. The more that are included, the higher the final rating. These are straight-forward methods and designers are not limited by them. Creativity can often result in better sustainable solutions.


68 “A building that achieves a score of 39 points earns a “gold” rating; 52 points earns a “platinum” rating. A gold-rated building is estimated to have reduced its environmental impact by 50% compared with an equivalent conventional building, and a platinum-rated building by over 70%.” (The Economist, 2004) “Going green saves money by reducing long-term energy costs: a survey of 99 green buildings in America found that on average, they use 30% less energy than comparable conventional buildings.” Evidently, a building with a gold star rating will be paying for itself in terms of running costs after just two years. This more than makes up for the marginal increase in construction costs. The building in Figure 68a is a typical image of what one would expect to see when ‘green

architecture’ is mentioned. However, this can be an expensive endeavour and there are other ways to achieve the same sustainability. For example, insulation usually used in commercial buildings can be replaced with old fabrics and jeans in a low cost building. This can be just as effective and easier to install by unskilled labour. “One problem with many sustainability approaches is that they don’t question the underlying building type.” (Mehaffy & Salingaros, 2013) This refers to the “bolton” sustainable approach, where the building type and frame aren’t changed, but rather the sustainable aspects are added onto the facade or interior. Examples are screens to windows or insulation to walls. “What’s gained in one area is lost elsewhere as the result of other unanticipated interactions.” (Mehaffy & Salingaros, 2013) Unfortunately this can be

Figure 68a


Neighbourhood Growth

Land Protection

High Priority Site Transport

Protect and Restore Nature

Bicycle Allowance

Smaller Parking Footprint

Site Assessment

Diverse Surroundings

Collect Rainwater

Better Air Quality

Water Metering

Renewable Energy


Closed Loop Cycles

Local Materials

Tobacco Smoke Control

Natural Lighting

Smaller Parking Footprint

Figure 69a


Figure 70a a result of this method, and can make the green impact nullified. “Systems may appear to be well engineered within their original defined parameters — but they will inevitably interact with many other systems, often in an unpredictable and non-linear way.� This means that sustainable practices cannot be added in isolation. The entire context has to be taken into account, natural and built surroundings. A green building requires a lot more planning than any other project, and this makes them more complicated to design. Luckily, technology has advanced to a stage where there are programs capable of testing the green systems in place. In the past, buildings were forced to be passive and sustainable due to energy expenses and difficulty in transporting materials. This meant that orientation and fenestration exploited natural light, and

the design allowed for natural heating and cooling. Design began by looking to nature, and this is the system architects are returning to. Figure 70a and 71a show how different systems have primary focal points for sustainability. These are addressed through design so that the most important aspects are taken care of. These are the foundation of sustainable architecture, and ensuring that the building responds to these will allow it to begin functioning as an organism. Humans need energy and comfort, but we produce more waste than we should. These can become more cyclical systems if we design as nature does. These are the principles currently put into place globally to have sustainable architecture. They are methods and design additions that can be included in any building. The key to this research is to move beyond the basic green laws. The laws require design initiatives that reduce the carbon footprint. They also


Figure 71a protect the environment in general. The next stage of green architecture is to design as nature does. Nature produces zero waste and is sustainable long term. Ideally, this is the ultimate goal of our buildings as well. This is less about systems that improve the indoor quality and usage, and more about a building that learns from natural systems. The movements that look to nature become passive as a result of natural elements. Biomimicry is the movement that asks first, how would nature solve this? In this way, a closed loop design system can be attained. No man-made system has been perfect, but since nature already has the genius to solve our problems, we don’t have to innovate brand new solutions. The perfect solution needs simply to be borrowed from nature and included in design. Nature solves gathering sunlight with leaf design that maximizes the surface area and

converts as much sunlight as possible into energy. This is translated into design with new solar panels that mimic leaf structure. Nature handles ventilation, cooling, water collection, insulation, air purification and water filtering in its own way, all of which can be studied and translated into adjusted design solutions. This research attempts to take the building further than expected green standards by creating a biomimetic and responsive building.





This chapter takes the knowledge from biophilia and sets out design strategies in architecture. The patterns of biophilic design are explored in terms of theory and case studies, and the natural links are reformed into a new toolbox for design.


Biophilia meets architecture in certain existing movements. These can be studied and applied to new architectural approaches. Buildings that capture this connection to the natural world successfully is what this research aims to create. “The garden is somehow a personal nature, a personal kind of control of nature. And the room was the beginning of architecture.”(Khan, 1973) Biophilic design is one of the movements that attempts to reconnect people through nature. Green architecture may tackle sustainability issues, but it does not address the re-connection aspect to nature. Sustainability means nothing if it is simply a function of the building. It needs to become a mind-set and an attitude of the people who use the space. Our buildings can become a part of the landscape, having ‘active and reactive relationships’ that make them behave as organisms in an ecosystem. Biophilic architecture is able to give us this vital natural connection. It is characterized by the landscape (natural

environment), the context (the place), and the presence of sacred geometry that enhances the connection between the built environment and nature. People are often separated from the world, viewing it through windows, windscreens, TVs and cell phones. A dark room with artificial lighting and a short hour break with access to a small concrete courtyard and a bench is barely humane. Imagine sunlight streaming into the space, the sound of distant water trickling in the lobby, a breeze from an open window looking



nature : architecture frank lloyd wright “ H e thoug ht that rays o f s u nlight s too d f or j oy, the es s enti al tr u th to be s et a g a i n st the pa in o f th e world, an d th at a n awarenes s of the s k y ou g ht to be as much a p ar t of daily indoo r life as an awarenes s of the ear th.” (Ho ffmann , 1 9 8 6 , p5 0 )

“Biophilic design is more than just bringing the outside in, it’s about making and strengthening a connection with many aspects of nature. It’s about natural light, views on nature, plants, natural materials, textures and patter ns.” ~Oliver Heath~

onto a beautifully landscaped green roof. It seems obvious which one is better for humanity, but still it is not compulsory to design this way. We spend most of our lives in the built environment: in our buildings, the spaces between and the journeys within them. They become ‘frames’ and these frames have the capability to alter our life. “How we think, feel, behave – how we are.” (Day, 2002, p5) Buildings affect the natural environment, but they also affect the ‘human condition’. “For what we do to our environment, ultimately we do to ourselves.” (Day, 2002, p5) This is why it is so important to provide well-designed space to people. Providing people with emotionally fulfilling and spiritually fulfilling space is something that all people should have access to. If the natural environment has a psychologically profound influence, then it makes sense to

recreate the same spirit and environment within our architecture. The connection to nature in Johannesburg is available, however, not in equal distribution. It tends to be higher class suburbs that have tree-lined roads and access to natural space like parks. There are also the botanical gardens, but these green spaces are controlled (admission for botanical gardens) and certain activities are prohibited. People in Alexandra for example do not share the same accessibility to nature as those in more advantageous areas. A natural experience should be made public and available to any member of the public, especially in a city with ample natural beauty. Another access to nature is in the form of a vacation, but this too is reserved for those who can afford it. The issue here is making


Figure 75a

natural space accessible to all people, and not just in certain places. It shouldn’t be a rarity between buildings or at holiday retreats. With the important benefits, it should be accessible on a daily basis. This is why including outdoor environments becomes so important in the architectural world. Access to a natural environment where people can connect better with their spirit should not be a privilege. There should be more space that allows this connection, and it should be freely accessible. This should become a design requirement in architecture. Figure 75a is the Maggie’s Centre in Scotland. It is part of the many centres built for cancer patients. This one is designed by Reiach and Hall and it blends well with the surroundings. The concept involved many courtyards spaced throughout the building with large window expanses to enhance the blurred connection to nature. The distinction

between inside and outside is broken down in this way. It is designed around the existing trees and becomes an extension of the landscape. (Design Curial, 2015) Figure 76a shows the earthy materials chosen that give the project a soft presence. The gentle horizontal lines are reminiscent of an elongated landscape, and also make the intervention of the building less heavy on the site. Figure 76b and 76c illustrate the connection to nature that is unbroken by transparent boundaries. The dappled light texture created by the holes in the wall is similar to light spilling through dense leaves. These characteristics borrowed by nature make the building well-suited to the location and fully take advantage of the healing benefits of nature immersal. There are 14 patterns to Biophilic design. (Terrapin Bright Green, 2014) The first is a visual connection with nature, which involves viewing



Figure 76a

Figure 76b

Figure 76c

Figure 76d

77 nature or natural elements. Design decisions involving access to real nature or uninterrupted lines of vision to natural scenery are ways of strengthening this connection. The second is a non-visual connection with nature. This can be through sound, touch or smell (anything reminiscent of nature) and these stimuli can trigger memories of being in nature. This can be done through interventions or connections that play on one or more of the senses. Non-rhythmic sensory stimuli is the third pattern that involves an interruption of routine. Nature is included in a surprising, unpredictable and energized manner. Seasonal strategies or stimuli interwoven into the design is a way to achieve this. The building in Figure 76d is the Selgas Cano office in Madrid. The long window view gives wide nature views, while the wall and roof protect

from harsh sunlight. The people working are immersed in a forest-like environment, giving the impression of being completely surrounded by nature. Figure 77a and 77b show how the ground level placement gives the illusion of being within the natural environment. The leaf-covered ground is at eye-level, giving people a different perspective of their natural surroundings. Figure 78a shows how the soft organic curves allow light in from the top and side. The planting surrounding the building makes the curved form reminiscent of drooping branches and leaves. It is a bright and open work environment, conducive to high levels of productivity. The building stretches across the landscape’s open space, mimicking the flat linear land movement. Figure 78c shows Bosco Verticale in Milan, Italy. The building looks like a vertical garden, where

Figure 77a

Figure 77b

She is g etting at a point that architects, neuroscientists and psychologists all seem to ag ree on: that successful design is not so much about how our buildings can shape us, as Churchill had it, but about making people feel they have some control over their environment. Or as Jeffer y put it at Conscious Cities, that we’re “creatures of the place we’re in”. (Bond, 2017)



Figure 78a

Figure 78b

Figure 78c


Figure 79a

Figure 79b

every balcony and room has access to a planted area. Having this permanent natural connection and access gives people the opportunity to be in nature. Figure 78b illustrates the cladding’s purpose, which is to give the impression of vertical movement and growth. By having this as well as pushed out planted balcony portions, the building itself has the visual and structural appearance of a tree. This makes the vertical forest metaphor stronger. Figure 79a and 79b shows how the cladding pattern, windows, and planting cascade over the buildings surface in a haphazard manner perhaps in the way water or plants would stream down a steep landscape. These natural inclusions aren’t directly natural, but they do evoke natural textures, making them just as effective. These are both biophilic buildings that utilise the patterns of biophilic architecture to be successful. (Design Curial, 2015)

The fourth pattern is thermal and airflow variability, which has to do with air quality or humidity being similar to a natural environment. Ventilation, airflow, fenestration, daylight and other passive methods can be used to create this effect. The presence of water is the fifth pattern. Soft (non-turbulent) water, trickling sounds or tranquil ponds enhance the natural experience. It provides constant stimulus for concentration and has a calming effect too. Dynamic and diffuse light is the sixth, achieved with manipulation of natural light through windows, perforations, reflective materials and other textures. It sets the mood and improves focus. Number seven is a connection with natural systems such as expanding contextual response (passive systems, orientation, etc) or using nature to the buildings advantage (collecting rainwater, solar power, etc). It makes the building more integrated as a complex whole in the natural environment.



Figure 80a

(Terrapin Bright Green, 2014) Biomorphic forms and patterns is number eight. This is using natural diversity in buildings by playing with texture, form, pattern, and other arrangements for a more stimulating environment. Material connection with nature is ninth, allowing a building to blend better with a natural landscape. Materials that appear more natural and raw enhance the connection to the outdoors. The tenth is complexity and order, which is a way of mimicking natural geometries and hierarchies to achieve an aesthetic harmony. There is a balance between repeated harmony and fractal complexities. (Terrapin Bright Green, 2014) The eleventh pattern is prospect. This is allowing sufficient depth and space so that people do not feel cramped. This can be done with distant

views outdoors, higher ceilings, large windows in small spaces, or even visual connections to gathering areas of action and sociability. This allows people to feel connected to the people and places around them. Twelfth is refuge, which is allowing a change of pace within the building where people can pause and relax. The space for privacy, relaxing, meditating, or reading in a safe, covered environment helps people feel restored. Thirteen is mystery. Doing the unexpected with light and shadow, or curves instead of edges, or size of space can make the overall experience more exciting for the user. The last pattern is risk or peril, which is used with discretion. To make a space more exciting, the illusion of a risk or thrill is sometimes included to make the users play. These can be large cantilevers, heights, or even stepping over water. (Terrapin Bright Green, 2014)


Figure 81a

These patterns are skillfully manipulated in buildings to create a natural integration as well as a pleasant experience for the users. It is playing with natural elements as well as certain design decisions that allow these patterns to manifest. Some are easy to create with simple additions (planting indoors, balconies, etc), while others need to be a part of the overall design (passive strategies, etc). The next three chapters explore the controlled design mechanisms for including natural experiences in the building, as well as the untamed aspects of nature. Many of the tools we use to connect to nature are quite commonplace in buildings, but it is this research’s aim to make the connection even greater and more blurred. The building in Figure 81a, for example, is a Gallery of Symbiosis. As a way to combat urbanization and bring a green pocket back into the city, the building tries to heal the landscape

with trellises of plants. The facade is meant to blend completely with the surroundings. All of the spaces within have a connection to the volumous planted space, making the rooms feel larger and more open. It is meant to be a simple solution that could ideally be applied to any building in an urban setting to add more greenery. (Cong Sinh Architects, 2016) The tree in the double volume courtyard, as seen in Figure 80a, is surrounding by textured slats that not only mimic the light texture of the tree, but also give the opportunity for the planting to intrude through the gaps. This seemingly wild natural space has visual connections to the interior that maximise the feeling of being in a forest-like space. It is not an over-the-top intervention, but the visual link and light quality creates an immersed environment that blocks out the urban and allows people to relax and focus on nature.


82 “The industrial and consumer-driven mania of our society is spreading like a cancer throughout other societies of the world. Indigenous wisdom is being supplanted by the commodity mentality – the belief that everything is a commodity to be exploited with profit gained.” (Tsui, 1999, p7) Due to advancements in technology and the increasing urbanization of the modern world, some people are becoming more disconnected from nature. A re-connection can be reestablished, especially in architecture, since it is a link that can be designed. We should avoid alienating ourselves from the natural world with a “use it and forget it outlook”, and we should increase our mindfulness. (Tsui, 1999, p8) This can be done with obvious reminders of the natural world, which come from a cohabitation with nature. We have brief moments in life where we have a “sense of reverence and joy” when we notice the beauty around us. (Tsui, 1999, p6) In such moments, we are able to connect and appreciate our existence. Nature goes far beyond aesthetic though, embodying a deep intelligence. Each living entity has its own purpose, and is designed specifically to fulfil this in a creative simple manner. Humanity has been inspired by nature in every revelation or design we create and all human endeavours are derived initially from natural phenomena. We rely on nature in all aspects of life, and this dependency cannot be ignored. Many people become complacent in ignorance, choosing to forget where the sewage goes and where the exhaust from cars disappears to. An awareness of the natural world and all it does for us is a necessity for a healthy balance between nature and people. If we bring nature back into daily life, forcing this connection, a responsibility

may ensue for how we treat the natural world. “You didn’t come into this world. You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean. You are not a stranger here.” (Alan Watts, 2016) People are connected to nature on a biological and spiritual level, and encouraging this in our architecture is the best way for us to reconnect. The building in Figure 83a is the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital in Singapore. Massive integrated courtyards blur inside and outside by having the plants and water intrude within the building. Fins along the building channel the air inside and shades over windows prevent glare for the sake of patients. In this way, the scientific passive design elements make for more comfortable interiors while simultaneously altering the air and light quality. There are courtyards that are visually stimulating, but they also passively cool the building. The building creates a biophilic experience for the users that makes it pleasant for those who work there, and a healing environment for those afflicted with illness. Figure 83b and 83c shows how the planting intrudes into the built space, blurring the line of boundary where nature should end, and rather letting nature decide. Nature is utilized as a building material, creating path edges. In Figure 85b and 84a, the Eden Project is shown, located in Cornwall, designed by Grimshaw Architects. This design uses geodesic domes1 due to the strength of their form and capability of their spans. The way the forms connect and shape is based on a study of soap bubbles. This is how we can look to natural phenomenon to make better structures. If the soap bubbles naturally

1 The geodesic system was made famous by the American architect Buckminster Fuller.


Figure 83a

Figure 83c

Figure 83b



Figure 84a

“T he site is on a reclaimed K aolinite mine. Since the site was still being quar ried during the design process, they had to design a str ucture that could be built reg ardless of the what the final g round levels were g oing to be. T he result is a series of bubble-like domes of var ying sizes str ung along the landscape. By looking to nature, they discovered that the most effective way to create a spherical surface is by using g eodesics (hexag ons and pentag ons). T hese bubbles are a series of giant hexag ons welded tog ether and then inf lated.” (Heather, 2012)

form in certain ways to ensure their strength, we can mimic this in a building. Beneath these structures are large and beautiful greenhouses. These bubble-like shapes rise and fall in the landscape like an added topography, flowing organically in the landscape. The curves make their impact on the site softer and more natural. “The moment we saw it we loved it, because it felt natural – a biological response to our needs, but forged in materials that would allow us to explore the cultivation of plants in a way never before attempted.” (Smit, 1996) The dome construction works well on an unstable surface, its strength able to withstand shifting soil. In this way, the building works as Biophilic architecture, well suited to its context and becoming one with the given landscape. This can be seen in Figure 85a. The biome space for planting is beneath the structure, housing healthy green space.

Biophilic architecture has been explored and pursued in different ways. Organic architecture, phenomenology and critical regionalism are just three movements that include nature in different ways. Japanese architecture is also a style that has always strived for a stronger outdoor connection with screens as easily permeable barriers and tranquil gardens as an extension of the building. Biophilia is showcased in these architecture styles since they innately seek out this connection to nature and life. It is modern research that has shown us the medical benefits as well, proving that the need to form this connection is wellplaced. Even in ordinary design, we attempt to include the natural world in various ways. These are repeated in many different kinds of buildings, regardless of typology, context or style. They are a kind of toolbox for designing in nature.


Figure 85a

Figure 85b




The toolbox in this chapter illustrates the way buildings currently connect to natural space. Planted space can be added in various different ways in order to create different places and atmospheres. These are all methods that can be pushed to the limit by blurring their thresholds of inside and outside. This is the start of a methodology for adding nature to buildings.


Patterns of Biophilic Architecture



THE GARDEN For hundreds of years, we have enclosed planted space to create gardens. They have multiple purposes, growing food being the oldest use, and aesthetic properties being fairly common nowadays. It is often seen as a luxury to have a garden since they require a lot of maintenance and upkeep. Their connection to architecture is usually limited to households, and they are separated from indoors with clear barriers and distinction. “In every walk with nature one receives far more than one seeks.� (Muir, 1877) Gardens give us this opportunity to walk with nature and experience it any day.

Figure 88a LANDSCAPING Landscaping is gardening at a larger scale, often on an urban level. Parks, public space and grounds of buildings are landscaped to create beautiful outside space for people. Landscape architecture is the design of the outside environment using textures, materials and natural elements to make harmonious environments. People visit these areas or move through them during their daily journey. They become pockets of green within the city and they bring back a natural connection that is often missing in urban environments.

Figure 88b


Figure 89a THE STOEP/PORCH This architectural tradition is very common, particularly in South Africa (the stoep). It is an extension of the building into the outside world, covered or uncovered. People use it as a way to sit and connect to the outdoors in a partially enclosed environment. This keeps the comfort of the home while maintaining a link to nature. The porch offers a visual link in the form of views. There is the tactile experience of sitting and appreciating the sensory input of the nearby environment. “The most striking cultural significance of the front porch is its connection to nature and the land surrounding it.” (Cook, 2017)

activities of a long day. In the evenings, as the outdoor air provided a cool alternative to the stuffy indoor temperatures, the entire family would move to the front porch. The children might play in the front yard or the friendly confines of the neighborhood, while the parents rocked in their chairs, dismissing the arduous labors and tasks of the day into relaxation and comfort.” (Cook, 2017) In this way, the porch has become a significant addition to daily living. It is a family gathering place, a return to nature and an area of refuge. It is spaces like these that make people feel connected to the spirit of the place, and it is more spaces like this, at varying levels of ambiguity, that we need to design.

“The porch, in essence, was an outdoor living room, where the family could retire after the



Figure 90a

Figure 90b



The balcony becomes the porch of the apartment. It allows for the luxury of height, and while disconnected from the ground access to nature, it gives a broader view of the context. This allows people to have a beautiful visual connection to improve their mood and well-being.

Planting inside the building is a way of bringing nature into a controlled environment. Ordinarily, wild plants are found outside, by containing them and bringing them inside, people feel closer to nature. It brings life and vibrancy to the space, making it feel more alive.

Figure 90c

Figure 90d



This differs only slightly from the porch, in that the function is different. The patio is for braais, pools, fire pits, outdoor kitchens and other living areas. It is more built up and seen as a luxury in most homes. It brings normal living functions outside for a close natural connection while doing familiar living tasks.

The sun room is enclosed mostly with glass as a way of heating up the room. The sun filters in and it becomes a lovely warm seating area, much like a greenhouse. This warm sensory experience brings people closer to nature and makes them feel comfortable and happy.



The atrium is most common in larger commercial buildings. It becomes a large space with plenty of light, usually large in volume, and people are encouraged to gather here. It is aestheticised with planting, made to seem like a natural haven in the midst of concrete architecture. This helps with the well-being of the occupants by giving them access to sunlight, fresh air and visual stimuli. In this way, it can motivate and inspire people to live and work better.

Figure 91a GREENHOUSE Glass enclosures for encouraging better plant growth bring nature into controlled environments. They can become experiences for people to enjoy thriving nature in an enclosed setting. Greenhouses can be adjusted in terms of climate and can therefore house an array of plant species. They also become places that other living organisms can stay within. It is a transparent connection to maintain the link to natural elements while still keeping the plants in a specific condition.

Figure 91b


Figure 92a INDOOR TREE “Biophilia is the humankind’s innate biological connection with nature. It helps explain why crackling fires and crashing waves captivate us; why a garden view can enhance our creativity; why shadows and heights instill fascination and fear; and why animal companionship and strolling through a park have restorative, healing effects.” (Terrapin Bright Green, 2014) Bringing a tree through the home is another way of bringing nature into architecture. It is a way of honouring the existing landscape by not disturbing it. Rather, it makes room for the nature to become one with the new environment.

Having proximity to nature in the comfort of indoor space makes the building feel like it is a growing part of the place. “Above all, biophilic design must nurture a love of place.” (Terrapin Bright Green, 2014) In this way, connecting directly to nature in an unexpected guerilla design, biophilia is experienced by the user.


Figure 93a INDOOR POND Another aspect of nature is the body of water. Still or moving, it captivates us and brings us closer to nature on another level. People use pools or ponds of water to feel its soothing and tranquil effects. Bringing it indoors has multiple positive effects on well-being, as well as assisting in passive design (cooling strategies.) Water is seen as a source of life, and it is the reason why plants and animals thrive. The sound of water can also be a relaxing experience, allowing aural architectural spaces to enhance the quality of place.

Water is a wild element, and when it is placed in a controlled indoor space, people feel more connected to the exterior environment. It is a way that the natural world takes over indoor space. In this way, it becomes difficult to tell what is inside and what is outside. The ambiguity is the most exciting aspect of connecting to nature. If the built world and nature can blend and integrate so that they function as one, harmoniously, then the benefits of nature will be synonymous with the architectural environment. The distinction and separation between the two is where the disconnection begins. The boundaries should be adjusted accordingly.



PLANTED CEILING Plants hanging down like vines in a jungle makes people forget they are in the built environment. It becomes like a tree-canopy and gives a natural experience in a built setting. The light quality also adjusts to a dappled soft light that can affect mood. “Patterns in combination tend to increase the likelihood of health benefits of a space.� (Terrapin Bright Green, 2014) By combining floor, wall and ceiling and offering a natural experience across all boundaries, it offers a well-rounded sensory experience that alters the character of the inside space to make it feel more like outside space.

Figure 94a PLANTED WALL Designing plants into wall designs amongst other materials is a way of adding a new layer of texture. Nature is soft and soothing, adding a new colour as well as a new character to the material palette. It brings nature into the space in a controlled and designed way, giving people specific glimpses into the natural world. These kinds of walls and textures are common in the natural landscape, so it is another way that we borrow design strategies from the environment. Nature is the best teacher and many of the most beautiful and inspiring spaces already exist in the world. Architecture is merely an extension of the natural world. Combining man-made materials with nature is a way of blurring boundaries.

Figure 94b


Figure 95a

Figure 95b



Planting on the roof allows for a beautiful and appealing gathering space, while simultaneously assisting in storm water issues and insulation. It is a secondary addition to the roof rather than planting directly onto it.

A planted green roof has the structural capacity to allow a layer of soil and waterproofing. This makes it feel like the landscape and the building has a seamless, combined relationship. It creates continuity in the context.

Figure 95c

Figure 95d



The green wall is similar to a green roof, but it brings plants into the interior space. It is a new texture to add to the design, allowing the buildings walls to come alive with soft, beautiful, green nature. It brings people closer to nature from a different perspective. The walls blur into nature, the boundary no longer clear.

These maintain the external separation, but instead of having nature confined to a garden space, it is boxed within the space. These create frames of nature experience in the middle of normal indoor space and give a visual connection to beautiful external space.





This chapter explores the untamed aspects of nature. If nature is left to grow unattended and without maintenance, it takes over space. There are no limits to nature’s spread and nothing can stop its growth. This aspect of nature is something explored in the thesis by blurring lines to the natural world.


Nature is wild and unpredictable, and over time, humanity’s best efforts to control or tame it are in vain.

Architecture, landscaping and gardening are all ways we control the natural environment. We trim bushes or trees and make sure our lawns remain manicured. There are boundaries in place to restrict plant growth to certain areas (planter boxes, enclosures, trellises, etc) and regular maintenance ensures control. This is a labour-intensive and costly venture, and yet many places have thriving and beautiful landscapes. There is beauty in ordered nature. However, just as we find beauty in order, there is a wild beauty to untamed nature. Nature that is either untouched or that has been neglected (left to become overgrown) can have a stunning quality. Time will eventually be against the order we attempt to impose on the environment, so it is the

inevitable state of any designed area. If we design to allow the designed natural spaces to grow and change, it will be closer to its raw natural state. The Chernobyl incident, referring to a catastrophic nuclear accident, occurred on 26 April 1986. One of the reactors had an explosion and subsequent fires which pumped nuclear fumes into the surrounding atmosphere. As a result, the area is now radioactive and uninhabitable. Since the site has been evacuated, nature was able to reclaim the landscape.1 Nature has taken control for a few

1 As shown in Figure 98a (an old classroom) with tree growth creeping through the windows and 99a (an amusement park) which shows plants growing through pavement and over structures.



Figure 98a decades now, and the effects are clear. Buildings are covered in plants, weeds creep through cracks in paving, trees grow into shattered windows and moss grows on most surfaces. Nature has a tendency to invade all that surrounds it, flourishing and spreading without human interaction.2 Chernobyl gives us a glimpse of what the world might look like if we suddenly vanished. The new image is one ruled by nature, the built environment vanishing beneath a layer of plants. The result of this research is to explore this aesthetic and make the boundary between inside and outside indistinguishable at times. This can be done by altering the usual marked edges. Walls and windows might be removed or made more

2 Figure 101a shows another shot of an amusement park in Chernobyl. The plant growth has taken over the area, slowly covering every surface.

permeable. Roof overhangs might increase and floors might recede inwards. All of this will make the exact line of separation unknown. Materiality and structure is usually man-made, so blurring this boundary by making materials more organic and able to grow is another way to blur this threshold. Nature being allowed to grow over structure or trees being utilized as columns is one way to achieve this. Figure 100a shows the subtle beauty that occurs when nature takes over. Windows no longer keep the elements out and plants fight their way through. The ground is no longer solid, becoming like soil again with cracks and plant growth. Nature can sustain itself without the presence of humanity, and the way nature chooses to spread is something we should analyze and repeat. The beauty in nature comes from its untamed character, so to allow nature to follow its natural


Figure 99a


Figure 100a

101 course in future designs is to truly integrate into the environment. In order to disrupt the existing ecosystem as little as possible, natural elements should be encouraged to thrive as they usually do. Finding a balance between nature’s path and the building’s order is where truly biophilic designs can emerge. Plants become a new facade on the buildings, allowing them to better blend into the landscape. The green growth is textured, colourful and random in its patterns over the building. This kind of aesthetic can be designed as well. Plants wrap around and become completely entangled in buildings. The light that comes through the window is now dappled, the plants pressed against the glass adding patterns. Using nature itself as a design tool is possible in order to strengthen the connection to nature even further.

The natural invasion is a far more dramatic approach to connecting to nature than the controlled elements in the toolbox (in the previous chapter). It has a different quality to it, one that makes the space more ambiguous. It asks the question, “Am I inside, or outside?” People are suddenly forced to question their surroundings. With nature sharing the living space of the user, it brings in the question of “Where does the building even start?” This blurred threshold makes the space truly one with nature, a perfect cohabitation and union.

Figure 101a




There are techniques that can be included in design for renewable energy, recycled materials, passive heating and cooling as well as better indoor air control. These are all part of green architecture methodologies and can be used in any building, so long as they are contextually appropriate. These examples in particular reference ideas that will be suited to the later design in the research.


Natural design (Biophilic Architecture) tools can make a building more sustainably efficient. These are passive strategies that use nature as the primary tool.



Figure 104a

RENEWABLE ENERGY There are a variety of passive design methods that utilise nature in order to help the building’s functionality. Using nature to the advantage of the design is another benefit to linking closely with the environment. One of the biggest connections is utilizing renewable sources of energy. This reduces energy costs throughout the building. There are numerous ways to collect energy. Solar, wind and water are all readily accessible means of generating power. The building in Figure 104a is the COR Tower in Miami. It has a few strategies in place for collecting energy, in particular, wind turbines at the top of the building. This maximizes wind while keeping them out of the way. “Rising 400 feet above the Design District, Cor extracts power from its environment utilizing the latest advancements in wind turbines,

photovoltaic’s, and solar hot water generation – while integrating them into its architectural identity.” (Lomholt, 2017) In this research, the context is Johannesburg, so taking advantage of solar power is the best decision (we live in a climate with ample sunlight). The research also searches for solutions that are linked to nature. Copying nature by using a solar system that maximises coverage, like an ivy leaf system, is the best way to function as nature would. The sketches in Figure 105a and the photographs in Figure 105b and 105c show how the solar ivy is attached to a facade and absorbs solar energy from there. It is also a system that can be integrated with actual planting, and therefore improve its aesthetic.


Figure 105a

Figure 105b

Figure 105c


Figure 106a

LOCAL OR RECYCLED MATERIALS Using local materials is an efficient way to design since transportation is no longer required, and one saves on general material cost. It is also a way for the building to better blend into context since it shares the texture and colour of the surroundings. Recycled materials are also a less costly building strategy, and it helps reduce waste from the site. Getting local labour involved is also another way to help the community, since skills can be developed. The building in Figure 106a is the Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre by Peter Rich. It uses local stone and brick, blending beautifully into the environment. “The traditional timbrel vaulting, using locally made pressed soil cement tiles, allows the design to be materialized with minimal formwork and no steel reinforcement. In addition,

the ambition was to also integrate local unskilled labor into a poverty relief program by training them to produce the over 200,000 tiles necessary in the construction of the domes.� (Rich, 2010) For the research, the site selected is a steep ridge site, meaning that during construction there will be excavated soil that can be reused. The options for this are shown in Figure 107a. There will also likely be stone that can be recycled for cladding or aggregate. The many trees on site also mean that if any are removed, recycled timber can be used for interior cladding.


Figure 107a

Figure 107b


DAYLIGHTING In order to naturally light space without artificial lights, architects can maximise sunlight in buildings. This is done with large spans of windows or glass, on the exterior of a building, or within, overlooking courtyards. Atrium spaces and skylights are also ways of bringing in more light. However, there is not only one kind of light. Sunlight can be manipulated to bring different qualities and textures to space. Glass bricks, perforations in walls, stained glass, etc are all ways to alter the light. The building in Figure 108a is the Optical Glass House in Japan. It uses glass bricks to bring dappled light into a massive courtyard. All the rooms face this and are lit up. “Sunlight from the east, refracting through the glass, creates

beautiful light patterns. Rain striking the waterbasin skylight manifests water patterns on the entrance floor. Filtered light through the garden trees flickers on the living room floor, and a super lightweight curtain of sputter-coated metal dances in the wind.� (Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP, 2012) In Johannesburg, the sun angles must be controlled in summer, and allowed in for winter. This requires a play of eaves, screens or materials that regulate this. Figure 109a shows the different alternatives, including a design solution that uses material overhang as a control mechanism. Planting and courtyards can also be used to control the amount of sunlight in space, since trees naturally become more bare in winter, and courtyards allow for difuse light.

Figure 108a


Figure 109a


PASSIVE COOLING There are many ways to include nature in design to keep buildings cool in hotter seasons. The use of plants, water, shading and insulation can all be manipulated. Pools of water indoors or outside cool the air above the surface. This cool air then blows into the building and keeps it cool. The use of planted walls, ceilings or roofs, atriums, or trees are also useful in keeping a building cool. Plants can either shade (using trees to protect from sunlight) or insulate against heat (planted roofs or walls act as a thick layer of insulation to prevent heat from entering) or provide cool air (transpiration). Shading devices such as extended eaves, blinds or louvers can naturally control heat intake by taking sun angles into account. (Kamal, 2012)

The building in Figure 110a is Naman Spa in Vietnam. “The ground floor contains open spaces with relaxing platforms surrounded by serene lotus ponds and hanging gardens.� (MIA Design Studio, 2015) The use of plants and ponds within inner courtyards keeps the space cool and refreshed. Using water bodies and planting on, against or in the building can be successful passive design additions in Johannesburg examples. Figure 111a shows how they can be used, especially on a naturally diverse site with many plants and the opportunity for constructed water bodies like wetlands.

Figure 110a


Figure 111a


Figure 112a

PASSIVE HEATING Heating a building using natural heat from the sun is the best strategy to keep space warm. This can be done with windows and openings that maximise sun angles in the cooler months (Direct Solar Gain). Another way to heat up space is to have a buffer to collect the heat and release it over time into the building. This can be done with Trombe walls or attached sun space. Glass passages or rooms act as greenhouses, collecting heat and distributing it after. Materials with high thermal mass are able to retain heat better than others. Darker colours and materials are also more heat absorbent. The building in Figure 112a is called the Langen Foundation by Tadao Ando. The glass encases the inner portion of the building, trapping the heat and providing a slow heat release through the

inner wall. The glass space acts like a greenhouse, sunlight heating it up without releasing any out. It is “an unusually long and narrow gallery conceptualized by Tadao Ando as a space of ‘tranquillity’.” (Robinson, 2013) In Johannesburg, the summers are hot and the winters are cold. Buildings need to be designed to be thermally comfortable just as much as they are ventilated. This is often done with thermal mass or glass spaces that retain heat and disperse it inside over time. Insulation and other thick walls can have a similar effect, for example heavily planted walls. Skylights also allow direct sunlight within a space and it behaves much like a greenhouse. This is all seen in Figure 113a


Figure 113a


Figure 114a

PASSIVE VENTILATION The design of fenestration systems or openings controls the air flow within buildings. Done well, this eliminates the need for air conditioning. Simple window openings are the most basic type. Cross-ventilation allows air to blow across a space, cooling it. Vents can also be used to allow air in. In particular, vents that allow air to circulate from the bottom to the top help remove hot air and keep a space cool (using clerestory windows or high vents). Wind capture facades help direct air into the building, utilizing the benefits of orientation and natural winds. The chimney effect pushes air through the building and out the top, another effective method. The building in Figure 114a is the Breezy Brillhart Residence in Miami. The front facade is shaded by screens that are able to be completely opened

if desired. The building relies on cross-ventilation to keep cool, with large window expanses on either side of the house. This helps air flow in the tropical heated region. (Brillhart, 2015) There can be lovely winds in Johannesburg, and on the given site, taking advantage of passive ventilation techniques is definitely possible. Cross ventilation along contours would ensure air flow. Clerestory windows that capture sunlight can also be used as vents to remove air. This creates air movement in the building and works like a chimney effect. It takes hot air from below and allows it to rise and circulate to best cool the space. This is seen in Figure 115a.


Figure 115a


PLANTING Urban agriculture is becoming more popular in architecture. It is the practice of planting herbs or vegetables inside the building that can be used by the users or the community. This can be useful in the production of organic food since it is high in nutrients, low in chemicals, and helps preserve the ecosystem and reduce pollution that comes from intensive farming. It can be done as stacked planters indoors, planted roofs or integrated planting within the landscaping. The plants can also be incorporated into the facade design or as featured walls. Figure 116a is called Stacking green by VTN Architects set in Vietnam. “We named this tropical, unique and green house “Stacking Green” because its façades filled with vigorous

and vital greenery.” (Vo Trong Nghia, Daisuke Sanuki, Shunri Nishizawa, 2012) The planter boxes are spaced apart according to growth and watering needs. They make the place vibrant and green, improving air quality, while also supplying food to the household. Planting in Johannesburg can have many benefits, especially since organic food growth and urban agriculture are growing movements. In the case of this research, the aim is a botanical centre, so planting in the form of the nursery being intact, herbs within the design for lab study, as well as agricultural planting for sales at a market, are all ways to include plants im the design. This is seen in Figure 117a.

Figure 116a


Figure 117a


POLLUTION Plants naturally absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. In this way, including plants into a design makes the air cleaner and fresher for people. This has been taken to the extreme in some examples where they use types of algae to absorb large amounts of pollution. This can be useful in cleaning certain badly affected areas. Planting is also effective against noise pollution. Busy streets or areas can be softened by barriers of trees and planting. The facade system in Figure 118a is designed as an algae farm suspended over a small stretch of highway in Switzerland. “Because algae consumes carbon dioxide and emits pure oxygen, this sort of urban farm is highly effectively for cleaning the air in the most polluted of places.” (Mitchell,

2014) The algae is grown in the tubes and takes in fumes from the cars below. The clean air can then be pumped where desired. This can assist in air quality, reduce respiratory diseases and improve general well-being. The pollution on this research’s chosen site would be air pollution from the road and water pollution from the water that comes down the ridge over the slope. Both of these can be treated and purified on site. Figure 119a shows how planting in front of windows and openings can make air fresher and better for breathing. It also shows various filtration systems that can be naturally incorporated in the design to clean water to a more usable state.

Figure 118a


Figure 119a




Organic architecture looks to nature for its inspiration. Its forms and resulting buildings are not necessarily organic in terms of soft curving forms, but rather they look to the landscape and context and flow appropriately for their particular site. This is what creates genius loci. This research uses case studies to compile a design approach that looks to nature.


Organic Architecture is a term Frank Lloyd Wright used to describe his environmentally integrated approach to architectural design. Nature is the foundation of existence, and everything therefore comes from nature. Materials all start as natural in their most raw form. From the beginning, nature has been our context, and we build within it. This creates a continuous subtle connection to the natural world. Organic design should “be inspired by nature and be sustainable, healthy, conserving, and diverse.” (Pearson, 2001) It should behave like an organism, in that it should exist in the present while having the ability to grow and adapt. An organism belongs within its ecosystem, contributing to the environment by having a symbiotic relationship with nature. This is the goal of organic architecture. It “should satisfy social, physical, and spiritual

needs.” (Pearson, 2001) In this aspect, organic architecture pursues a functionalist architecture that caters to all possible needs. It should also be uniquely suited to its context, belonging within the site. There should be aspects of playfulness, and delights to all of the senses. It should be expressive and inspire emotion. These are criteria put forward by Pearson. Organic architecture is an amalgam of styles currently put forward to create genius loci.1 It embraces critical regionalism’s intent on contextualizing. It agrees that phenomenology

1 It uses the patterns of biophilia, and it shares principles of the other two movements being studied in this research. It also has similar characteristics to biomimetic design.




Figure 123a


org anic architecture movement co in ed by frank l l oyd wri g ht

or g a nic usua l ly refers to s omething wi th pl ant or ani m al characteri s ti cs. “Instead, org anic architecture is a reinter pretation of nature’s principles as they had been filtered through the intellig ent minds of men and women who could then build for ms which are more natural than nature itself.” (Kimberly Elman, 1998)

Figure 124a

Figure 124b

must be considered by manipulating the surrounding phenomena. Aural architecture is pursued to captivate all the senses. Organic architecture learns from nature and is inspired by its beauty.

up with an approach to designing that makes creating a ‘spirit of place’, the most important pursuit. In learning from nature, we can find the forms, materials and elements that are the most successful. (Shandilya, 2014)

Frank Lloyd Wright coined the term ‘organic architecture’ and it is his preferred style. His buildings embrace the surroundings, growing out of the landscape. He blurs the line between what is built and what is natural, creating a wellaccepted genius loci in his designs. (Artibise, 2010) He uses a specific design approach along with certain tools and he manipulates built elements to enable him to do so.2 We can work backwards, analyzing examples of his work to find the links to nature. In this way, we can come

Wright designed many residences that are beautiful connections to nature and true to their organic style. One such house is the Taliesin West in Figure 123a and 124a. “Dramatic terraces and walkways display the desert and the constantly changing landscape in the form of shifting sandbars. Taliesin West demonstrates Wright’s faculty in joining interior spaces with exterior ones.” (Vega, 2017) The building, while not necessarily organic in form, is expressive of the organic landscape. His inspiration is drawn from the horizontal patterns found in nature in the landscape (the desert in this case). Landscape movement is something that can be drawn

2 He put forward his principles of organic architecture in his book, The Testament, in an essay entitled “The New Architecture: Principles.”


Figure 125a

from the site and be translated into built form. It is a direct link to context, since it stops the building from contrasting too harshly with the surroundings.

The windows act as a constant visual connection and link to nature. In this way, transparency is another tool that can be used, for it blurs the end and start point of building and nature.

The stone material chosen provides the connection to the rocky mountain, rooting the building in place. Material is therefore another element that can be copied from nature. The building appears to grow from the existing landscape if the same material or evocative materials with similar textures and colours are used. This is seen in Figure 128a, since the colour resembles that of the surrounding soil, and the texture is the same as the round structure. There are elements that extend or jut out, breaching the boundary of building and landscape. This push and pull of the building into the outside is how the spaces connect to the natural world. This movement is also reminiscent of the landscape.

The Guggenheim museum in Figure 125a and 127a is another Wright building. He manipulates an organic twisting form by providing continuous ramps that get light and views from the centre. The rounded forms are soft and organic in this sense, but the design calls for it, requiring a building that is suggestive of movement (a gallery). By being placed on a street corner, the rounded exterior also gives a sense of continuity and beauty, rather than a hard edge. “Light floods the space from a large skylight perched atop it; the circular design, meanwhile, was inspired more by nature than typical building shapes.� (Plitt, 2017) Light is a material that can be taken from nature and manipulated by how it is allowed to



Figure 126a

127 enter space. In this case, a massive volume takes in the light and distributes it, giving the central space a bright and awe-inspiring feel, while the rest of the building gets soft and diffuse light, easily rebounding off rounded edges. This is shown in Figure 127b.

appropriate for its placement. The building feels one with the rest of the landscape. “The idea that a building might aspire to a level of organization as high as that of an organic being took hold in Wright’s mind with great force.” (Hoffmann, 1986, p37)

Wright’s most iconic design is Falling Water, a building that cascades down the landscape just as water may naturally fall down the slope, shown in Figure 126a. This cascading motion is another way of extracting the movement of the topography and site features and translating it into a design that becomes symbolic of the site. The materiality is soft and blending, giving the impression that the building could have grown out of the landscape. The sketch in Figure 127c shows how the rocky site and the cladded walls have the same feeling and texture, making it

It is indeed apparent that Wright designs his buildings as an organism to fit into an existing ecosystem by taking the place of the landscape and growing and spreading across it in a new way. Figure 127d and 128a shows this interaction with the site and shows how the jutting linear forms can be justified as organic. They hover and extend over the rocks and site, stepping down naturally until the building is continued by the motion of the landscape rather than more built form. This along with a few strong horizontals which represent the trees and strong rock formations.

Figure 127a

Figure 127b

Figure 127c

Figure 127d


128 “Louis Sullivan3 said an architect was a poet who used materials, not words.” (Hoffmann, 1986, p26) If we have a greater sensitivity towards materials and what they express, our buildings can move closer to speaking the same way nature does with its materials. All of the phenomena in nature contribute towards a character of place. Buildings gain their character through material, texture and aesthetic. Each individual material expresses itself differently and allows for variations in design and structure. Acknowledging the truth of materiality will allow a softer approach to design that maximizes the capabilities of each material.

3 Sullivan is a famous modern architect, and Wright became his protégé. The organic architecture philosophy grew from the ideas Louis Sullivan, who believed that “form follows function.” Wright argued that “form and function are one.” (Stott, 2017)

Materials have a poetic response in nature. Wright associated stone with the earth and the language of the ground. Wood is more romantic, better left in its raw or stained state, much like the aging quality of a tree. Brick became the horizontal lines of beauty found in the horizon. Steel is used for its strength, along with concrete (reinforced concrete’s strength made his designs possible), both being smooth and lacking in much texture. They allow for cantilevers4 or sculpted monolithic surfaces, both assisting in the structural aspects of nature. “Wright regarded glass as the materialisation of light, the weightless medium of sight.” (Hoffmann, 1986, p29) It acts as a solid material, but it allows perfect

4 Wright favoured these in most of his designs because of the impossible aesthetic achieved by them.

Figure 128a

Figure 128b

Figure 128c

Figure 128d

129 transparency. It is the direct connection that buildings maintain to the outside world, capturing the landscape in frames and lenses. It maintains the boundary while still giving that connection. In particular, Wright believed in combining interior and exterior so that the two were interconnected and indistinguishable. This is a quality that this research aims to explore and recreate. He does this connection by playing with materiality, since this blends the boundary of where the building even begins. By continuing the form of the landscape, whether this is horizontals or verticals, the building settles into the environment, belonging to the setting just as much as any other natural element. It looks more like a continuation of the landscape, rather than an interruption. These are all important aspects to take into design in order to make the natural

connection seem unforced and organic. Wright’s design philosophy can be summarized with his principles of organic architecture. Houses should not be boxes set together row on row. If a house is to be architecture, it must become a natural part of the landscape. “The land is the simplest form of architecture,” wrote Frank Lloyd Wright. (Craven, 2017) First and foremost always came the site and the building’s relationship to this context. “The site should be enhanced by the building, and the building derives its form partially from the nature of the site.” (Collette, 2014) He did this either through similarity (mimicking the existing landscape, like he often did when repeating the horizontal of the prairie) or through contrast. The main conceptual goal was for every building to grow naturally out of the site.

Figure 129a

130 “He focused on things like natural light and ventilation, open spaces, natural materials, and finding his color palette through walking through the natural environment.” (Collette, 2014) Materiality, particularly maintaining the raw integrity of the original material, was important in all of Wright’s designs. Depending on colour, texture or strength, he maximized their natural abilities. He expressed joinery clearly, showing how materials come together to create the building. He also used a simple palette of materials, choosing fewer more expressive ones (the same way that nature operates with few materials). His buildings always retained their original function as a shelter. They were always comfortable, protected and private, a refuge from harsh elements. “The reality of the building does not consist of the roof and the walls but the space within to be lived in.” (Wright, 1939) Inspired by the flow of space in Japanese architecture5, Wright wanted his interior spaces to be open as well with subtle boundaries instead of thick walls. He believed that the shape of the interior would inform the shape of the exterior. He used horizontal or vertical elements to create layers of experience in a room, so that each space became an introduction to the next. Rather than many rooms, he kept an openness in his designs. His goal with proportion was always to relate his architecture to human scale, since it is people who use and experience space. The building is designed for people to use, so should always prioritize human comfort and be optimal for

5 This refers to the use of thin light screens that can easily be opened to make spaces larger and more open.

functionality. He also believed that furniture was not a stuck-on addition, but rather an integral part of the design. It should ideally be built-in as much as possible, indistinguishable from the rest of the building because it undeniably belongs in its place. “The creative possibilities of form, color, pattern, texture, proportion, rhythm, and growth are all demonstrated in nature.” (Collette, 2014) While organic architecture does not aim to fully copy nature, it does use the same design approach and materiality. Carefully arranged, uncluttered space to inspire tranquility and ease is what Wright attempted to achieve. The simple forms and design are a part of this approach. He believed in the simplicity that nature embodied, capturing beauty in a single simple element. Each building also has a distinct vocabulary that repeats itself harmoniously throughout the design. “All parts of the building from the smallest detail to the overall form thus speak the same language.” (Collette, 2014) The language would be chosen to suit the particular context, and every language spoke similarly to nature. Ornament is also used carefully, applied as nature might use it in certain patterns, mosaics or carvings. All are metaphors for textures or patterns found in the natural environment. “Leaving the boundary between human life and nature ambiguous is a Japanese virtue.” (ARTechnic architects, 2009) The building in Figure 129a is a holiday villa called Shell in Karuizawa, Japan, built in 2008. ARTechnic designed it with the organic form of a shell, twisting and curving at the edges. This soft and flowing organic form is well suited to a landscape where the building has to wrap around natural elements. “Being in sync with nature isn’t about


Figure 131a

Figure 131b yielding to nature - it’s about coexistence.” (ARTechnic architects, 2009) The tree growing in the centre of the project makes the building blend more harmoniously with nature, as if the building wraps around it. The thick concrete curved walls and shape are designed to either retain heat or cool the building passively. This is all seen in Figure 128c and 128d. The building becomes an extension of the meandering paths through the trees, and its form aids its passive function. It is perfect for a humid area, and suits the context well by becoming an appropriate shelter in the landscape. This is another aspect that can be gleaned from nature, and it has to do with forms that contribute best to required functions. Japanese architecture embodies the principles of organic architecture. Rooted in the Shinto religion, these beliefs put a lot of emphasis on

nature. (Lombardi, 2013) The beliefs say that in every living thing dwells a spirit, so the close relationship with nature is part of the Japanese aesthetic. Buddhism and Zen are also closely linked to nature, practised often in Japan. Stone gardens are tranquil links to nature, the raked sand often reminiscent of soft ocean waves. “Buildings are not seen as individual objects, but as part of the existing environment, resulting in the development of design principles which enhance these qualities.” (Beita and Fujii, 2013) Wright drew inspiration from this architectural style often, especially the garden links and screens. These screens are known as ‘shoji’, and they allow a space a greater deal of flexibility and adaptability in changing conditions. The space can be altered depending on climate needs (letting in fresh air or sunlight) or for functionality (opening


132 up a room to make a larger space). “At last I had found one country on earth where simplicity, as nature, is supreme.” (Wright, 1915) He found beauty in the simple design and inter-connected relationship that is commonplace in Japanese architecture. Organic architecture is a legacy that Wright began, and other designers have utilized the same principles. It is even a style that can be found within South Africa. The building in Figure 133a by Steyn Studio is known as the Bosjes Chapel. It is located in the Western Cape. “A walkway over the reflecting pond lets you see right through the chapel and to the mountains beyond.” (Contemporist, 2017) The use of simple curved forms, reminiscent of an elegant landscape or flowing water, is a classic quality of organic architecture. It uses this organic form partially for the connection to landscape, and partially for the symbolic effect. Light enters from all sides at large rounded portals where the window mullions cross symbolically. Views are also maintained in this way, since there is an uninterrupted line of vision. This gives a sense of continuation in the landscape, and makes the built form appear lighter. The simple materiality also makes the building seem lighter and floating despite its thick structural properties. The reflective water also gives a continuation to the building, giving it extended flow. Figure 131b expresses these design achievements through form and shape. The thin materiality also reduces the impact of the joinery and blurs the line of where the building ends and the outside begins. The building is also placed in a way that frames the horizon, maximizing the genius loci of the site.

Organic principles are about fitting into the landscape and suiting the context appropriately. The form is also meant to suit the function of the building, meeting the users needs in the way it is crafted. In this case, as a chapel, the light and open quality obtained is perfect for its purpose. The views make the chapel a bright haven and the space and views are uninterrupted from all sides. The water reflects the forms, enhancing the tranquil water metaphor already evoked in the form as well. It is a building that operates harmoniously in context and the sculptural form suits its purpose. “Architecture was the opportunity to make man’s reflection in his environment a godlike thing.” (Hoffmann, 1986, p84) Organic architecture is about learning from nature and taking the context as the primary design informant. This is how it is similar to Biophilic architecture, and how most examples of organic architecture create genius loci. In studying the principles of organic architecture and their similarities to the other movements looked at in this research, a design strategy for integrating completely with nature can be gleaned. This strategy will be applied at the end of the research to design a building that will be the epitome of the combined movements (an ultimate connection between nature and architecture).


Figure 133a




Phenomenology is closely related to genius loci, since both prioritize the experience and character of place. This is achieved through certain contextual connections that require translating knowledge from nature. These case studies also continue the toolbox of design elements that can be used later.


The phenomenology of architecture is the philosophical study of architecture as it appears in experience. Architectural phenomenology, with its emphasis on architecture as a human experience that is historically contingent, stood in sharp contrast to the anti-historicism of postwar modernism. Many architects use design through human experience as a way of creating a ‘spirit of place’. We are exposed to ‘phenomena’ every day; tangible and intangible. Tangible phenomena include the physical world and all of the objects we interact with, as well as natural phenomena like the seasons. Something intangible would be emotion, something that affects us differently depending on where we are. Different phenomena come together to make a place. “We mean a totality made up of concrete things having material substance, shape, texture and colour. Together these things determine an ‘environmental character’, which is the essence of

place.” (Norberg-Schulz, 1979, p6)1 Place is also defined by function, and we combine different elements together to create different places. Sometimes, even the same function, such as eating, requires different elements to create a certain feel of place (whether this is a residence or a restaurant, the character is different). Architecture is place that is created (man-made and separate from the natural world) and it resides

1 In his book, Genius Loci: Towards a Phenomenology of Architecture, he explores how phenomenology as a design approach creates genius loci.



“In our time, architecture is threatened by two opposite processes: instrumentalisation and aestheticisation. On the one hand, our secular, materialist and quasi-rational culture is turning buildings into mere instrumental structures. Devoid of mental meaning, for the purposes of utility and economy. On the other hand, in order to draw attention and facilitate instant seduction, architecture is increasingly turning into the fabrication of seductively aestheticised images without roots in our existential experience and devoid of authentic desire of life. Instead of being a lived and embodied existential metaphor, today’s architecture tends to project purely retinal images, architectural pictures as it were, for the seduction of the eye.�


Figure 137a


phenomenolog y noun “In philosophical terms, phenomenology is the interpretative study of human beings through their experiences in and of the world on an everyday life basis.” (Martin, 2012)

Figure 138a on the earth. “The basic property of man-made places is therefore concentration and enclosure.” (Norberg-Schulz, 1979, p10) Once an ‘inside’ is created, we have place, and the last distinguishing factor of place is ‘character’. It is character that gives place distinct genius loci, or spirit of place. We control the design of a place, and depending on the experience we want to create, we create a specific character of space. Aural architecture is another design approach that seeks to create genius loci. “Experience of architecture is multi-sensory; qualities of matter, space and scale are measured equally by the eye, ear, nose, skin, tongue, skeleton and muscle. Architecture strengthens… one’s sense of being in the world, essentially giving rise to a strengthened experience of self.” (Pallasmaa 1996, 28). Architecture is predominantly designed to please our sense of sight, and as a

Figure 138b result, visual aesthetics often take priority. The power of capturing the other senses is underused, surprisingly so, since these create a more thorough experience of place. “Aural architecture is that aspect of real and virtual spaces that produces an emotional, behavioral, and visceral response in inhabitants.” (Blesser, 2006)2 “If the acoustics allow you to participate in a dialog with others, then you feel connected. In fact, hearing is the dominant sensory means of emotional connection because it is the means of broadcasting emotions and attitude, not just the linguistic information in the words.” (Blesser, 2006) Atmosphere can be created with sound. Emotion is what drives us to feel spirit within a

2 Barry Blesser is the author of ‘Spaces Speak, Are you Listening?’ His research looks at bringing awareness to listening in space in order to better experience it.

139 place. In nature, we seek the sound of wind, birds and water as a way of connecting with the space. In architecture, sound can be manipulated to change the emotional impact of the space. “A study of man-made place therefore ought to have a natural basis: it should take the relationship to the natural environment as a point of departure.” (Norberg-Schulz, 1979, p50) Phenomenology designs according to experience, senses and phenomena, but it begins with the natural landscape. It becomes the starting point and directs the rest of the design according to the best response to the land. We look to nature for design elements, such as caves for volume and form, or trees as a ‘sacred grove’ or ‘forest of columns’ that borrows the character from nature. (Norberg-Schulz, 1979, p52) This can be used as a starting point for design when certain characteristics of the site can be repeated or recreated in a final design. “The distinctive quality of any man-made place is enclosure, and its character and spatial properties are determined by how it is enclosed.” (NorbergSchulz, 1979, p58) Enclosure requires architects to build boundaries. However, these thresholds can be subtle, for example as lines of changing texture or screens, and each one gives a different experience of that boundary. “The character of a man-made place is to a high extent determined by its degree of ‘openness’.” (Norberg-Schulz, 1979, p63) Isolating the building within an enclosure is to deny the space as a unified total. An integrated comprehensive approach allows the building to root itself in the context and character of the environment. “Technology is essential in architecture, but

the poetic and artistic qualities have always an existential origin and motif. Architecture arises from a heightened sense of life.” (Pallasmaa, 2015) Pallasmaa is another architect who believes in architecture that favours the human experience. He has an interest in Japanese architecture, which is nature-oriented design. It relies on subtle experiences and a light treatment of thresholds in order to better connect the building with the context. This sensory design creates the emotional experience of the building through the eyes and mind of the user. Sensory architecture is inspired by the many natural elements available to designers. These are light (and shadow), volume, form (and shape), texture (materiality), colour, sound, water, and planting. These are found in nature and can be manipulated in architecture in order to create a more fluid relationship between the building and the context. If these elements are studied and copied in their specific location, it improves the experience since it is more rooted in place. Spirit is allowed to flow through the entirety of the space, from the context and into the architecture. Character and sense of place can alter drastically depending on how these elements are arranged. A dense forest with diffuse light and textured plants around has a different experience from dark cave structures with fewer circles of light allowed within. An example of architecture that uses phenomenology in its approach is the Therme Vals by Peter Zumthor3, shown in Figure 143a. This example prioritizes the sensory experience as the most important aspect of the design.

3 Peter Zumthor is known for his architecture that pursues phenomenology.



Figure 140a

Figure 140b

Figure 140c

141 “Mountain, stone, water – building in the stone, building with the stone, into the mountain, building out of the mountain, being inside the mountain – how can the implications and the sensuality of the association of these words be interpreted, architecturally?” (Zumthor, 1996) These experiences come from nature and they are recreated in architecture with design, shown in Figure 138a. The horizontal rock lines that are found in the site are repeated in the baths to give the impression of being in an actual cave carved into the site. Zumthor copies the experience of caves, volume and water that one would experience in this mountainous setting. This building uses stone from a local quarry, making the design blend so that it could already exist in the landscape. (Zumthor, 2009) He explores an important aspect of

phenomenology, one that encourages a unity with the architecture and the setting. Figure 140a shows how the building settles within the contours, following their lines. The building then rises from the ground and extends out. By intertwining the materiality and spatial quality of the site with the building, an ambiguity of space is created between inside and outside. He plays on light and shadow on the interior, reinforcing the cave-like quality. The experience and narrative of the building is controlled, the perspectives viewed either allowed or denied on purpose. This is done through controlled light access. By altering the shape of perforations on the skin of a building, the character of light can be changed. Another example of phenomenology in architecture is Zumthor’s Bruder Klaus Field Chapel in Figure 108a. He has a careful sensitivity

Figure 141a



Figure 143a


Figure 144a

Figure 144b

Figure 144c

Figure 144c

145 when it comes to materials and tactile experience. In particular, this design of his focuses on a singular experience that the user takes that connects them to heaven. It uses the texture of wood and a single source of light to direct attention and gives the impression of being immersed in nature. In this way, actual trees are substituted with texture, volume and movement, characteristics taken from nature as shown in Figure 140c. This means that a connection to nature can be direct or implied and still create a genius loci. The external materials differ from the interior, and they blend with the colour and movement of the surrounding grassland. This makes the journey somewhat unexpected, since the character of the building can be created as separate from the spirit of the location. This works here because

of the function of the building. The sense of place as you enter is altered in order to contrast the journey to somewhere different and sacred. Figure 114a shows the chapel standing as a beacon, tall and conspicuous. “The very somber and reflective feelings that become inevitable in one’s encounter with the chapel make it one of the most striking pieces of religious architecture to date.” (Sveiven, 2011) Nature is associated with heavenly experiences, making it important to express this connection in religious buildings. In this case, the spotlight high above is symbolic of heaven’s light. This is seen in Figure 144b. “The meander, as we call it, is a designed negative space between the blocks, a space that connects everything as it flows throughout the entire building, creating a peacefully pulsating rhythm. Moving around this space means

Figure 145a

Figure 145b

“To me, buildings can have a beautiful silence that I associate with attributes such as composure, self-evidence, durability, presence, and integ rity, and with war mth and sensuousness as well; a building that is being itself, being a building, not re presenting anything, just being.” Peter Zumthor


146 making discoveries. You are walking as if in the woods. Everyone there is looking for a path of their own.” (Zumthor, 1996) The experience of walking in a building can be the same kind of experience we get in nature. There is no one solution to reacting to the environment, but the presence of environmental qualities can have a positive influence on a user’s psyche. One of the most commonly manipulated elements is light. The natural world can alter atmosphere simply by altering how much light enters a space. For example, the dappled light experience under a canopy of trees is totally different from the beating sun on a clear day. Architects can subtly use windows, skylights and other perforations to control how light enters a space. This in turn creates a specific atmosphere or character. The building in Figure 144c is his Kolumba Museum in Germany. “Zumthor’s design delicately rises from the ruins of a lateGothic church, respecting the site’s history and preserving its essence.” (Cliento, 2010) He is always mindful of materials, since colour and texture alters the tactile experience. Materials also root a design in place, in this case the use of grey brick and fragments of the old church blend the design in context, as seen in Figure 144b. The fragments add perforations to the wall that allow a soft dappled light into the museum. This makes the space change as the light shifts, making the space reliant on the surrounding environment. Steven Holl Architects4 is known for its preference for a phenomenological approach to design. Their mission statement says: “The

4 Many examples by Steven Holl exemplify phenomenology by being oriented towards user experience.

phenomena of the space of a room, the sunlight entering through a window, and the color and reflection of materials on a wall and floor all have integral relationships,” adding that “The materials of architecture communicate through resonance and dissonance, just as instruments in musical composition, producing thought and senseprovoking qualities in the experience of a place.” Figure 147b is Holl’s Daeyang Gallery and House in Seoul. There are three pavilions, residence, gallery and entry. Each one is designed with light as a design tool, moving through different mediums for texture and emotive qualities. There are many skylight strips above, making the space hidden without the entrance of light. The reflective pool allows the light that comes through some of the skylights to have a moving, textured quality. The pond is seen at eye level on entry, giving an experience of the water in all ways. This quality is shown in Figure 145a and 145b. There is the visual quality of the water and the feeling of being immersed, the reflective quality as it mirrors the pavilions, and the light as it moves through the moving water. The reflective quality of water adds a new layer of character, especially since any movement of the water can alter the texture. The exterior material is copper which ages with the landscape. A tranquil and reflective experience is enhanced by forms that seem to sink into the ground, since glass and water have similar attributes. In this way, even a material like glass is used for its naturally evocative properties. The water acts as a passive cooling element, giving a dual function to its inclusion. The daylighting and air flow are shown in Figure 147a. Each building lightly sits on the surface of the water, and the bulkier portion of the built form is hidden beneath. This affects how it appears to sit on site.


Figure 147a

Figure 147b

148 T he g oal of architecture should be a body moving through a place. T his nar rative matters most in the design. T here are many ways to star t designing a building, such as typolog y or mor pholog y. However, phenomenolg y tries to g et back to the essence of design by rooting people in space, life and time. Drawing attention to existence and being in a space wholehear tedly is what phenomenolg y attempts to do for people.

Figure 148a Daniel Libeskind5 is another architect that designs with a phenomenological approach. He has fragmented, surprising or accidental space, defined by human movement. It is the interaction of the user and their experience which brings the concept to life. His building in Figure 149a is the Jewish Museum in Berlin, a project famous for being designed for experience. “Libeskind wanted to express feelings of absence, emptiness, and invisibility – expressions of disappearance of the Jewish Culture.� (Kroll, 2010) Connecting lines between important locations is how the form came about. These extrusions make complex spaces, some dead ends or empty space to exude the emotions of loss. The play of form and movement as seen in Figure 148a creates

5 He is known for his expressive designs that evoke emotion in the user. He also worked on the 9/11 memorial, once again evoking a sense of loss and memory.

Figure 148b a disrupted journey. Similarly to nature, where the destination is often seen ahead, but the path must meander. Light in this example is used as a symbol of hope, and the large expanses of concrete represent solid emptiness since they are cold and overwhelming at times. The character can be seen in Figure 148b and 149b. No matter what, a building is designed as a part of a place. The materials chosen influence the energy and spirit of the place. It will have its own presence in the landscape, a distinct character. Recollection and memories will be triggered depending on how the experience is rooted in history and context. The density and concentration of elements evokes different meaning and emotion. The pursuit is one of permanence, a building that will withstand time and be appropriate for its place continually. People will always use the building, for that is


Figure 149a

its purpose. They will experience, discover, love, dislike, bequeath, alter or even abandon the space, but no matter the outcome, they will be lived in by people. In this way, designing primarily for the sake of people is the most important. It is the intention of an architect that creates a spirit of place. Intentionally connecting our buildings to the natural world is how we can strengthen the connection to that place. If we design as nature does, creating our buildings as living organisms that become integral to the context, then our buildings will have an impact. Above all, the spaces these architects design revolve around the user. Place that draws attention to experience forces people to revel in a moment and take in the beauty that surrounds them. Nature has the ability to do this, compelling us to slow down and stir our senses and passions.

This is the quality that can be replicated in architecture, using similar mechanisms in design to make meaningful places. Finding these triggers in nature and recreating them in buildings is a quality found in biophilic architecture and organic architecture as well. They all look to nature to draw inspiration for creating genius loci. Phenomenology is a theory of approach to design, and its principles alter from building to building. Ideally, experience should be the primary focus of design.

Figure 149b




Critical Regionalism rejected the idea of an international style of architecture, since a building cannot belong in its place if the location is interchangeable. This requires a careful design approach, one that adheres to the site conditions and maximizes the benefits of every contextual situation. Design tools that look to nature to do so can be analyzed and used later in this research.


“We add cultural, artistic and reverential (loving) value to both landscape and built surroundings, in ways unthinking kingdoms of nature can’t. This is enspiriting.” ~Christopher Day~ Critical regionalism is an architectural style that emerged in the early 20th century. It seeks to oppose the ‘placelessness’ and universal aesthetic of the International Style (lack of identity). “The first problem which critical regionalism approach puts finger on is the homogenization of International Style which it has totally diminished the sense, meaning, and identity of the place.” (Zahiri, Dezhdar and Foroutan, 2016) However, it also disagrees with the post-modern approach which becomes overly flamboyant with its use of ornamentation. This is one of the first styles of architecture that questioned a spirit of place, which many of the buildings going up lacked. Ever since the modern movement made functionality and minimalism a priority, buildings

became ‘machines’ or products that could be mass-produced. One of the key aspects of ‘spirit of place’ is indeed the place. This is why the emphasis on contextualizing was sought out in this movement. Every region is different, and so the design that comes from the space should be rooted in its place. This is the physical landscape as well as the cultural, social and historical landscape. Buildings shouldn’t simply perch on the landscape, but rather root themselves into the ground, as if they have grown from it. Another way of creating place is by making the building a destination after a journey. The building then becomes anticipated, as if it belonged there all



critical regionalism movement

W hile the moder nists strived to create a place-less “universal” architecture with the Inter national Style, critical regionalists insisted that the building must ref lect the culture and tradition of its region through its design and materials. T he post moder nists celebrated or namentation for its own sake, critical regionalists insisted that stylistic f lourishes must only be applied in a measured and meaningful way.

Figure 152a along. “Deepening this connection with the flow of form through time, we can work with currents of authenticity, creating places that emanate a timeless ‘rightness’.” (Day, 2002, p34) Places are unique in climate, topography, material and vegetation. Each of these contributes to a distinctive character. Buildings attempt to claim space and assert dominance, taking over the area. This opposed to the idea of integrating with the existing place so as to become a part of it. “Local materials minimize transport energy, suit local climate, support local employment and society and reinforce local identity, anchoring buildings into local culture.” (Day, 2002, p78) This is the importance of critical regionalism. It places importance on the region, the environment. The natural world that the building is placed in should not become alien to the architecture. They should be in sync, integrated with one another in such

Figure 152b a way that they both belong in place. Nature is rooted to the earth beneath it, and it is something we have lost with time. In the past, materials were chosen locally or from the land the building was built on. Today, buildings are identical despite completely different locations. Designing in symbiosis with nature also means that the mechanical cost and function of the building is reduced and improved. It is better to take advantage of natural phenomena than to fight against it. “Making places that people belong in, places that belong where they are, and buildings that belong in those places.” (Day, 2002, p34) A lot of design focuses on one subjective design pursuit. To maintain balance and see the picture as a whole, design needs to take every aspect into account. We separate the spiritual and the physical, as well as man from nature. In this separation, we cannot hope to have truly holistic


Figure 153a design. We are connected to our surroundings, we depend on them and they sustain us. The building in Figure 153a is the Church of Light by Tadao Ando. “The Church of the Light embraces Ando’s philosophical framework between nature and architecture through the way in which light can define and create new spatial perceptions equally, if not more so, as that of his concrete structures.” (Kroll, 2011) In his buildings, he often explores the link between nature and the built form. He handles the dual nature of existence in this building (light/dark, solid/void, stark/serene). In its simplicity, the light brings the user closer to God by bringing an awareness to the space and their existence. The thin cuts of light emphasize the symbolic form by being the only brightness against shadow. Figure 152a, 152b and 154a show this. The materiality is simple and smooth panelling, allowing light to

wash over the space uninterrupted. The concrete and timber have a raw and natural feel, and there is planting all around the site, giving the impression that the design is a rocky extrusion within nature. All the buildings in this style address the key principles of the movement. There are six points to this architecture of resistance.1 The first is Culture and Civilization, which deals with the issue of a rapidly growing civilization. The context which buildings fit into can change within a few years, making it difficult to be responsive to a changing environment. The advancements in technology have also made forms more limited since materials are mass-produced (the universal

1 The architecture of resistance is an essay by Kenneth Frampton, an architect known to design with critical regionalism as the chosen style.


154 style is repetitive). Our lives are oriented towards a chain of “means and ends”, so culturally significant architecture is pushed aside for the pursuit of profit. (Frampton, 1987) The second point is The Rise and Fall of the Avant-Garde. This is a summary of how history led to the development of modernism (the industrial revolution). The third is Critical Regionalism and World Culture. “The fundamental strategy of Critical Regionalism is to mediate the impact of universal civilization with elements derived indirectly from the peculiarities of a particular place.” (Frampton, 1987) This can be done by drawing inspiration from subtle aspects of site that give it distinctive character, like light or specific aspects of topography. The fourth point is The Resistance of the Place-Form, which applies to buildings which

become free-standing objects instead of rooting in context. A building gains character through its relationship with the exterior, done with entries, circulation or views. The building and the landscape should not be independent, but rather incorporated completely. Melding with the essence of site is how a building belongs in place. Fifth is Culture versus Nature: Topography, Context, Climate, Light and Tectonic Form. “Critical regionalism necessarily involves a more directly dialectic relation with nature, more than abstract, formal traditions of modern avant-garde architecture allow.” (Frampton, 1987) Connecting to the natural world, in direct or abstract links, is the key to critical regionalism. Alvar Aalto’s Säynätsalo Town Hall in Figure 154c and 155a is the design that first became known as the critical regionalist style. “The building is designed with emphasis on function and

Figure 154a Figure 154b

Figure 154c


Figure 155a

156 rationality, yet draws influence from traditional styles and uses traditional materials like brick and wood accents to reflect and complement the heavily forested surroundings.” (Chanowitz, 2016) In this way, it uses the context to draw inspiration and it borrows elements (materials, textures, forms) from the surrounding landscape to fit into place. Figure 154b the horizontal context is accentuated with the horizontal brick movement. It is in the same red earthy tones as the surrounding soil. In this way, the building grows from the landscape. The trees surrounding the site are expressed as vertical structural elements. These reach the height and have the same volumous quality as the trees and allows the building to be a continuation of the forest-like environment. It embodies the main principles of this movement, and shows the important of influencing all the senses using design elements.

The last point is therefore the Visual versus the Tactile, which involves the sensory experience. This links the style to phenomenology and aural architecture too. The visual relationship is important, since it is the bulk of the experience, but tactility is just as important in a well-rounded envelopment in place. “Critical Regionalism seeks to complement our normative visual experience by readdressing the tactile range of human perceptions. In so doing, it endeavors to balance the priority accorded to the image and to counter the Western tendency to interpret the environment in exclusively perspectival terms.” (Frampton, 1987) By bringing awareness to the other senses in architecture, people can connect to the space on more levels. “According to Frampton, Ando’s definition of space, which is defined by basic geometric shapes,

Figure 156a

157 is in a harmony with the environment and the place’s cultural qualities.” (Beyazli, 2015) He is considered one of the best examples to show the key points of critical regionalism. His designs are rooted in simple Japanese culture, with an emphasis on the connection to nature. This can be seen in most of his designs as an obvious link. An excellent example of Ando’s buildings is the Benesse House in Naoshima, Japan, seen in Figure 156a. “The space serves as a very modern museum and hotel yet it has such a direct connection with nature and lets in a ton of natural light.” (Martin, 2013) His space keeps the tranquil character of the surrounding landscape, maintaining contact with the natural world. He doesn’t break this link, bringing in the landscape and natural light into his spaces to enhance the fluidity of the experience. The massive circular

cut in the floor repeats as a circular water pond. This connection to sky, water and earth makes the user feel more connected to environmental elements. Figure 157a shows how the organic aperture softens the space, giving a gathering point that people can circle around. The light comes in as a portal and diffuses into the rest of the space. Organic form assists in movement, light and general character of space. This can be seen in Figure 157b. The water reflects the light and planting above, doubling the experience of sky and natural colour. “Fusing with the landscape and the sea, the Oval and its wonderful garden offer a completely different nature experience.” (Thuroczy, 2013) The landscape grows over the building, spilling through the gap. This can be seen in Figure 158a and 159a, showing a different angle of the

Figure 157a

Figure 157b

158 building. The water oval also acts as a connection to the ocean, almost like a fragment of the landscape embedded within the design. The use of simple materials and forms makes the space a tranquil and exceptional experience, drawing attention to the user being in the space on all sensory levels. The user is not overwhelmed, but rather awed by the magnitude of the space. This design links features like planting and water to blend the space into surrounding context. It is important to connect architecture to site and place. This is the site in raw form; it is the everchanging landscape. “Embrace and live within the environment in a responsible manner.� (Price, 2006) The delicate response to context that makes the building well-attuned to the landscape is what critical regionalism seeks. It pursues the link to the natural world that is vital for a building to

belong where it has been constructed. This link can be difficult in areas where the context has been built over and becomes limited, but this is simply a reconstructed context and can still be responded to. The link to location is important for the sake of climate response and comfortable living, appropriate forms and materials, and how the people and buildings nearby respond to it. The building in Figure 160a is the Academie MWD in Dilbeek by Carlos Arroyo. It is an example of critical regionalism since the facade design is perfectly suited to the surroundings. The glass is reflective on one side and colourful on the other. When viewed at the right angle, the surrounding trees are mirrored in the reflection, and the forest surroundings seem to continue over the building, blurring the two. “In one direction the reflection of the trees is seen, in

Figure 158a

159 the other a series of blues, grays and whites from the sky and the facing cultural center. Looked at straight on, the building becomes a burst of color, in homage to a painting by the aforementioned Alfons Hoppenbrouswers where he transcribed a piece of music by a Flemish composer from 1497 into colors and visual rhythms.� (Arroyo, 2013) Figure 161a shows the vertical and horizontal rhythms of the glass. Figure 161b demonstrates how the built form steps at angles with its roofing. The cantilevered roof draws the user into the building, creating an extravagant entry point. It acts similarly to the way a tree extends out and offers a protective canopy. The rest of the roofs get lower as they approach the tree-line, slowly causing the building to blend and disappear within the trees. There is almost no clear boundary from where the building ends and the trees begin, so it seems to have grown and extended from there.

This is how it becomes contextually appropriate. It would not work placed anywhere else. The aspect that all of these buildings have in common is that in order to fit best into the region, the link to nature is important in creating harmony between building and landscape. The natural landscape and surroundings have to be understood in order for the building to match the underlying character. The building needs to have similar materials, whether this is done physically with local materials, or visually with similar material (in colour or texture) or even just the suggestion of the same material (reflective material). It has to follow the movement patterns of the landscape so that it is not out of place. It must respond passively to all climatic systems so as to function best. A building in a hot climate will have large eaves and fenestration techniques to keep heat out. A cold climate will maximise

Figure 159a “T he most desirable characteristic of an authentic architecture of regionalism rooted in expressing values, heritag es, and the culture of that region.� (Zahiri, Dezhdar and Foroutan, 2016)


Figure 160a


Figure 161a

Figure 161b thermal designs and insulate properly. These need to be considered for their exact site for them to be relevant. The building needs to be appropriate for where it is placed in terms of economic and social context as well. Cheaper materials that are more readily available and easily constructed are well suited to buildings that aren’t as well funded. Complicated technological systems are saved for high budgeted projects rather than an RDP scheme. These are just as important to consider so that the building does not become alien to the surroundings and the user. A well placed building is rooted in place to the extent that it appears to have belonged there from the beginning, and no other response could be imagined.

The synthesis with nature makes the experience unbroken as the user moves from outside to inside. The parts of the landscape that give it character and make it different from any other place are what the architect mimics in order to make the building belong. Learning from the spirit of nature makes architecture in this style more likely to have genius loci. The connection to nature is vital since the context is so deeply rooted in nature (its history and culture).





Organic architecture, Phenomenology and Critical Regionalism are movements that look to nature and context in order to better design an appropriate response. The way they do this is by learning from the natural surroundings so as to blend the building with the landscape. This is how they link to the spirit of place. These techniques and strategies can be learned and reused for a final deign approach.


Each of these movements have similarities in their design strategy, as well as the elements included in any given building. These can be compared and analyzed in order to create a new design approach and a toolbox of design elements. Organic architecture, as the name implies, looks to the organic: nature. Forms, materials and flow of buildings are all based on natural inspiration. This is shared with phenomenology, which uses natural materials for their experiential qualities. Textures, colours and light are manipulated for visual stimulation. Critical regionalism follows suit by using movement, response to the natural environment and invading plants to blur the relationship between landscape and architecture. All of these aspects can be combined into a set of criteria that can be designed for with a new project.

surroundings, and the general feel of the place. In this way, there are a few key aspects that can e studied on the site at first glance.

The starting point is to look to nature. This is the topography, the objects contained within, the

With these in mind, a design toolbox can be created. This chapter will compile all of the

Materiality Textures Natural Objects like trees, planting, etc Landscape Movement Immediate Surroundings Climate Orientation Colour Existing on Site


164 design elements for consideration. Materiality: This is what makes up the site. It can be the type of soil, the rocks, the planting and any other material in the vicinity that can be mimicked in some way. Textures: These come from the materials. A cliff side has a different texture compared to a forest. Both can be copied either directly with the same materials, or light manipulation and material manipulation can give the impression of texture. Natural objects: These are translated in the building either around or within the structure. Nature can invade the structure, creeping within. It can also be used inside the building with planting and courtyards. It is as much a building block as any other material. Water, sands, gravel,

etc are also usable materials. Landscape Movement: This can be discovered through the topography. Flat sites have horizontal lines, while steep ones have terraced vertical ones. Some sites meander and cascade, and some have sudden drops after a plateau. These can be mimicked with form and flow of the building. Immediate Surroundings: If it is an urban setting, or set in the countryside, the building will respond differently. Major natural features will also influence the design. These are bodies of water or mountains, etc. These can also be maximized through transparency and reflectivity, since the site can be continued this way. Climate: These are the sun patterns and the seasonal influences. This affects what heating and cooling strategies can be used. Thermal strategies

Figure 164a

165 or cooling strategies will be more or less necessary depending on the area. In Johannesburg, the summers are hot and wet, while the winters are cold and dry. This can be designed for accordingly. Orientation: This is a key factor, since it will affect where the openings are in a design. Daylight is important here, since natural light can be used for many purposes. These are texture, symbolism, character and general natural lighting. The eaves, screens and sunlight protection systems are also influenced. Colour: This can be in the surroundings or the site material itself. It is just as evocative as materiality and defines the character of place.

on site before construction can influence design. These are either demolished, recycled, or renovated. Old buildings have their own character, and this can also be retained. To summarize, the toolbox therefore comprises of: Light Materiality Texture Movement Organic forms Invading plants Planting in building Transparency and reflection Volume and shape Taking advantage of natural surroundings

Existing on Site: Existing buildings or features

Figure 165a


Figure 166a

Figure 166b


Figure 167a

Figure 167b

168 Figure 164a shows Light. Figure 165a shows Materiality. Figure 166a shows Site Movement. Figure 166b shows Reflection, Transparency and taking advantage of Site Surroundings. Figure 167a shows Volume, Shape and Texture. Figure 167b shows Planting and Form. These sketches all give examples of how this information can be extrapolated from the site and be turned into a design decision. This will be done later in the research during the Visual Analysis stage of the design. In this way, a responsive design that follows the ideals of other successful buildings can be put into place. One of the few criticisms this research has for these movements is that while they create genius loci through a connection to site and place, they

fail in other more technical standards. Daylighting may bring natural light and large openings may create places for passive heating and cooling, but creating a building that is responsive on a green organism level is not the primary objective. Design that links to context is certainly the first step to creating a sustainable approach that can live harmoniously in the landscape, however, they fail to ask the question of: What would nature do? The movements look to what nature does on an experiential and visual level, but this can be taken further. Nature functions as a perfect cyclic organism, taking and giving from the environment in balance. Every design decision in nature is for a reason and each one is multidimensional. Nature’s genius is endless, and organisms within it have survived for a long time. If we want to create long-lasting healthy

Figure 168a

169 architecture that behaves like a natural system, we can learn from the existing. The movement that does this is Biomimicry, and it is explored in the next chapters. Organic architecture borrows forms and movement from nature. Biomimicry asks why those forms are being used, and maximizes this function. Phenomenology asks how architecture can immerse people in a sensory experience. It attempts to recreate the quality of the landscape in the building. These qualities often have more than a spiritual and emotional purpose, but the physical benefits can also be monopolized. Any building can claim to create experience, but if this is linked to the emotional value of the site and the program, it gains more meaning. If any given environment has a specific character, it is because the system functions best with those qualities. This can be questioned further to ask why it is important to keep these characteristics? What are their purpose other than giving a distinct spirit of place? An example of this might be a desert landscape that gives an endless stretch of horizontal landscape with few vertical interruptions. In this sense, the barren and vast quality is what is borrowed by phenomenology. The sand textures and sunlight are used to alter the sensory experience. However, the creatures that exist in such a habitat are built in particular ways too. Beatles with rounded backs for collecting water for example, or cacti that have thick succulent leaves. If a building in such a scenario were to mimic these experiences as well, they could function better in the landscape. It might be best for how the building collects and stores water, as

an example. Critical Regionalism looks to the location to dictate the architecture. Each design is rooted to its place, unique to that exact site and no other. It takes natural qualities that emphasize this link and meld it seamlessly with the surroundings. The conditions on each site require different sustainable approaches, and here critical regionalism does attempt to follow correctly. Even this movement can take the contextually appropriate green design step further. The passive systems that work in specific areas and climates can also be borrowed by organisms that already live there. Clever systems that require complex designs can often be simplified by looking to how nature achieves the same. If all these movements take the contextual link a step further, architecture in the future will be rooted to its place with an entirely different definition. Genius loci will be apparent because the building is living in its environment and settling as any other living creature might. It contributed to the landscape and utilizes the resources around it to function accordingly. Humanity can live in a more unified manner, and linking to nature is the way this research believes it can be achieved. Many successful movements, such as the ones explored before, have created beautiful structures that achieve a seamless relationship with nature. The perfect symbiotic cohabitation is the last step.




This chapter is the final stage in the research, since it is a culmination of everything that has been discussed. Biomimicry understands the importance of looking to nature, and it proposes a future where all design learns from nature’s genius in order to function best. These case studies will also be explored so that a biomimetic approach may be used in the final building.


Mimicking nature and learning from its genius is the ultimate way to integrate and connect to nature. It is often a misunderstood science, since people imagine that the imitation of nature is done in an obvious and straightforward manner1. Biomimicry is an emulation on all levels. Nature can be imitated by copying function or structure, rather than just form or appearance. It takes a problem and learns how nature solves it before tackling the challenge ourselves and adapting it to suit us. Nature is an extensive resource, particularly for functional, structural or aesthetic issues in architecture. “The way biological systems solve problems is pretty different from the way engineered systems solve problems.” (Niewiarowski, 2016) When people approach

1 Copying the aesthetic of nature without any of the possible architectural innovations that could come from that physical form.

design solutions, they tend to be ‘crude and additive’ since we rely heavily on the use of more materials and more energy. However, it is the overuse of these that makes our solutions so costly. Nature does everything with minimal material and energy, relying on “unique geometry and material properties.” (Mortice, 2016) Nature is the ultimate teacher: creating everything perfectly, with minimal effort. Nature is said to be ‘lazy and intelligent’, always choosing the easiest course of action. (Adriaenssens, 2016). The problem with architecture is that, on top of the large amounts of energy and material going into its inception, it still does not have a way of reusing the waste. “But for designers, biology offers lessons in hyper-efficient resource



“Ultimately, Biomimicry seeks to understand how we ought to integrate ourselves with nature. I find hope in the principle that, in nature, there are no hard boundaries or edges; materials merge together seamlessly. Perhaps through the emulation of nature, we will come to live more symbiotically with it, and our environments will become both closer to nature and less invasive to it.�


Figure 173a

174 Biomimicry is the imitation of nature and its processes to design solutions to challenges that nature has already solved. “Biomimicry in architecture and manufacturing is the practice of designing buildings and products that simulate or co-opt processes that occur in nature.” (Mortice, 2016)

Figure 174a stewardship and circular economies.” (Mortice, 2016) Nature uses closed loops in all its processes, for example, converting its waste back into food to nourish itself again. This is the ideal way to design, and we should learn from nature’s example. The natural world has an innate spirit of place, and just as we would study a tree for structure or distribution of water and nutrients, so too can we study it to recreate atmosphere. There are various tools that nature uses to create spirit in a place, and these can be recreated as elements in architecture. These were studied in detail in earlier chapters, with natural elements that architects have at their disposal. Figure 176a is a good example of using nature’s lessons to make dappled tree-like space that possesses genius loci. Named the Light of Shodoshima by Wen-Chih Wang, it is built entirely from bamboo, making it

completely recycled without waste. Nature does not produce waste either, and in this way the building has mimicked a key sustainable technique through the use of actual natural material. This is just one of the ways to achieve biomimetic design. The texture created by the woven bamboo is reminiscent of dappled tree lighting, giving the impression of being within a small forest clearing. This is shown in Figure 177a. The woven technique is learned from nest structures made by birds, another approach to biomimicry (copying form and material). On all levels of design, we can look to the natural world for a more efficient way to create environments. On the energy level, nature works on an equal input and output system. We should be using renewable and non-toxic energy sources as nature does. This would create no toxic waste output, and would ensure our future


“Life creates conditions conducive to life.� T he wheel shows the stag es of design from a biomimetic perspective. One can star t anywhere on the wheel and begin the process of discovering nature-based solutions.

Figure 175a



Figure 176a

177 energy needs. Nature is one of the most efficient cleansers too. The process called ‘biomediation’ involves using plants to take in polluted air, and it is a far superior method to cleansing waste. (Tsui, 1999, p20) Plants have the ability to assist in climate control too. Passive systems are far more effective and cheaper than mechanical systems that heat or cool buildings. “A single tree has the same cooling effect as a dozen mechanical air conditioners running day and night.” (Tsui, 1999, p20) This is staggering, since it is a natural, non-harmful and cost-effective way to solve a design challenge, and yet so many buildings choose to install air conditioners. It is a shift in how we design that is required, one that looks to nature for better interior environments. In this way, we can have more efficient sustainable buildings that actually

Figure 177a

mutually empower the surrounding environment instead of damaging it. Trees assist with all forms of pollution (noise and air) and they become a home to animals and insects, helping maintain local biodiversity. They keep the soil together, assisting in the ground stability and nutrition. This prevents erosion and also increases the capacity for the ground to soak in rainwater. Nature works on many levels simultaneously, every organism serving more than one function, showing a perfect example of extreme efficiency. “This living water community can now be used as an integral water-cleansing mechanism for the inhabitants of any variety of buildings.” (Tsui, 1999, p20) Pools, ponds, marshes and wetlands all have the potential to assist in passive design strategies. Water filtering plants combined with marsh-like environments can cleanse dirty

Figure 177b

178 “Evolutionary architecture can be defined as an architecture that implements the evolutionary practices of nature as a synthesis of billions of years of evolution applied to immediate needs and circumstances of form, function and purpose.” ~Tsui, 1999, p12~

Figure 178a water for reuse. Water is also regenerative to the biodiversity, allowing a greater range of species to thrive. The cooling properties of a body of water near a building are energy efficient and more effective. If we use nature’s processes, the cyclic nature of these same processes is mutually beneficial to the natural world too. We can use water, reuse and filter it so that it can be used for irrigation, for example. Grey water is the easiest to recycle, easily reused in bathrooms for flushing toilets. Black water is the most harmful and difficult to manage, but certain types of bacteria may be able to break it down and convert it to fuel. (AlgaeWorldNews, 2017) Designing the way nature does, with individual parts feeding into a greater ecosystem, allows a building can also be “self-regulating and selfgoverning”. (Tsui, 1999, p21) If buildings could respond to any rising challenge by coming

up with their own solutions, all they would need is a system that has the latent strengths and capabilities to tackle any potential issue. Intelligent buildings can have the same level of responsiveness as living organisms. “Past and present architectural procedures employ huge amounts of energy for fabrication of materials, transportation and erection of the building.” (Tsui, 1999, p21) Nature believes only in the path of the most efficiency. When using material, nature is able to calculate exactly how much is needed and where in order to still perform perfectly. In this way, a lot of architecture is wasting resources when we have unnecessary or wasteful elements. If we design as nature does, with form and structure only as a necessity, we can save on material and labour costs. The building in Figure 179a is the California Academy of Sciences by Renzo Piano. Most of


Figure 179a

180 his designs achieve a coexistence with nature, responding accordingly to the site and typology. The meeting point in the building is covered by a glass canopy with a reticular structure, copying the structure of a spider web. Webs are strong and resistant despite their flimsy appearance. Figure 178a shows how the structure of the building works. In Figure 177b the flow of the landscape and the cooling technique used is seen. The rounded domes allow air to flow and keep the space cool. The ground above flows as if it were uninterrupted, and there are portals of light that look down into the planted space. Figure 174a shows how this design’s shape and movement mimic natural flow. “The canopy continues, on both sides, in a green and curved roof, covered with 1,700,000 selected autochthonous plants planted in a

specifically conceived biodegradable coconut-fiber containers.” (Greallegretti, 2014) In this way, the building attempts to reduce the waste produced, closing the cycle. The use of natural forms, natural materials and natural waste treatment techniques are the ways this building copies nature’s genius. The green roof blends into the landscape and maintains the site and biodiversity, meaning the building continues to contribute to the surroundings. “When nature has a problem, evolution weeds out what doesn’t work and selects the most effective adaptations. Humans could also address environmental problems by using biomimicry — examining nature’s solutions and applying them to human designs.” (Pawlyn, 2016) Evolutionary architecture takes into account everything that goes into the building and all the processes that

Figure 180a

181 make them run. These include energy, heating, cooling, water, waste, noise, use of space, natural light, fresh air and optimal utilisation of materials and resources. If these are taken into account in every design, buildings will stop being ‘man-overnature’ and start being informed by the context. Evolutionary architecture is another way to describe the biomimicry movement. It is the architecture of the future, a necessary step in our building’s evolutionary progression.2 Tsui talks about an evolutionary versus a conventional approach. “Architecture is a ‘machine for living’. Nature is ancillary. The environment must be controlled and made comfortable through familiarity and convenience.” This is a thought

2 This is studied in detail in the book ‘Evolutionary Architecture, Nature as a Basis for Design” by Eugene Tsui.

Figure 181a

process from the modern industrial movement. A natural approach: “Uses the intelligence of nature as a design directive and integrates natural phenomena and processes as an essential aspect of the resultant design.” (Tsui, 1999, p15) The difference between these two approaches is where biomimicry begins. In a natural landscape, the environment is adapted to its context. The vegetation ‘plants’ rainfall, gathering it into the earth to reduce runoff and evade drought. Plants maximise collection of sunlight with the design of their leaves. When the leaves fall, they fertilise the ground, ensuring the future of the plant’s growth. Nature is balanced in the sense that everything works in a cycle. Buildings that apply the knowledge from nature have a softer response and cause less damage to the surrounds. Concrete and built surfaces

Figure 181b

Figure 181c

“It is a universal tr uth that we are intimately connected to the living forces that give for m and meaning to all things. And yet, how seldom do we honour the presence of such forces?” (Tsui, 1999, p7)



Figure 182a

Figure 182b

183 “We are in dire need of environments that teach us about the beauty and profundities of nature, that invite us to look and to point the way to a higher understanding of life and the interconnectedness of all things.” (Tsui, 1999, p32)

Figure 183a are harsh, disrupting the natural flow of forces such as water, wind and sunlight. Water floods cities when the storm water system is congested. Turbulent winds and narrow passages in buildings affect wind currents. Tall buildings cast large shadows and prevent sunlight from reaching the same areas they once did. The difference between the way we have been designing and the way nature designs is becoming clear. One is inevitably going to come to an end, while the other has been functioning successfully for centuries. This is why we should copy the way the environment is designed. There are endless possibilities when it comes to this innovation. “Solar panels designed to track the sun like sunflowers, roof planes designed to draw water to a central downspout like leaves drawing water down a stem, service ducts integrated with structural members and material

Figure 183b around branching structural nodes thickened to strengthen the joint and reduce torque.” (Holverstott, 2008) The building in Figure 180a is Wright’s Johnson’s Wax Offices. “Mushroom-shaped columns, pyrex skylights and earthy coloured furnishings” are the key elements of the design that are linked to nature. (Gibson, 2017) The structure is built to resemble a forest, the columns linking at the top like a canopy. The light quality and volume has the same character as a forest. The structural characteristics of such a column far exceed normal designs. Figure 181a shows how the forms mimic tree structures. Nature maximizes efficiency, so the over-design element is something natural systems do well. The surrounding landscape was unappealing, so he chose instead to focus views on the sky, so the site still relates to context. Figure 181b and 181c


184 show this focus on letting in light and views. In the same way the previous movements work, this building also connects to the context to create its own genius loci. The building in Figure 182a and 182b is the Swallow’s Nest design by Vincent Callebaut. It aspires to be a zero carbon emission structure, much like a nest found in nature. The structure and form twist in three dimensions, similar to a nest. This can be seen in Figure 184a. “Vincent Callebaut just unveiled a spiraling new cultural center for Taichung that combines bioclimatic architectural elements and complex geometry to create a landmark destination where art and literature are celebrated alongside nature.” (Laylin, 2013) Figure 183a and 183b show how the twisting forms mimic a nest-like structure. The

shape and volume created work because natural forms achieved them first. By copying how a nest is able to keep its structural integrity through form analysis, a built form with similar properties can be achieved. This is one of the key benefits of biomimetic design. “Ultimately, biomimicry seeks to understand how we ought to integrate ourselves with nature. I find hope in the principle that, in nature, there are no hard boundaries or edges; materials merge together seamlessly. Perhaps through the emulation of nature, we will come to live more symbiotically with it, and our environments will become both closer to nature and less invasive to it.” (Holverstott, 2008) This is what this research hopes to achieve with the final building. The hard edges and boundaries that define enclosure can

Figure 184a

185 be softened and blurred to a point where they are more indistinguishable. Architecture that is in symbiosis with nature is able to be less harmful and more adaptive. It is the ultimate form of sustainability, becoming like nature (which is unquestionably sustainable). In emulating nature on all levels, a deeper connection can be made to the environment. This link can affect the human spirit as well, creating genius loci.

Figure 185a


case study 1 mick p earce & ar u p as s oci ates h arare

eastg ate centre : biomimetic architecture

Figure 186a

Figure 186b

187 “Climate change increases demand for air conditioning, yet in Harare, Zimbabwe, the Eastgate Centre, a shopping mall and office block that opened 20 years ago, presents an alternative. Its design was inspired by termite mounds, biological miracles of temperature control in extreme environments. The centre maintains comfortable conditions indoors without air conditioning. Anyone who insists we need air con in cooler climates than Zimbabwe must conclude we are less ingenious than termites.” (Pawlyn, 2016)

naturally. “The most deeply biomimetic buildings are those that utilize functional properties learned from nature.” (Holverstott, 2008)

Biomimicry can emulate nature on more than just aesthetic levels, as shown in this building, which copies the functional and structural design found in nature. Termite mounds are already a passive design solution for hot climates. There is no need to overuse energy with air-conditioning when there are efficient and cheap ways to do it

The building mimics cooling techniques used in a natural structure. Other living organisms that are able to passively achieve their function can be studied and various other solutions such as this can be achieved.

“The Eastgate Center, designed by Mick Pearce, uses cold night air to cool the building mass. Daytime air is then drawn in through the first floor, is cooled by the mass, and rises up through the building to ventilate out chimneys. As a result, the structure uses less than 10 percent of the energy of a typical building its size.” (Holverstott, 2008)

Figure 187a

Figure 187b

Figure 187c

Figure 187d


case study 2 arch itects of i nventi on s eychel l es

coral holiday apar tments design

Figure 188a

Figure 188b

189 “In an effort to replicate sustainability solutions from nature, the project utilizes biomimicry and is based on the models, systems, and growth of coral. The architect states that “the structures of the project derives from the content of units in continuous movement resembling a sea creature, coral or the moving of the sea.” (Santos, 2016) “Each unit acts as an individual organism just as a coral – growing cell by cell forming large conglomerations.” (Architects of Invention, 2016) Coral structures itself in an efficient way so as to maximise strength with its stacked structure. In these apartments it achieves a design that gives views to each resident. This makes the architecture ideal for capturing the beautiful aesthetic and visuals of the ocean. The ocean brings a sense of tranquility and happiness to people, so increasing the link to it makes the design more successful. Nature helps people relax

and reduce their stress, so the more units that can face the ocean, the better the effect will be on the residents. The form is also reminiscent of the waves of the ocean, and the organic shape makes the building very suitable to the context. It connects the building to the setting and exudes the ocean’s character. Biomimicry uses structure as a template for better engineering in architecture as well as finding forms that fit well in a natural context. It follows the aesthetic form as well as the structural principles of coral to get its design. The way coral grows or sea creatures moves is similar to this curved form. Biomimicry can mimic form that is appropriate to context. This can be done by studying various structures that exist successfully in nature. This can be applied to any context as well.

Figure 189a

Figure 189b

Figure 189c

Figure 189d


case study 3 rob er t, h ar vey, o s hatz archi tectu re po r tland, oreg on

the fennel residence

Figure 190a

Figure 190b

Figure 190c

191 “Consider the Fennell Residence by Robert Oshatz, a floating home with a sweeping roof evocative of a nautilus shell.” (Holverstott, 2008) The shell form is shown clearly in the images. It is deeply rooted in context, the form chosen to suit the watery scenery. It achieves a contextually appropriate, organic design that has an immersive sensory experience. It combines the principles of all the movements that prioritize the link to nature. “The project is focused on the poetry of the ripples and contours of the river, its never ending flow, the view, and the interrelationship concerning the play of the sun and moon as it courses through the days of the year.” (Oshatz, 2005) This roots the form beautifully in place, the curved spiral reminiscent of the flow of water. The structure is successfully based on the

structure of shells that utilise the golden ratio. This ratio is perfectly proportioned and found in many natural examples. It is built using gulam wood beams, which are cheaper and more material efficient than normal timber. It is also passively heated with a glass facade and naturally ventilated using windows and coolth from the water. The construction of the residence did not disrupt the existing ecosystem or water, making it a sustainable approach on many levels. In this way it is a great example of biomimetic principles being applied. There exist sacred geometries in nature, and these structures work due to the exact lines of form. These can be copied in built forms, much like this building. This is what makes the building appropriate.

Figure 191a

Figure 191b

Figure 191c

Figure 191d


case study 4 h er tzo g an d d e m eu ron ch in a

the beijing national stadium

Figure 192a

Figure 192b

Figure 192c

193 “The Beijing National Stadium by Herzog & de Meuron with an exposed steel frame inspired by a bird’s nest” is another good example of biomimicry in architecture. (Holverstott, 2008) In this case, the design replicates the aesthetic and structural system of an upturned bird’s nest. In nature, these are able to withstand a lot of force, making this ideal to copy for the massive span required and the resistance to earthquakes. “The ‘nest’ structure, however random it might look, follows the rules of geometry and contains 36km of unwrapped steel. The shape of the roof was inspired by yin yang, the Chinese philosophy of balance and harmony.” (DesignBuild, 2017) This philosophy is rooted in natural concepts, and the balance achieved in this design. The complex design for the structure works well because it learned from the existing success found in nature.

This is how biomimicry works, and how it is becoming more relevant in today’s day and age. This design was made possible with complicated modelling programs that were able to calculate as nature does. As technology advances, more intricately mimicked designs will be possible. Programs, 3D printing and others make it possible for us to design on the same level as nature does. We can mimic nature from the micro to the macro scale. In this way, from even the smallest aspect, our buildings can function as the natural world does. Sustainable, efficient systems that work in closed loops with maximum strength and minimum input are within our grasp. Natural systems translated into structural and aesthetic solutions can be applied anywhere.

Figure 193a

Figure 193b

Figure 193c

Figure 193d




These principles put forward by Biomimicry are steps in aiding the design process. These are explained in terms of the final design, since this is where they are being put into practice. They are the way designer’s approach and interact with nature in order to solve architectural problems.


Using Life’s Principles to design.



“Biomimicr y will be one of the most useful tools for developing cities fit for the ecological ag e.� (Pawlyn, 2016)

Figure 196a


Incorporate diversity Maintain integrity through self-renewal Embody resilience through variation, redundancy and decentralization Maintain existing plant resources, such as the trees, shrubs and nursery planting. Encourage the growth of existing ecosystems with local plant and bird life. Re-use of decomposed material or waste as compost to help fertilize plants. Recycle storm water and clean polluted water to use for irrigation in a wetland system. Use a connected leaf-like system of buildings that can network with each other. BE LOCALLY ATTUNED AND RESPONSIVE

Leverage cyclic processes Use readily available materials and energy Use feedback loops Cultivate cooperative relationships Use passive design systems to take advantage of sun patterns and wind. Use natural local materials such as compressed earth bricks, stone and recycled timber. Maximize renewable energy like solar or hydroelectric. Grow vegetables for the surrounding community. Allow the local community to have access to excess power generated during emergencies. Allow an App system that maximizes feedback loops by inputting the success digitally. USE LIFE-FRIENDLY CHEMISTRY

Break down products into benign constituents Build selectively with small subset of elements Do chemistry in water Use building materials that can be recycled after use.

Use buildings with simple maintenance on materials. Design a building with a closed life-cycle system. Use materials that have a natural feel to it in a minimal way. BE RESOURCE EFFICIENT

Use low-energy processes Multi-functional design Recycle all materials Fit form to function Recycle excavated and removed site material. Roofs and walls collect storm water to maximize collection. Design the form to maximise learning about nature (many connections and emulations). Recycled earth or timber in material designs. Use compost toilets to fertilise nursery. INTEGRATE DEVELOPMENT WITH GROWTH

Self-organise Build from the bottom-up Combine modular and nested components Make the structure easy to maintain (able to sustain itself mostly). Use gravity powered irrigation for minimum input. Use modular buildings or interventions that are linked in the most efficient way. EVOLVE TO SURVIVE

Replicate strategies that work Integrate the unexpected Reshuffle information Use a wetland system to filter water, since it works so well already. Incorporate surprising connections with nature that blur the concept of boundary. Make mundane space more extraordinary.


the 9 principles of biomimicr y by janine benyus

1. Nature runs on sunlight.

energy being used in a building. This can be controlled through efficient design.

Just as nature relies purely on sunlight to function, architecture can become dependent on the sun for all its energy needs too. If the building absorbs, collects and utilizes sunlight on a daily basis, the overall carbon footprint of the building will be drastically reduced.

- Artificial lighting is kept to a minimum. - Electronic powered heating and cooling systems are kept to a minimum. - Energy is used when it is needed, so systems turn off when they are not in use.

- This can be done with solar panels or solar powered devices that turn the sun’s energy into electricity. - Maximizing daylighting can take care of a buildings lighting needs during the day. - The sun entering the building should be seasonally adjusted in order to passively heat or cool.

The forms chosen in nature are well suited to their function. In this same way, architectural forms should suit their function. The structure and aesthetic should cater to the function in such a way that the form makes for a better and more efficient design.

2. Nature uses only the energy it needs. This would require no excess or wasted

3. Nature fits form to function.

- Form can be inspired by an existing natural structural organism. This is for the sake of strength or shape needs that can be fulfilled by copying what already works.


Figure 199a - Form can be visually appropriate to site. - Form can be ideally suited to an internal function. - Form can suit the concept or program. 4. Nature recycles everything.

- Recycle removed plants to reuse on roof gardens. 5. Nature rewards cooperation.

In nature, there is no such thing as waste. Everything that it uses and produces can be used again. Nature works in closed cycles, and in a perfect world, architecture would do the same. Since this is unlikely to be achieved in totality, it has to be done through smaller acts.

Nature relies on all the organisms in an ecosystem to keep the cycle of life going. They all support each other and ensure growth continues. In architecture, the built environment can still coexist with the existing environment. Inclusions can be made so that the building becomes a part of the ecosystem rather than destroying it.

- Recycle the excavated land to use during the construction. - Recycle and filter all the grey water in the system for reuse. - Recycle any trees removed or wood from old buildings to be used as cladding. - Recycle demolished buildings for large aggregate.

- Allow biodiversity to continue to make use of the space through green walls, roofs, etc. - Give water back to the system through recycling and filtering. - Create compost out of waste to fertilise the soil. - Collect energy, water and food, and give excess back to the community.

200 6. Nature banks on diversity. It is important to conserve our natural biodiversity. In this sense, diversity is more successful in terms of the ecosystem. In this sense, diversity also has to do with the building having many different functions, much like the organisms in a system.

- The structure, form, aesthetic, materials, systems, etc would ideally serve a dual purpose. - One design decision can have multiple benefits, such as high windows that bring in light can also be used to vent air. - The building respects and protects the landscape it is situated in, and gives back to this environment as much as it takes away. 7. Nature demands local expertise.

Relying on local labour, materials and technical expertise is a smarter way to build. It requires less resources and it is always at a lower cost. This is a critical regionalist approach, since doing so also roots the design in its place.

- Recycle any demolished or removed materials on site. - Use site or local materials as the primary building blocks of the design. - Include the community in the process through education on simple construction systems. - Take advantage of local expertise and special skills by adding unique design aspects. 8. Nature curbs excesses from within. This is done by using every resource available to the fullest potential. This includes closed

201 cycles that involve re-using the waste produced as well. The aim is to create architecture that is able to run at its highest efficiency with the smallest input.

that architecture takes advantage of even the most difficult surroundings and scenarios. It is through this that we can handle harsh situations in the future.

- All waste to be treated and reused or recycled. - All structural systems to use the least amount of material to achieve the strongest result.

- Use materials to their peak strength and breaking point so as to maximize the benefits. - Be prepared for the best and worst case scenario.

9. Nature taps the power of limits. Nature is constantly pushing the limits of what is possible. The structures produced by nature, if we were to repeat them on a larger scale, would be immensely intricate and complex, but perfectly structurally sound without over-designing. Nature is able to survive on very little at times, and it is these aspects that we can learn from and mimic so

All of these natural elements show that nature functions as a perfect system. It is the ideal goal for how any creation, architecture or engineering, should perform. The answers to any problem we face lie in nature, and they can create sustainability that has a positive impact on the ecosystem and a green future that will last longer than we could hope to expect.

Figure 201a

202 Claire Janisch is a chemical engineer who works in the field of Biomimicry, particularly how it can be applied to engineering or architectural solutions. She believes that architecture can be affected by the natural world if we cultivate cooperative relationships with nature. Nature is already a genius in the way that it functions, and it is up to designers to learn from this and apply it appropriately. Life’s principles are a new approach to design, where the first question asked is: How would nature do this? From an expert in the field of architecture, she answered some questions regarding the application of biomimicry and the importance of connecting to nature. She also gave input on the biomimetic approach and feasibility of the thesis building.

1. How do you believe architecture can be influenced by the natural world? - In all its products, processes and systems. Michael Pawlyn’s book, Biomimicry in Architecture, taught me the most on biomimicry in architecture. In particular: building more efficient structures, manufacturing materials, creating zero-waste systems, managing water, controlling the thermal environment, and producing energy for buildings. It is also about fitting into the natural world as a well-adapted species rather than trying to separate from the natural world as a mal-adapted species. 2. Do you think that there is currently a disconnection from the environment in our society? In the way we design and manage society yes. Civilization is about destroying the natural world from sterilization to concrete and more. 3. Do you think that spending time in nature is

important? Why? At a deeper level it resonates the natural rhythms of your body and mind back to a level of reconnection. At a more superficial level, just being in nature only goes so far. Having guides and fellow explorers that assist you in tapping into the wisdom and genius of nature is important. From a biomimicry perspective – having someone assist you with the translation of the principles and mechanisms, the strategies and blueprints – and how they relate to the design of your world – that’s important for a more relevant reconnect. 4. How do you think Biomimicry will influence the future in terms of design? It can influence everything. Whether it will or not is up to human will and intention. I find that the move towards biomimicry is being accelerated by pressures and challenges that need to be solved and only nature seems to have a solution. What makes these solutions possible are technologies such as electronic microscopes, 3D printing and the internet – that enable us to understand, mimic and collaborate on our emulation of nature. I think the leaps in efficiencies, the elimination of waste, and the deeper understanding of a blueprint for a sustainable world will be what leads more and more into recognizing the value of biomimicry. After that it depends on whether the current systems will accept biomimicry as model, measure and mentor. 5. Why (in your opinion) is it so important to go ‘green’ and protect the environment? Life depends on it. Life does not depend on money unless we choose it to, but does depend on clean air, fresh water and healthy soil – whether we want to choose that or not. We have to get down to the pure principle of the basics of


Figure 203a

life. When we had lots of space and the influence we had on nature and resources was minimal in comparison, it was alright. Now that we are influencing way more space, and our technologies are globally impactful - we have to recognise the damage being done. It’s not about going green at all, it’s about going ‘alive’. Going green is a superficial term that involves a few tweaks rather than overhauling the entire faulty system.

alive. If it’s a man-made built environment, then it’s the way people interact with it that bring it to life. From a biomimicry perspective we use a term: Genius of Place - which means literally what genius lies in this place (biological organisms and systems) that have figured out how best to thrive in that place. If we emulate their strategies, mechanisms and principles – we too can create and integrate within habitats (and thrive in them).

6. How do you understand the term ‘Genius Loci’ or ‘Spirit of Place’? Where do you find this spirit the most? Spirit has to do with “spire” which is related to breath – the very essence of aliveness. It’s what makes a place come alive and influences the way we interact with it. A person’s body parts are just that – until the spirit of the being animates it and breathes life into it. Same as a place. If it’s a natural space, then living beings literally bring it

7. How can life’s principles be applied to a centre that aims to integrate with nature in order to teach people about the connection between the built environment and nature? Biomimicry Life’s Principles are a set of deep patterns, strategies and principles that all organisms or systems in nature exhibit in their design and processes. These are what enable them to continually create conditions conducive to life while also being able to adapt and evolve.


Figure 204a This means they are the principles for longterm ‘thrival’ and survival. Of all the 100% of species that have ever lived on this planet, 99% no longer exist. It’s the 1% that have figured out how to be well-adapted to a finite, every changing planet (globally and locally). By emulating these principles in the way we design our built environment – we are recognising the genius and wisdom of being well-adapted to place in the long term. We are interconnected on a big planet for the long-haul, as are our offspring, and many other species. We should work together to make it work for us and everyone for years to come. If we don’t then we will end up likening ourselves to cancers that exist for a short period, and when they ‘win’ everything dies, including the cancer because it kills it’s host on which it depends.

8. How can the construction industry be influenced to use Biomimicry and natural

resources instead of the current working solutions? There are people researching the extents of this in Johannesburg as well, but essentially the way we make building materials (recipes and structures) and process them would be key. This involves the cyclic process that materials go through, and how we aspire to be more like nature in that we have minimal input and useful waste. 9. What are the most effective (over efficient) ways to make a building more green and sustainable? You can make an extremely efficient solar panel out of toxic chemistry and high energy - but in the bigger picture - it’s killing the environment. This is extremely inefficient because you need to spend many hours and lots of time to clean it up again. How nature does it, is by effectively solving for the efficiency of the whole system. Nature

205 makes a low-energy, life-friendly solar panel (a leaf) that turns into compost when it’s life is over. It uses readily available abundant materials in the environment (C, O, H, N) rather than scarce materials (often from deep underground). Most things in nature are modular, attuned and responsive to context, self-organizing, using only life-friendly materials, low energy input, collaborative with existing systems, cyclic processes, etc. It’s the implementation of all of life’s principles together that creates the optimized efficiency of the whole, rather than efficiency of a part at the expense of complete inefficiency of the whole. Systems thinking would start from the community level of the building - including the natural ecosystems of which it is part. Thereafter one would collaborate with local organisms (including people) to be well-adapted and leverage the genius and wisdom of experience to then figure out how best to apply these principles locally. Since some of the largest inefficiencies are in the way we move in the built environment - then the beginning point would be to design accessible, closer facilities that the community needs. Then consider local climate and how to best work with that rather than continuously fight against it (local species do this all the time). Consider orientation and position of the building, then consider the materials, using readily available abundant materials with nature’s low-energy, lifefriendly recipes. Then consider how to put these elements together most efficiently. We are capable of so much more than a few tweaks in buildings - it does require a lot of design genius up-front, but it’s time for humans to evolve rather than complain about their environment.

10. Energy, light, water, heating, cooling, and waste are the main issues to deal with in design.

How does nature handle these issues and how can that be applied? Michael Pawlyn’s book discusses in detail specific ways to apply these particular aspects of nature’s genius to architecture. 11. What is your favourite application of Biomimicry? Applying nature’s recipes and structures (like spider webs, glass sea sponges, shells, leaves, etc) to 3D printers and revolutionizing the entire materials world. 12. Why should architects change the way they design? I.e. What is the value for the architect and the user to completely change the way we approach design? It’s not so much completely changing, as just expanding the lense. One usually applies the principles of adapting to place - but only the economic and human civilization space. What if the lense expanded to the bigger wholistic system? One would most likely get to the same place as biomimics have. Solutions don’t have to be designed from scratch, there are already developed tools for doing it. It is important to note that it’s ancient practice to mimic nature, but now has the amazing fun of applying extraordinary technologies like 3D printing (we have evolved). 13. How do we sell the idea of biomimetic design to the people who are sceptical? People that are doing it already like Vincent Callebaut and Michael Pawlyn will lead the way. As the pressures on our natural systems become more urgent (e.g. the water crisis in Cape Town), then those crises will shift the awareness. We will know the importance of recognizing a broader

206 space and time horizon - thinking long-term, whole planet, etc. Biomimicry will then just be natural, once awareness is there.

14. Do you believe that this project could be a feasible and useful idea to its context? Every time an architect takes the time to figure out how to apply biomimicry to architecture as a whole, their practice evolves. Every lesson learned, whether a success or failure, is beneficial. The application of biomimicry - putting it into practice, can only be realised by doing it. Concepts are nothing without application to test. So yes, absolutely, this project that wants to push the boundaries of biomimicry is a project of the future and we can only know if it will work and be important if it is tested. 15. What is the value in creating more facilities

where people can learn about nature and Biomimicry? I think biomimicry has many answers to system level challenges of our world today. Most people don’t wish to change a system when don’t know where to head next. If there are living examples for people to explore what else is possible, and spark their imagination for other options, then that is a powerful tool to help shift the people and mind-sets. If I have seen a solution for water challenges and know that my water situation is dire, I will move towards that one. The key is to provide a place that integrates technologies, ecological systems, with long-term perspective and holistic integrated perspectives. Nature does that, and biomimicry (applied to the built environment & everything in it) does that for humans - so that we can be well-adapted as a species too.

Figure 206a

207 Based on the interview, research that explores connecting to nature, particularly in fields like biomimicry, is important for the future. We are moving towards a time where sustainability is extremely important. If we look to nature to solve our design challenges, we will be creating architecture to last in our environment. The other focus group that had similar questions all spoke about the exciting prospect of learning from nature. The ideas of closed systems that give more to the environment than they take away are possible to achieve. There are applications for biomimicry across all scales of design, from engineering, to nanotechnology, to architecture, to urban design. If we apply nature’s principles on all scales, we can start the steps to a sustainable future. The best way to design is with three simple principles: Reconnect, ethos, and emulate. Reconnecting has to do with biophilia and our innate desire to be close to nature. In order to better design and make the connection to nature stronger and more blurred, this must be pushed further. How can we do more in biophilic design to strengthen this link? In all levels of living, there can be ways of reconnecting. More spaces that allow access to nature would also assist with this connection. The second is ethos, which is about giving back. This has to do with sustainability. If we are able to use closed-loop cycles as nature does, then we can give back more to the environment. Less input in terms of energy and materials and less waste output is the ideal being pursued. The built environment should have a symbiotic relationship with nature. In this way, buildings would

become a part of the ecosystem, functioning and contributing just like any individual part of nature. The last one is emulating, which relates directly to biomimicry. By copying nature, the ecological performance can be replicated as it is in nature. Not only this, but the spirit and beauty found in nature can also be copied. This is the final step in created connected natural designs. It is the ultimate way of learning from nature and incorporating it genius in design and its genius loci.





The research culminating in a final built design.



Figure 210a

211 Ideally, this research that explores the close relationship and possible integration of nature and architecture, will culminate in a building that is the epitome of this link. To best represent the metaphor of nature and built form meeting, the chosen site is the Huddle Park Nursery, located on the Northern side of the Linksfield Ridge. This is the perfect way to showcase the meeting of the built environment with landscape, since it is where the city meets the ridge. The building will bring together the principles of organic architecture, phenomenology and critical regionalism to create a rich experience that is deeply rooted in place. The blurred connection to the natural world will be achieved with various natural tools, mimicking nature’s methods of designing space. It will be a biomimetic response that responds to the landscape and becomes a part of it like a living organism. The ambiguity of inside and outside will be thoroughly explored. The project will act as a gateway, providing access to the ridge from the Northern side. This will allow people in the community and in Johannesburg to have access to a beautiful natural resource. The site is beside a nature reserve, making the landscape important to conserve. The ideal program for such a site would not only bring awareness to the importance of connecting to nature, but also bring people together to connect to their spirit and others. The chosen typology for the building is therefore a Botanical Research and Education Centre. There are many schools in the vicinity, making it an ideal location for learning. The building will attempt to learn from nature and maximise its benefits, and the people within will be learning

the same. In this way, it will be ideally suited to its function. It will behave similarly to the botanical gardens in South Africa. The nursery function will remain, allowing people to meander through the natural scenery. The buildings will become interventions that connect people to the site and give them access to the ridge. Its current functionality is growing plants for purchasing, but predominantly for city parks. There are no recreational activities on site, and it is not open to the public. This would alter, allowing people to learn about everything being grown there, as well as allowing them to buy any plants. The massive site is rich in vegetation, and so preserving this as much as possible is a priority in the design. Club Street is the only access road. It becomes 8th street as it heads west, which then intersects with Louis Botha Avenue. It becomes Linksfield Road heading east, which then crosses over the N3. This means that it has the potential to be an important and accessible travel route, since it connects with both sides of the city. The road has a stunning view of the ridge the whole way through, making it a lovely scenic route from east to west. There is very little pedestrian activity on this road, so it would be advantageous to activate this with a public square or park. This is odd, particularly considering that the school kids could be using it more than they do. King David, a Jewish school, lies directly to the west of the site. It offers nursery through high school education. This is part of the reason why having an educational function to the site would be appropriate. It is already an educational part of the suburb, and it will encourage more schools to


“A man should hear a little music, read a little poetr y, and see a fine picture ever y day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.� ~Johann Wolfg ang Von Goethe~

visit the area. Access to some of the ridge homes is also to the west, winding roads taking residents up the steep landscape. It would be great if there was a better connection between all these access points on the ridge, so there is a possibility of creating a proper trail with pockets of entry. To the east is the suburb of St. Andrews, an affluent residential suburb. The strong residential presence surrounding the site would make a community gathering point a perfect intervention. There are very few accessible public spaces in the vicinity, with Huddle Park being closed and built up into apartments. All of the case studies and research on biophilia, the movements that look to nature and finally biomimicry, prove that a natural connection is useful and necessary. They also show the various design strategies taken to achieve genius loci.

In every example, nature is used as the primary inspiration for the design. This shows that many buildings can achieve a spirit of place by connecting to nature. In order to avoid the spread of homogeneity and repetition found in some modern architecture, approaching design by looking at nature first is a good strategy. It is the conceptual approach that the building will use. Inside and outside usually have a clear threshold. In this way, separation from the natural world occurs. For a more thorough and blurred integration, the research will culminate in a responsive building that connects to nature. The edges will be softened and made more arbitrary. The push of architecture into nature or nature into architecture can be even more intense. Nature is wild and without human care and control, it will grow continuously. A harmony with nature may only come from accepting the


Figure 213a uncontrollable nature of the environment. In copying the way nature invades all available space, a blurred combination of nature and architecture can be formed. Rather than separate, the two can coexist seamlessly. In the building’s design, this connection will be done to show the benefits of nature. It will also show the importance of emulating natural systems. If we can draw attention to the environment and its usefulness, we can make people more aware. The awareness of the space around us allows us to connect to our spirit. The goal of this building will be to encourage a deeper connection to nature to inspire conservation as well as a spiritual link. The ultimate goal of this research is to explore and experiment with a more unified relationship with nature. If this connection is able to uplift

the well-being of users, then it is a design strategy that should ideally be applied to future architecture. It is a combination of many styles, taking their principles and the concept of nature as a primary inspiration and adjusting it to fit a new strategy. This one is more aligned with the pursuit of spirit of place through a connection with nature. This is a true connection to site based on careful analysis that exudes the same character of the location in the design. It also wishes to push the boundaries of what enclosure is and how the separation from nature can be almost completely erased.





Examples of architectural projects that are similar to the goal of the research’s final building.



Figure 216a


NAMBA PARKS The first precedent I looked at for this design was Namba Parks in Osaka Japan by the Jerde Partnership. It is a terraced shopping mall that has many outside areas stepping upwards. The combination of built form with nature makes the two seem unified. The two coexist and make the building appear to be a natural urban forest (when in fact the mountainous appearance is fabricated).

and curving through the site. The play of cutting into the site or terracing across it makes the built landscape indistinguishable from the natural one. It is a green paradise in the middle of an urban area, offering a refreshing break from the concrete city. More interventions that encourage people to be in nature are needed, and that is one of the primary functions of the building that I will design.

The research building would ideally move up the slope of the site in this way, organically sitting

Figure 217a

Figure 217b


Figure 218a


The Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in Cape Town is the most beautiful and successful botanical garden in South Africa. It has a wide range of biodiversity and the views and walks make it a must-see tourist destination. The landscape is preserved and people are encouraged to walk and picnic in nature or learn about the environment. It combines an educational function with a recreational one. In this way, people are made aware of the importance of conservation while also appreciating the time spent in beautiful nature.

This is an ideal way to combine function so that people get the most out of the landscape. It is this function that will be replicated in my design, the program similar to this botanical gardens. Since the design will be set in nature, at an edge where city and nature meet, it will be a perfect way to give people access to the natural resource. The educational part allows the importance of nature to be communicated through the design and function. Recreation makes people gather and connect with each other.


Figure 219a


The Cairns Botanic Gardens Visitor’s Centre is located in Australia is a case study that shows what kind of intervention the research hopes to create. Other than being similar to the Kirstenbosch botanical gardens, the visitor’s centre also fits well into its context. The reflective glass makes the landscape seem more endless. There is an apparent blurred edge since one cannot tell where the building ends and nature begins. This is one way to unify with the natural environment, choosing to become a part of the aesthetic.

The curved organic forms and spaces to move beneath and around the building also make it seem like a living organism. It appears to be a twisting, curved part of the landscape that grew out of its place. This is the level of integration that this research seeks. This can be taken even further, with the glass barriers being lowered and nature being directly connected to the spaces designed.


Figure 220a

Figure 220b


Figure 221a

Naples Botanical Garden Visitor Center

The Naples Botanical Garden Visitor Center is designed by Lake|Flato Architects. “As visitors enter through an intimate walkway that meanders through plant life, buildings are scaled as a back-drop to the larger landscape and the program is broken down into a series of smaller buildings so visitors will be continually engaged by the restored natural habitats.� (ArchDaily, 2015)

This building is a useful example to how the sprawl of a botanical garden can be incorporated with a building. In particular, the landscape design of the rest of the gardens is well attuned with the architecture. The natural space is interrupted lightly by paths and buildings, nothing too heavy. This can be used in the later design as a way of being sensitive to the nursery while still making a recreational botanical garden.



This is another design idea that melds into the landscape by copying various aspects of nature. The organic curved forms cut into the landscape and become a part of it, melding seamlessly. The terracing is an element that is broken in some places and repeated in others, also making the building belong in its place. The seeming continuation of contours and disruption is a way of meeting nature’s boundaries. One can either continue the flow of nature or go against it.

emulated in a built example. Nature has hard and soft edges where material and landscape alter, and the way these are approached are subtle, gradual and blurred. This can be designed in architecture using nature as the example. This is exactly the kind of response that the building will hope to achieve.

In either way, the edges found in nature are

Figure 222a


This is an ecological education facility that circles a lake within a Panama rainforest. The same typology of building (an educational response) is being used in this example, making it relevant to the building. The way it settles into the landscape and reaches out into it is something this research is aiming for. Nature invades the space at times, pushing into the interior or popping up as courtyards. To balance this, the building pushes into the landscape, organically and in a natural radial pattern.


The relationship to the waters edge and forest edge is different, taking into account different approaches for different boundaries. It curves and fits into the landscape like a continuation of the water, making it well suited to context. A perfect response to context must make it seem like the building has grown from the landscape.

Figure 223a





The program and business plan done as a viability study. This shows that the project might become a profitable venture if it were ever made a reality.


226 The Nature Park and Botanical Education Centre is a proposed project on the current Huddle Park Nursery site at the foot of the Linksfield Ridge on the northern side. The ridge is protected as the Harvey Municipal Nature Reserve, a beautiful natural resource with limited accessibility. The nursery itself is privatized and acts predominantly as planted space. Ideally, the project will activate the site as well as act as a gateway onto the ridge. There are many schools in the vicinity that would benefit from having an educational destination for the children to learn about environment, conservation, and application of natural knowledge. This will act as the primary function and draw of the site. The secondary function will focus on allowing people access to the natural landscape so that they may benefit from such an environment. This includes a place for people to retreat, relax and connect. There will be small retail functions and restaurants as well as places to meditate, walk or hike. As a way of promoting nature’s benefits, a market that sells agricultural products, flowers and nursery products will help provide to the local community. The last function will be one of study and research, where the study of botany and nature can accelerate. There will be labs and seminar rooms, library and study space. There will be a visitor’s centre that introduces the landscape and acts as gallery space to show some of the advancements and research achieved within the centre.

The project is intended to function as an additional nature park and botanical gardens under the care of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). The three main functions of the project will be split into phases to make it more economically viable. These are education, retail, and retreat. The educational phase takes priority, the retail phase comes after and the retreat phase is last. The project is one that prioritizes protection of the natural environment as well as education and research. Essentially it will be making the site available as a resource to the public and surrounding community. In the interest of protecting the integrity of the project, a private company will be set up to uphold the ideals by being controlled by specific interested organizations. This means that profits from the company can go to the shareholders to further advance each of their interests. In this way, the project will be a hybrid company, since profits made will go to non-profit organizations to further their vision. The company will be called the Linksfield Botanical Research Foundation Pty (Ltd). (LBRF) Since the proportion of shares alters the voting control that each shareholder has, I propose that SANBI (South African National Biodiversity Institute) controls 60% of the shares. They control the botanical gardens in South Africa, and would therefore support the protection and research of the natural landscape. Their vision is: “To champion the exploration, conservation, sustainable

227 use, appreciation and enjoyment of South Africa’s exceptionally rich biodiversity for all people.” This is essentially the primary vision of this project as well, so it will essentially become an additional botanical gardens. Their percentage of the profits can then go towards the botanical program of the project and other botanical gardens in South Africa.

Some shares will be offered to the public during crowd-funding, where interested individuals will be targeted. The primary funding for the project will come from initial capital from the shareholders, proportional to the percentage of shares they own. For the rest of the necessary funds, a loan will be taken out with the bank, paid back over time.

The rest of the shares (40%) would be divided between other selected organizations, namely: the University of the Witwatersrand, the University of Johannesburg and the Biomimicry Institute (BiomimicrySA). The two Universities can use the premises for research purposes for students and staff. Wits has the ‘Department of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences’, UJ has the ​​​​​​​‘ Department of Botany and Plant Biotechnology’, and they would have the most interest in use of the facility. The profits can go towards further study and advancing their educational program.

The project has been split into three building phases in order to make the project economically viable. The site is split into three sections, education, retail, and retreat. These will be the three phases of construction. The first phase will cost R 71 497 982 excl. VAT. SANBI will contribute the largest share of the capital accordingly, followed by the universities and the Biomimicry Institute.

The Biomimicry Institute would be involved for research opportunities in the natural landscape and workshop facilities. “BiomimicrySA inspires, enables and connects biomimics with a focus on learning by doing. We provide biomimicry training, conduct biomimicry scoping & research, provide biomimicry services and initiate biomimicry projects.” Their share of the profit can go towards advancing research, educational outreach and more frequent workshops.

The first phase involves the educational program of the building. Some profit made from this completed development phase will go towards the construction of the next phase. Once the second phase is complete, some of these profits will help advance the third stage. The first phase is the profitable one, since income is greater than expenditure. Phase two and three operate at a loss. This is why it is necessary to prioritize the first phase, since it will subsidies the other two. Phase one has the educational program that the shareholders wish to invest in, therefore it makes sense for them to only have interest in funding the first phase. The initial capital is quite a large investment,



Figure 228a

229 particularly with shareholder companies that don’t have massive budgets, so the bank loan will ease financial strain. It will be paid off using profits once the building is up and running. Each shareholder has their own interest in the project, and their own funding mechanisms. Non-profit companies are able to accept donations, so ideally this is how SANBI will afford to invest in such a project. Part of the initial investment can come from their own budget, but the bulk of the money can come from fund-raising. Once the facility starts to make a profit, their share can go to further developing botanical gardens around South Africa.

potential income are all based on figures from these examples. Botanical gardens and nature parks around the world are also quite successful, with many of them choosing to upgrade and further develop their facilities. My case study example is the Cairn’s Botanic Garden’s Visitor’s Centre. This $4.7M (R63.5M) project was designed as a gateway into the gardens. It is an excellent example of seamless integration with the natural environment. The construction techniques are more modern and relevant to this project. The building is shown in Figure 216a Their program influenced how this project would be designed as well.

BiomimicrySA is also an NPC, and will also have to rely on a fund-raising for the initial capital investment. Thereafter the profit will go towards furthering their vision and research. WITS and UJ both strive for a break-even budget, so they do not make a profit. Most of their funding comes from government subsidies, tuition fees and third stream income. In the case of investing in the facility, they can get research grants or donations, since it will be furthering their research department. Then when the project makes a profit, the universities can put it towards scholarships, other research advancements and general running costs of the university.

These Botanical Centres form an important role in society by teaching the importance of conservation and biodiversity. They are also profitable ventures, and this is why I believe my project is economically viable.

The current Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens, the Pretoria Botanical Gardens and the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens are examples of similar projects that function successfully in South Africa. The program, costs, potential visitor frequency and

The program is split into education, trading, and retreat. EDUCATION: The educational facility is similar in function to the botanical gardens. Tours, workshops, lectures and walks are available services for guests. There are about twenty schools in a 5km radius of the site, justifying the educational program. The Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in Cape Town have a scholar visitor frequency of over 15 500 per year. The site area is 360 000m², while my site is 170 000m². This is about half the size, so I have estimated half the number of scholar attendance. This facility gives the schools a field trip destination closer than


230 the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens and the Pretoria Botanical Gardens. This might increase the willingness of Johannesburg schools to visit and participate, since travel costs are minimal. WITS and UJ are the closest universities, and this proximity would allow them to have research interest in the facility. Students from the university will also have interest in visiting for educational or leisure purposes. There are approximately 33 346 students at WITS and approximately 48 267 students at UJ. Given the total number of students, 81 613, it is fair to estimate an annual usage of 5 000 students minimum. (This is 6% of the total) Given the most recent local sensus, the surrounding community (5km radius) population is approximately 23 147. The use of the facility, however, will most likely expand to a much larger radius. Botanical gardens and centres are particularly popular to tourists, so that visitor population must be taken into account too. For this reason, I have predicted that at least 10% of the community will visit a year (2 500), and the rest will be tourists and other Joburg locals. TRADING: There are restaurants, cafe space, small market stalls, a florist, a nursery and a souvenir shop that cater to guests and the surrounding community. City Parks currently relies on the nursery to purchase trees and plants for parks around the city. This makes upholding the nursery function necessary. The florist can take advantage

of the flowers and plants already being grown on the property and supply locals and visitors with flowers for various occassions. The restaurant will become an ideal gathering place after people have gone on walks or educational tours. It will also potentially become a location where locals can spend time and meet (parents waiting for children, nearby residents, etc). The internet cafe will become a place in proximity to library, targeting students who require internet access, coffee and study space. The market spaces will be rentable to local craftsmen who want to sell their wares. Outdoor markets have become very popular in Johannesburg, so it will become a successful hub where the community can gather. It also encourages entrepreneurship and brings money to the locals. Ideally, some of the market stalls will sell fresh agricultural produce that can be grown on the property. This encourages sustainable, organic food practices within the community. The souvenir shop targets tourists who will visit the facility or the ridge and allows them to purchase items to remember the unique biodiversity. RETREAT: People lead stressful lives, and there aren’t many safe natural places to visit and escape the city. To encourage access to the natural landscape as well as promote wellbeing (body and mind), a retreat function is included with spa and gym facilities as well as meditation areas and yoga studios. This also inclides access onto the ridge for relaxing walks and hikes.

231 A marketing strategy will be put in place in order to set up agreements with nearby schools. This will market the centre as an ideal field trip location. In exchange for an annual membership or fee, the schools can bring in their learners for free tours and seminars. An agreement will need to be set up with Johannesburg City Parks. It will be marketed to them as having primary buying rights to trees and plants grown on the property. These will be specifically for parks around Johannesburg. A marketing specialist with current ties in the community will ideally market the rentable space available in the facility, including the small market rentals, the retail space and the spa facilities. An existing

health organisation such as Virgin Active will ideally rent the spa and wellness space. Local florists and restaurants will be encouraged to rent the retail space, so that the community is empowered. The design of the project cannot be known at the beginning, since various specialists need to be consulted for specific aspects of the project (greenhouses, gallery space, etc). This means that a Design and Manage building contract will work best. There is time to design and construction can begin as soon as possible. There is a two-stage tender, where the project manager is selected first. Thereafter the management contractor puts out tenders for sub-contractors. It will be a selective tender, since ideally the project needs to be

Figure 231a

232 constructed by a company familiar with a botanical program. Experience in any similar project will be a requirement. There will be a contractual agreement between the client and the project manager, who will act as a representative on behalf of the client to oversee the works and make relevant decisions. The project manager will liase with the design consultants and the contractors. Contracts will be signed with various contractors (JBCC PBA). The client will maintain the primary agreement with the architect (PROCSA). The architect will hired for a standard service so that they may manage all details of the design and construction process. This is necessary when dealing with a complicated design. The finances for the professional team will need to come from the initial investment from the shareholders. The client (i.e. the director of the company) will arrange the funding and ensure correct cash flow. The client’s representative, i.e. the project manager, will liase with the professionals on behalf of the client. They will be in charge of the various funding and maintain transparency within the cash flow system. They ensure that investment from each company is put towards the necessary components. They monitor the project costs and update the client accordingly. In this way, the project has strict supervision and should not go over budget. They make decisions regarding the necessity of hiring certain specialists, and delegate the relevant funding to the professionals involved.

During the construction of phase one, there will be no income. Once the phase is initiated, it will start to bring in profit. The income is larger than the expenditure, so these profits can be split accordingly with the shareholders. Part of the profit from phase one will go towards the construction of phase two. Income from these two will fund phase three. In this way, the shareholders don’t have to fund the last two phases. After the third phase is complete, assuming construction for each phase takes a year, the profits should be able to pay back the shareholders after four years. Thereafter the profits can go toward furthering each company’s individual vision. Given the size and scope of the project, there is a necessity for a project manager. They will oversee the construction process and consult with professionals. A project manager that is familiar with environmental sites should be hired to oversee this project. The site is sensitive in terms of protecting certain trees and plants, so that needs to be monitored closely with botanical specialists. Environmental specialists and construction specialists would need to be involved with site excavation. Specialised construction techniques as well as skills transfer will need supervision. The project manager will co-ordinate the contractor and all the sub-contractors involved. They will liase between the client and all of the professionals. They have the authority to make decisions on behalf of the client, so they will work closely with the architect. Prior knowledge of similar

233 projects will allow them to make educated and logical decisions. Together they will oversee construction and manage the various contractors and sub-contractors on site. There are a few skill development initiatives in place. During the construction of the project, there will ideally be unskilled workers involved that can learn specialised building techniques. In particular, since it is a steep site, there will be excavation. This earth can be reused as compressed-earth blocks in construction of the building. It is a fairly simple process, and will empower unskilled workers. Once the building is complete, there will be training facilities for gardening technicians. In this way people can acquire new skills and be hired by the facility or as gardeners around the community. All of these will enable cheaper unskilled labour to assist in the financials of the project. The primary use of the site will be educational and research, as well as leisure. The surrounding schools and nearby universities will use the facilities to encourage learning and advancements in botanical research. Recreational use will be encouraged over the natural landscape. The project will become a gateway onto the ridge and will encourage appreciation of the natural beauty of the ridge. It is intended to activate the community by encouraging people to gather, meet and connect. It will bring money to the various shareholders as well as the local public. In this way it will help to further the visions of all the

companies involved. The site is just off Club Street on the Northern side of the Linksfield Ridge. It is zoned as government property, so would ideally need to be rezoned under Educational to accommodate the new project. The Harvey Municipal Nature Reserve on the ridge offers the opportunity to conserve and research biodiversity. The nursery is ideal for botanical research and nature appreciation. This makes it an idyllic site for a research and educational botanical centre and nature park. INFORMATIVE FACTORS IN DECISION: • Open site allows for ease of construction over the landscape. Very little demolition is required. • The Linksfield Ridge access allows for a new gateway to be created onto the ridge that is more accessible and safe. It encourages a greater appreciation of such a beautiful and under-used natural resource. • Proximity to many schools (around twenty in a 5km radius) means that school children will become frequent visitors, either for leisure or for school outings. • Northern side of the ridge has optimum sun angles. • Ample natural planting and resources are perfect for a botanical centre. • Few retail centres and community gathering areas nearby mean that the community would appreciate a new node


234 of activity. It would offer shopping, eating establishments and relaxation areas. There are residents and school parents that would become primary users in the community. • Distance from closest botanical gardens is large, so it will become more accessible to educational institutions in Johannesburg. The function of the building makes sustainability all the more necessary, since conservation of the environment is part of the purpose. There will be a few strategies in place for sustainability. ENVIRONMENTAL: Seeing how the ridge is at a steep incline, there is an opportunity to collect storm water. The large collection of plants will require a lot of water, so a water collection and recycling initiative will be put in place. This can then be connected to a gravitational sprinkler system that travels down the slope. This will save money in the long run on operational utility costs. Another sustainable strategy will be solar energy collection done with solar panels. The Northern slope of the ridge gets plenty of sunlight, so it is an ideal place to install them. Potentially the facility can run predominantly on solar power and the generator can also run off collected solar power. Solar power is an expensive investment (approximately R11M for this project), but the annual savings on electricity costs are massive. Recycling materials found on site for construction

(compressed earth blocks, natural stone from the ridge, re-used timber) will reduce construction costs. Bringing materials from off-site can be costly and detrimental to the environment, so it is more sustainable to use on-site material. SOCIAL: Skills development and training during the construction phase will empower previously unskilled labourers. Specialists will be in charge of training those interested. During the running of the facility, a training workshop will be available to train garden technicians. Unskilled locals can use this new skill to be hired as gardeners or technicians within the facility. A company like SANBI has a goal to encourage conservation and sustainability, so methods that reduce harm to the environment or maximise natural sustainable materials are in their best interest to encourage. It will be funded as a part of their development scheme to educate and empower the community. ECONOMIC: The open-air community market, the retail space and the spa facilities are all rentable space. Members of the surrounding community will be encouraged to become a part of the project. The market space empowers local craftsmen who have the chance to sell their wares. Local shop owners can choose to locate within the facility by renting out the space, and they will be given preference. The spa facilities will bring in a well known wellness facility that will bring more people into the facility.

235 This will increase the users and therefore the potential income of the locals renting the space. It will also promote the health and well-being of the locals, making them happier and more productive. Given the natural landscape, there is an opportunity to use local materials in the construction of the project. Since the site is on a slope, there will be a lot of excavation done. This means that the soil can be re-used and converted to compressed earth blocks. This technology and the process used will be taught to local unskilled labourers for use in future projects. This is a cheap, easy and useful sustainable technique. The actual pressing makes large blocks which work well for wall construction, which is then a simple bricklaying technique that unskilled locals can be involved in (low risk construction). This in turn will reduce labour and construction costs.

By bringing in interested locals, they can become skilled and empowered in new sustainable building techniques, and these skills can be used in other projects in the area. The contractors will have subcontractors and specialists who are skilled in these various construction methodologies. It will be up to the specialists to do the training. Refer to Annexure B for cash flow figures.

Using natural stone from the ridge is also a possibility and local craftsmen and labourers can learn the best ways to use and recycle the stone. This will encourage other projects built on and around the ridge to use similar building techniques. It will also mean that parts of contstruction such as infill, paving and rough cladding, can be done by these unskilled labourers, saving on labour costs. There are many trees on the site, but some have to be removed for construction space. Recycled timber can be used in many ways, and teaching the labourers ways of recycling and re-using timber can be a useful skill development.






The conceptual journey, starting from the beginning. 1. The main conceptual ideas behind the thesis that lead to a site choice. 2. Site analysis and factors affecting design. 3. Initial concept and progression. 4. Vision for finished design.




Figure 238a


The initial concept revolves around the relationship between nature and architecture, and whatever lies between. The conceptual phrase of being in nature, then in between, and then inside, is therefore used as a starting point for the design. Landscape can shift and blend with the building, becoming built space before returning to the natural landscape. This is shown in the conceptual models here. The idea behind this is a seamless integration into the natural world that functions the same way nature does on the site. If this is achieved, the impact on the site is minimal and positive, no longer causing damage.

Sustainability, function and nature are the three key points in this design, and will act as the foundation of any approach. Above all, the design must be sustainable, in harmony with the environment. It must fulfil its function within the landscape, the design having been morphed and shaped to suit this function best. And lastly it must look to nature for inspiration and design solutions. The character of place can be copied from nature, as can genius biological systems that solve architectural problems.




Figure 239a


chosen site foot of the linksfield ridg e huddle park nurser y


Figure 240a Given the title of the research, a site that has a natural landscape is the best way to demonstrate a connection to the natural world. The chosen site on the Linksfield ridge is symbolic of architecture and nature meeting, since it is where the city meets a mostly unbuilt natural element: the ridge. It functions as a nature reserve, so the natural environment is important and preserved.

The Huddle Park Nursery is one of the few sites that has access to the ridge, since it is bounded by a school and residences. This open piece of land is filled with seedlings, shrubs and trees grown by the city. It is not a public nursery, and the access is restricted. To make it accessible and useful, a botanical gardens that keeps the nursery function and an educational facility beside the school seems appropriate.


edg e conditions

As discussed earlier in the research, the first step in design is to thoroughly analyze the site and all of the factors that will influence the design. This includes the immediate and broader context, the site conditions, the topography, what is existing on the site, and the overall character of the site. The edge conditions are particularly influential since they often dictate the placement, program and orientation of the project.

The edges to the North, South, West and East are explored above, and the design possibilities they create are discussed. This drawing will be repeated later, but with an indication of how all this analysis resulted in the final design. The light from each side, the air flow, the views, rainwater, access, movement of people, noise, function of neighbouring buildings and access to the ridge are all shown.


scientific reasoning

This is the scientific analysis of site. It is about what can be taken directly from the site and be translated into a design necessity. These are the physical and surrounding aspects of site. They give the design clear constraints that must be adhered to. Combined with the program requirements, the brief for the project can be formed. These are: Immediate surroundings Broader context Main accessibility Orientation Scaling

Topography Climate Existing borders and axes Existing objects on site These are all explored in detail through maps, plans, sections, models, sketches and analysis. They set out a beginning to the design approach that makes the site program, placement and form practical.

romantic reasoning This is a romantic analysis of site. It is an exploration of the character and emotions held within a site. The features on site that will influence the aesthetic and how the building links to the landscape are studied and interpreted. In particular, this reasoning is the approach taken in organic architecture, phenomenology and critical regionalism. These aspects were mentioned earlier in the research. They are: Light Materiality Texture Movement

Organic forms Invading plants Planting in building Transparency and reflection Volume and shape Taking advantage of natural surroundings Photographs, sketches, scientific site analysis and the feel of being on the site can be examined to determine how these aspects can translate to design. The overall impression of a site is to be condensed into built form.

broad context



This is more than the physical surroundings, it includes the economic, social, cultural, and political. This project is set in Johannesburg, South Africa, in one of the Northern suburbs known as Linksfield. This suburban area is home mostly to residential and educational functions. However, the proximity to main roads make the area accessible from most points in Johannesburg. The suburb is fairly affluent, middle to high class living being the predominant range. The proximity to Louis Botha avenue and the highway give a greater range of accessibility to those with a lower economic standing. In general, the surrounding public will be able to afford and enjoy a visit to the botanical gardens. Ideally, more people from further away will take advantage of the setting that is being made accessible to the public.

The site is beside the Linksfield ridge, a nature reserve with a beautiful array of biodiversity. The main people a project built here would attract are students, researchers, scholars and nature lovers. Given the schools in the area, the social dynamic of having school children spend afternoons or weekends here is quite likely. The political climate in Johannesburg, particularly for a government owned site, would likely oppose opening the land to the public. However, given the possible revenue that can be collected, as well as the tourist reputation such a place could achieve, it will be a beneficial venture. There are not many places that prioritize the study of the natural world in order to better design, so a centre like this is unique in this context.



Figure 244a


The Linksfield ridge stretches across Johannesburg and the Huddle Park Nursery meets it on the Northern side, offering the opportunity for a new gateway onto the nature reserve. Giloolys is on the opposite side, giving access from the south. Given the drastic differences in biodiversity, climate and views, it seems appropriate to take a central accessible point on the ridge and make it officially accessible from both sides. This will encourage a journey across the site where people

have the opportunity to learn about nature and its various benefits. The current nursery function will remain and become public so that others may have access to the trees and plants that are grown on the site. The site will be used for nature education purposes, acting as a new botanical gardens in Johannesburg.


Figure 245a


The Johannesburg Botanical gardens are located in Emmarentia. The Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens are near Krugersdorp. The Pretoria Botanical Gardens are located in Pretoria. The biggest and most popular botanical gardens in South Africa are the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in Cape Town. These are all scattered across the city, and there aren’t any botanical gardens near the Linksfield Ridge. This gives the people in this part of Johannesburg, particularly the students, an

opportunity to have access to a closer botanical gardens. The addition of another botanical gardens project that has more educational facilities and gives people access to a beautiful natural resource would be useful. This will especially be a great way to encourage innovation in connecting to nature (and emulating it). A centre that maximizes the natural benefits and brings attention to this is a good intervention for Johannesburg.




Figure 246a


The schools, from left to right, are as follows: Highland’s North Boy’s High school, the Torah Academy Primary and High School, Sacred Heart College, Athlone Girl’s High school, Yeshiva College, Sandringham High school, King David Linksfield, St. Andrew’s School for Girls, Saheti School, St Benedict’s Catholic School for Boys and Edenvale High school.

These are just the schools closest to site, since the roads will allow schools to access from further away. Even so, there are a lot of schools in the vicinity, which is why an educational function would be useful. It can become a field trip destination for the children to learn about nature. It is also accessible to universities like WITS and UJ to use for research and study. This makes students the ideal user group for such a project.




Linksfield Road

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s rn Bypas N3 Easte

Av en


Louis Bo

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8th Stre



et Stre

isulu tina S







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Figure 247a


The North is bounded by Club Street, the main entry onto the site. On the other side of the road, there is the Huddle Golf Course. The road will become the node of activity and access, so this edge is important for bringing people in. The road is connected to Louis Botha Avenue to the West, bringing in people from that side of the city. Club street becomes Linksfield Road to the East where it connects the N3, allowing access from that

side of the city too. In this way, the site is accessible not just to the local community, but to anyone in Johannesburg. This connection to main roads increases the accessibility of such a project and makes the user group far broader than simply the surrounding area. The nature will be available for anyone and the educational reach will be further.





The Nature Park and Botanical Education Centre is a proposed project on the current Huddle Park Nursery site at the foot of the Linksfield Ridge on the northern side. The ridge is protected as the Harvey Municipal Nature Reserve, a beautiful natural resource. The Western edge has King David, the school. This gives the opportunity to connect the campus and the learners to the new education centre. The Eastern edge is largely residential so it becomes a private boundary with a stricter threshold.

The Southern edge has the ridge, and this is the part of the site that needs to be opened up and made accessible. The journey up the terraced site ends here and therefore leads people to this connection. The entirety of the site is steep, the contours spaced like terraces until the ridge, where it becomes very steep. The slope if Northfacing, meaning it gets plenty of sunlight. This will become place that is connected to nature so that it acts like an ecosystem, healing the community and providing for people. The


Figure 248a



building could collect water off the ridge and filter it. It could purify the air and pump out cleaner air than it takes in. It could have local agricultural ventures that provide a source of organic food to the community. It could continue to conserve natural plants and grow trees for Johannesburg City Parks, and beyond that can start to educate people about the importance of conservation. It could collect solar energy to act as an emergency backup for the community.

and achieve many sustainable solutions by doing so. Thereafter, the design can extend out or cut into the landscape. This involves a suspended intervention that does minimal damage, or a building that unifies with the landscape by digging into it and becoming one with it.

The site can take advantage of the steep slope

Figure 249a


Figure 250a


Figure 251a


These concept models start to explore possible forms and massing if the building grew from the landscape. The landscape can be cut into and lifted in places to allow space to form beneath. The contours have the ability to shift and twist slightly in order to create space. By angling one of them, it makes a space below. By pushing one inwards, a space has been cut into the landscape. The site and the building cut across and into each other, landscape becoming floor or ceiling at times. There is a play of moving over and under.

This idea of using the landscape to make the building is one of the best ways to integrate fully with context. The landscape can find continuation over the top of buildings and in this way, stay uninterrupted. The flow of the contours continues when the landscape is pushed inwards, cutting into the site. The extension of built form over the landscape goes against the contours and allows forms to float above the landscape. It emphasizes the direction out towards the view.




The other lines already existing on the site belong to the landscape. A lot of the site has been terraced at fairly regular intervals in order to accommodate nursery function. They are split by the axes and step up towards the ridge. They are existing lines of horizontal movement across the site, representing the feel of contours as well as the contour-like movement over the site. The building will aim to maintain some of the existing lines of movement on the site by pulling these terraces into the design to interrupt the

building, or pulling the building to interrupt the terrace. This place will keep the strong lines on the site and better fit the design to context. It is also an ideal way to build up the built form using terracing. These become flat spaces for rooms and the level difference can separate function.




This building is located in Johannesburg climate. This means that the sun path favours Northfacing buildings. Western afternoon sun is harsh and preferably avoided. Eastern light is good in moderation. Southern light is soft and good for exhibition spaces.

Since sunlight comes in from the north, the shadows cast are toward the south. The trees can be tall in some areas, providing large shadows and interference with this light, and this must be taken into account with the design.

The winds blow up and down the site, but with a steep slope, the best way to maximize ventilation is with lateral air movements and cross-ventilation horizontally over the site.




scaling The site may be vast and have open space for a large intervention, but since this design is focused on sensitivity to spirit of place and the natural environment, a smaller scaled design is more appropriate. A building that fits between the trees and seems to vanish within it is the intention. The fact that there are no major vertical high rises over the site other than some trees means that the ideal height for the project won’t exceed two stories either. By having a lower project on a site with long horizontal contours, it fits better into the landscape and doesn’t make as big of an impact as


a large building would. The building would appear rather to be a natural extension of the existing contours on the site. Since this project has the program of a botanical gardens, the built forms act merely as visitor’s centres, with minimal impact on the biodiversity being maintained and protected.



Access to the site is from the main road, a central gate allowing vehicles and personnel through to the centre of the axis above. There are two parallel roads to this one, both sand roads and less formal. They round at the top, allowing access to the service side of the site. These become the dividing axes of the site and the beginning of a formal structure. They cross the contours, functioning primarily as circulation. They formalize the site and split it into four areas for design.

The central axis is the main circulation, and will be retained so as to cause the least disruption on site. The central area is already home to certain buildings, and is likely a good place for the design. The only issue, however, is that it does not offer an entry and interface with the street-side, since it is too high up. The other two axes will remain as secondary circulation on the site. This will allow worker movement as before.


user entry and parking

worker entry and path

delivery entry and services

tree concentration centre



Figure 258a

Figure 258b


Figure 259a


The first step in emulating nature on this site is to look at what nature does with similar constraints. The axes that go up the site are reminiscent of leaf veins or branches. In nature, a main axis has branches that come off it at angles, flowing down it and becoming smaller branches. This became the first conceptual form contraints. The building will now cascade down the site as naturally as water dripping over a leaf. In order to make circulation the most efficient, these diaginal paths spilling down the slope will direct where

the built form will go. These diaginals fit over the slightly angled contours as well, making them well suited for the site. Even the circular path at the top is reminiscent of a leaf shape. Just as the structure can be followed, it can also be gone against. At times the building will go against the set diaginals and cut back into the site. This interplay of push and pull is how the blurred design between nature and architecture will take place.



Figure 260a


From the leaf axes, a spine was designed over the site to dictate the movement that the users would take. Rather than go directly to the top of a ridge, a meander that is able to climb up the diagonals was chosen. This makes people experience the landscape in its totality. There will be a direct option, but the designed route will be longer. In this way, from the central axis, the path pushes into each section. This meander will be broken up as well. Some of it will be built intervention and other parts will be

nursery function. The splitting of function will allow pauses in the landscape to better connect with nature. Figure 205a and 205b show how the buildings will shift off of the spine, either following the diagonal or jutting against it. The new program has each building split by a gap of planting. This path culminates in the middle of the circle, where a wetland will be constructed on the site. This natural creation will irrigate the site and acts as a gathering place on the site.


Figure 261a

Figure 261b


Figure 262a

Figure 262b


Figure 263a


Figure 206a shows an initial link of open space with a wide curved and meandering path. It resembles the wings of a dragonfly in a way, becoming loops for people to explore before returning back to the centre. Each loop moves through a space that will have a specific function. The layout of the landscape dictates what sort of space it will be. Dense trees become walkways where people can forest-bathe, immersed in the trees. Places where the trees encircle an empty grassy area become gathering places. These can

be studios or meditation areas since they feel more private and enclosed. Tree-line boulevards become areas of movement since people feel compelled to walk along them. Places with terraced vegetation become perfect for vegetables, seedlings, roses, or market functions. They allow a terracing of functionality. These loops will all form important parts of the design, the places where they meet the building structured according to their function.



Figure 264a

Figure 264b



The main built interventions will be at the bottom of the site and at the top. This allows for an entryway onto the site as well as an entryway onto the ridge. The two will be similar in terms of concept, forms repeating in both. Between these becomes the meander. The play of nature and building will be especially blurred as the built space moves in and out of the context. This is how all the space becomes connected. ‘ The existing horizontal terraces as shown in the sketches will be used as interrupting lines

that intersect with the spine and meander of the building.. This allows the original site to still maintain its character. By making one interaction horizontal and the other vertical, this play on following the site and going against it is accentuated. This also allows the built form to be more concentrated, focusing on two areas of connection rather than spreading to far to be appreciated.

Figure 265a



Figure 267a



The central axis is tree lined and used as the primary circulation. This will not be interrupted. The design will then use this as a fulcrum point so that the building is centralized and accessible. This works in terms of a biomimetic response as well. This allows the building to branch off from given points much like a leaf structure. The movement of the branching will either follow the contours, axis or move around the trees when they disrupt the first two.

The best place to put the building is in the location that the existing structure is in, since this will do the least damage and already works on the site. The issue here is having a street interaction closer to the edge that welcomes people onto the site and acts as a gateway. Two buildings will then work best. One as a gateway onto the site and the other as a gateway to nature and the ridge. These are also the best placement to avoid the trees, plants and seedlings that are being kept for the nursery. A soft low response will also be a sensitive response to a horizontal site.





Figure 271a




Figure 273a




The trees end and give way to open planted grass, which has the character of openness. It is ideal for terracing across the site and giving space to move, breathe and the freedom to build.

There are arenas of trees which enclose certain areas like walls, giving the impression of a private room. These give privacy and a sense of security, allowing specific activities to occur within without disturbing the rest of the site. They are ideal for more private space within.


Figure 275a

Figure 275b




One of the types of tree characteristics on the site is scattered random tree growth with scattered light and uneven canopies. The effect is a wild untamed natural environment, made colourful by the different species and leaf colours. The movement becomes more erratic and free-moving (not directed), ideal for exhibition movement around trees or obstacles.

The organised planted tree-lined paths and roads on site have the character of columns. They give structure and linear quality to the space, encouraging movement down the aisles they create. They create canopies that act like building arches overhead. They are perfect for avenues or acting as barriers.


Figure 277a

Figure 277b




Figure 279a


Figure 280a

Figure 280b

281 There are various edges that influence the design on the site based on materiality. Where vegetation becomes pathway, the landscape abruptly ends, the verticals halt and the horizontal dominates. The texture alters, from rough to smooth. All of these factors influence the transition into the space. In most cases, nature is never abrupt or harsh with edges. Even here, plants already move into the road or grow over it. Increasing this blurred threshold is more of what the design will intend to achieve. These changing functions can have more subtle boundaries in terms of changing material, density, texture or movement.

The other edge is where the planting meets the terracing. The grass moves in fluid horizontal lines, stretching across the site and stepping up towards the ridge. The plants are dense and spaced over the site in stretches and patches. This edge is where more circular organic shapes and space meets a directional space. This is how circulation can meet nodes of activity, in similarly designed edges. The planting has a different emotive quality due to the colour, height and density. The open, simple landscape of the grass contrasts this and shows how different functions occur in each space.



Figure 282a

CONCEPTUAL MODELS BUILDINGS IN BETWEEN NATURE OR NATURE IN BETWEEN BUILDINGS These models seek to describe the relationship and contrast between nature and architectural forms. Traditionally, planting and nature is usually added afterwards and designed around a building. This project seeks to explore the opposite, maintaining the environment and fitting the architecture into and around it. Nature can then be preserved and used as a primary design influence. The buildings move around the trees, allowing their growth, and existing terraces push into the building, proving that nature is the dominant force on site.

The question of whether nature should be in between the buildings or buildings between nature is asked here. In terms of looking to context to better create genius loci and sustainability, an approach that prioritises the natural features on site will be chosen. The building will move around the tree and accommodate the planted space. The nursery will stay as it is and the building will fit into the available space.


Figure 283a

Figure 283b



This diagram has highlighted all of the space between trees in order to map out where the building can belong. The empty space is open for architecture to begin, then trees can push through the building, or it winds around them organically. The first concept was to place the buildings across the site in a scattered manner, allowing each open space to have a function to suit its location. This can be seen in Figure 197a. The program is split here into library, gallery, gym, research, studios, nursery and greenhouses. This

far-spread design made circulation very difficult, and made the reach of the program too big. A more specific intervention was decided on after this. Now the empty space represents places where people can pause and perform activities. There will be two main interventions with regards to the built form, and paths will connect the other spaces across the landscape. This movement over the site allows people to experience the beauty of nature and the different parts of the nursery.

Figure 284a



At the bottom of the site, just off Club Street, there open grassy space. Since this is the main public access and the point where the site joins the public realm, there is an opportunity to open up part of the site as a local park to encourage pedestrian activity. The more spacious areas are also perfect for parking areas. Parking would not be a structured concrete space, but rather a flowing one that moves between the trees and gives the people arriving an immersive experience. In this way,

every step of the journey will magnify the natural connection. The other spaces will be split functionally as specific gardens or lawns where activities can take place. For example, a space to do yoga or Thai chi. There are gardens ranging from herb to tropical to sculptural. These will be linked by a network of paths across the site.

Figure 285a


Figure 286a

Figure 286a


Figure 287a

Figure 287a



Figure 289a


Scanned by CamScanner


The site can be landscaped and laid out by studying the edges and conditions as well. In particular, the empty and open spaces are pointed out and linked to the design. This allows for some open lawn spaces where functions like yoga occur. There are tree-lined paths which take people forest-bathing. There are greenhouses and seedlings for the botanical gardens function. There is a nursery and market at the top to bring people in. The wetland sprawls from the top of the ridge down. All the functions link together to create an experience over the site.

Included: Built forms Vegetable garden Parking Greenhouses Park space Orchard Outdoor gym Rose/Scent garden Herbarium Seedlings Yoga lawns Wetland Meditation areas Path onto ridge Sculpture garden Biomes Market Picnic space Nursery Forest Bathing








A study of the character of place through site analysis is explored here. They are sketches of the toolbox aspects that can be studies, with specific relevance to this site. With these in mind, the design forms, appearance, materials and character become clearer. The design elements to be included to truly capture the nature of the genius loci of the site, and create it in the building.

These design decisions are carried through and can be seen later in the final design.


















Figure 302a


The bottom building, consisting of admin, exhibition and research, would stretch across the site, allowing a possible connection to the King David school. The admin and research are the main built forms and the exhibition space is a blurred intervention of nature colliding with architecture. It is not clearly enclosed or necessarily a building, but rather a series of ambiguous space where people can learn about nature. The nursery function that continues across

the site will vary according to specific context. Some areas will become greenhouses, others areas for seedlings or shrubs to grow. There are areas where the continuation of lines or trees or orchards is appropriate. This will give people a wider variety of nature and biodiversity to interact with as they move up the site. As with the initial concept, the trees are a solid point on the design that the building wraps around. The trees become sacred space, either built around or within to preserve nature.


Figure 303a


The site begins where people enter into a green foyer that allows you to go to the administration side or start the exhibition. The trees are a part of the design, built around to maintain them. Nature is also brought inside the building to blur the boundary. The building moves along the lines of the spine, but it also becomes circular organic interventions that move within the site. The exhibition becomes a set of terraces that move along the contours. These are then pushed in and out with varying degrees of closedness or

openness. There is therefore a play on space being enclosed and dense or open and arbitrary. People can continue their journey either through the educational side that looks at all the issues nature can currently be used to solve - or they can start a direct hike up to the ridge. This gives choice to the user and gives the site a multi-functional design where they can use the site for their individual needs.



THE OVAL The design wraps around trees, giving it organic shape for a purpose. The trees invade the interior, blurring the line between inside and outside. The curves become a point that the building radiates from, and this is so that the lines of movement move between the trees. The built extensions follow the terracing of the contours, becoming stepped green terraces that

mimic the landscape around them. The extensions also step to avoid pushing into trees. The oval form continues around to the exhibition space where the horizontals disappear into the landscape, playing with the aspect of building or nature intruding in each other’s space.


THE CIRCLE The organic forms follow the axis analyzed earlier on the site. They also wrap around and avoid trees so as to maintain the site. The horizontal extensions still mimic the horizontal flow of the landscape; however, the parts of the building jutting out have a different function. Going against the contours pushes the building outwards, framing views of the city and taking advantage of the height on the ridge. These pushed out extensions float slightly above the landscape with minimal impact.

The building skips an extension where trees need to be preserved. The structure all pulls towards the centre, creating a meeting and gathering space, much like people used to gather under trees. The structural systems pull here because the rain water is also moved here. This gathering point becomes a meeting and departure point on the ridge, a destination.





The green solutions put into place in the design so as to align the building better with the research.





Wetlands are beneficial to the environment for many reasons. They absorb carbon dioxide, making the air cleaner and less polluted. They act as a giant sponge, collecting rainfall over time and releasing it slowly. This would help with any drought or water shortages in the future. Since they collect water, they also prevent flooding. They also act like sewage treatment plants, filtering pollution, sediment, and chemicals. The wetland breaks down harmful bacteria too. A wetland slows down the water’s momentum, reducing erosion and filtering water. For my particular site, including a wetland will perfectly assist the design. The wetlands in South Africa have been diminished by half which means that there is a greater need for them in the country. Including one here will improve the air and water quality in the

surrounding area. Since the nursery function remains, the plants will need a large amount of water. If a wetland function is included, the site can be watered automatically by a gravity irrigation system. The educational function of the site will ensure that it is looked after, and awareness of wetlands will be increased. The wetland is placed in between the trees and natural vegetation, keeping it undisturbed. The wetland filters rain water at the top of the ridge, as this comes down the slope. After the first building intervention, the wetland alters to allow for grey water filtration as well.


An important aspect of this wetland to keep in mind is what the water is that is being filtered, and what is it being used for? This design aims to collect two types of water. The first is rainwater that comes down the ridge. This is a way to prevent erosion, flooding and in dry seasons, drought. The rainwater can be filtered to irrigation quality, which is all it needs to achieve. Since the planting is so vast, watering can be an issue. The water can also be used to flush toilets, since this water does not have to be drinkable.

The second water type that will be filtered after the wetland passes the first building will be grey water. This requires a slightly different structure, so the secondary wetland will be constructed more carefully. The including of wood chip mulch is necessary for the grey water to be filtered without the aroma escaping or affecting the plants. This water can then be collected and used for irrigation further down the site and flushing toilets in the building at the bottom.

50mm steel shadowline stopping angle bolted to wall and to interior corrugated sheeting 170mm x 20mm recycled timber cladding panels nailed to brick wall with 10mm diameter nails and small expansion gap between each panel

water proof membrane applied to wall 30mm min screed with 5mm tile glue and 20mm tiles to later specification DPM 255mm reinforced concrete slab laid in-situ to engineer's specification compressed earth layer waterproofing layer to enclose wetland system


wetland pump system access point to manufacturer's detail and specification 100mm PVC inlet pipe for purified water collection large diameter gravel laid at an angle to allow fluctuation of water level wood chip mulch for retaining grey water large gravel base with smaller diameter gravel above with wood chip mulch layers before the wetland soil, planted with wetland plants such as cattails and balrushes

The sam mu sm sur The tha toil


There is a hypothesis that the stripes a Zebra possesses have functions other than camouflage. Underneath each white stripe is a sweat gland, and underneath each black stripe is a layer of fat. These each have contrasting temperatures based on how much heat they have absorbed. This then forms a miniature pressure system, causing air flow across their back. This allows their surface temperature to be a lot less than the air. This can be applied to architecture in a similar way. If a building is given “stripes� that alternate between light and dark, a similar phenomenon can be created. The darker stripe will have a layer of insulation to replicate the fat under the black zebra stripe. The lighter stripe will reflect heat either with reflective glass or by having a water system behind it to behave similarly to a sweat gland. The same air flow can then be created across a building to maximize natural ventilation.

In this building, insulated planted walls, glazing and corrugated sheeting with air gaps behind are used to create a flow of air over different temperatures. This is one of the main biomimetic sustainable approaches applied to the building. The idea is taken from Janine Benyus, an expert in biomimicry.

313 metal flashing on ridge

50mm safintra 0,58mm thick AZ150 ZincAl速 corrugated profile roof sheeting bolted to steel angle purlins below 100mm x 160mm steel angle section supporting corrugated sheeting and bolted to steel I-beam rafter below with ISOTHERM insulation in gap waterproof membrane 100mm steel I-beam rafter to engineer's specification

50mm safintra 0,58mm thick AZ150 ZincAl速 corrugated profile roof sheeting to end at plant level below 500mm gap for maintenance and access to wetland water pump system

cavity brick wall to engineer's specification 85mm ISOTHERM wall insulation to be installed by manufacturer

Angled corrugated roof has flowing properties of landscape and is used alongside green roofs. The water is angled towards the centre of the development where there is a catchment into the wetland.

50mm safintra 0,58mm thick AZ150 ZincAl速 corrugated roofpanels sheeting The Zebra air flow wall profile has three to bolted to steelthem. angleThe purlins below adjust temperature between 100mm xpanel 160mm steel light angleand section supporting corrugated reflects remains corrugated and since boltedit to cooler than thesheeting other layers hassteel an I-beam rafter below itwith air gap between andISOTHERM the wall. insulation in gap

50mm safintra 0,58mm thick AZ150 ZincAl速 corrugated profile roof sheeting bolted to steel angle purlins below 100mm x 160mm steel angle section supporting corrugated sheeting and bolted to steel I-beam rafter below with ISOTHERM insulation in gap

waterproof membrane 100mm steel I-beam rafter to engineer's specification

100mm x 50mm steel U-section purlin bolted to I-beam rafter above 50mm corrugated sheeting for interior nailed to steel U-section purlins 50mm steel shadowline stopping angle bolted to wall and to interior corrugated sheeting

100mm x 50mm steel U-section purlin bolted to I-beam rafter above 50mm corrugated sheeting for interior nailed to steel U-section purlins 50mm steel shadowline stopping angle bolted to wall and to interior corrugated sheeting

160x210mm earth panel made with recycled earth material from site excavation and compressed according to manufacturer's specifications and planted with small suitable plants 18mm drip irrigation tubing with emitters every 50mm 160x210mm earth panel made with recycled earth material from site excavation and compressed according to manufacturer's specifications and planted with small suitable plants for indoor usage including herbs

water proof membrane applied to wall 30mm min screed with 5mm tile glue and 20mm tiles to later specification DPM 255mm reinforced concrete slab laid in-situ to engineer's specification compressed earth layer waterproofing layer to enclose wetland system

100mm steel I-beam column above window section with 10mm steel plate bolted to front to act as fascia board

100mm steel I-beam rafter to engineer's specification

steel mounting brackets onto frame system support earth panels and join them to brick wall

170mm x 20mm recycled timber cladding panels nailed to brick wall with 10mm diameter nails and small expansion gap between each panel

metal flashing on ridge

waterproof membrane

The Zebra air flo adjust temperat glass panel allow the space, creat cooler corrugate

The Zebra air flow wall has three panels to adjust temperature between them. The earth panels insulate the wall and give it thermal properties. This wall retains heat within the brickwork despite the cooler layer of air over the plants. These three layers create airflow over the surface. 100mm x 50mm steel U-section purlin bolted to I-beam rafter above 50mm corrugated sheeting for interior nailed to steel U-section purlins 50mm steel shadowline stopping angle bolted to wall and to interior corrugated sheeting aluminium window section bolted to 100mm steel I-beam column above

wetland pump system access point to manufacturer's detail and specification 100mm PVC inlet pipe for purified water collection large diameter gravel laid at an angle to allow fluctuation of water level wood chip mulch for retaining grey water large gravel base with smaller diameter gravel above with wood chip mulch layers before the wetland soil, planted with wetland plants such as cattails and balrushes

plaster layer over brick sill as filler

100mm x 200mm steel gutter system to collect and transport excess water from drip irrigation system above

The wetland that filters rainwater acts the same way as this, except the wood chip mulch is not required. This is to keep the smells of the greywater beneath the surface so that it is separated until filtered. The water is collected in a pump system that irrigates the landscape and flushes the toilets.

zebra str ipes air f low

DPC brick sill installed at angle for rainwater 255mm reinforced concrete slab to engineer's specification 85mm ISOTHERM wall insulation to be installed by manufacturer waterproof membrane wetland water and planting level


eaves The eaves on the northern side of the design extend over the windows with a cantilever. These block harsh summer sun, but still allow the winter sun to filter inside. The rooftops are all at different heights to give the impression of a terraced landscape. This means that some extensions of the roof have to be longer to still protect the interior. The clerestory windows that line the stepped roofs are done with reflective glass. Not only does this extend the feel of the natural surroundings, but it also prevents harsh sunlight from entering the space. These same reflective windows are along most of the Northern edge. They become paneled walls to the east and west, and open to full

windows to the south. This is one of the ways that the building controls passive heating and cooling. The green roofs have planting spill over the sides, and the air quality passing through planting is also already cooler, allowing the air to naturally cool before entering the building. At the same time, the green roof functions as thermal insulation for when the weather is cooler.

Scanned by CamScann

These dual sustainable functions are typical biomimetic responses, since nature is often multi-functional.


315 indigenous planted grass and shrubbery recycled from the site excavation 200mm layer of recycled growing medium collected from the site excavation 200mm layer of small grain sand for aggregate filtration purposes

fabric filter 70mm aeration layer

100mm layer of gravel for larger aggregate filtration purposes

50mm root barrier water retention layer 100mm ISOTHERM thermal insulation to manufacturer's specification waterproofing membrane 30mm minimum screed laid to fall 255mm reinforced concrete slab to engineer's specification mounting brackets onto frame system 160x210mm earth panel 18mm drip irrigation tubing with emitters every 50mm

100mm saint-gobain horizontal roof outlet to be installed by manufacturer

extended brickwork to support planting panels above

75mm diameter PVC drainage pipe to engineer's specification laid to falls with spout at the end

110mm x 85mm steel gutter system

100mm SHS column to engineer's specifications at intervals to support lintel aluminium window

g reen roof The green roof acts as a continuation of the landscape, making the design response a lot softer and better fitted to the site. This greenery is not limited to the roof, and is found in many of the wall panel variations. This is a way of insulating, cooling and maintaining the site aesthetic. In order to support the green roof, cavity walls are used as well as steel columns between changes in wall pattern. The green roof itself is not at an angle, but rather the soils are planted at an angle for the sake of drainage. In this way, a similar effect to the corrugated roofs can be achieved without too complicated adjustments to structure.

angled brick sill 85mm reinforced concrete beam to engineer's specifications for sill support 85mm ISOTHERM wall insulation to be installed by manufacturer

The alternating corrugated and green roofs have similar flowing feels to them and both are representative of the landscape. The 85mm reinforced concrete lintel to engineer's specifications difference in pattern gives its own texture to the building, making it more natural too. 20mm thick 100mm wide recycled timber

panels bolted to wall as cladding In general, the planting on the roof ofbrickthe safintra 0,58mm thick AZ150 ZincAlÂŽ buildings is shrubbery and grasses that were corrugated profile roof sheeting displaced from the site. The nailed soilatitself is also intervals directly to plastered brick wall recycled from excavation. This more than 170mm reinforced concrete slab anything should make the building to to engineer'sappear specification Planted layer above compressed earth be one and the same with the landscape. Waterproof membrane

Reinforced concrete strip foundation to engineer's specification





A Nature Park: Exploring the connection between Nature and Architecture Learning from the mysteries of nature




site plan






























Adventure path



3D overall





Technical details for important aspects of the design.


338 indigenous planted grass and shrubbery recycled from the site excavation 200mm layer of recycled growing medium collected from the site excavation 200mm layer of small grain sand for aggregate filtration purposes

fabric filter 70mm aeration layer

100mm layer of gravel for larger aggregate filtration purposes

50mm root barrier

The purpose of the roof garden is for the aesthetic and continuation of the landscape. In this way, indigenous planting such as grass and shrubs is not displaced, but rather replanted as a roof-scape.

water retention layer 100mm ISOTHERM thermal insulation to manufacturer's specification waterproofing membrane 30mm minimum screed laid to fall 255mm reinforced concrete slab to engineer's specification mounting brackets onto frame system 160x210mm earth panel

100mm saint-gobain horizontal roof outlet to be installed by manufacturer 75mm diameter PVC drainage pipe to engineer's specification laid to falls with spout at the end

The planting spills over the roof and joins the wall plants. Water is drained so that it can filter through the wall plants and join the wetland below.

18mm drip irrigation tubing with emitters every 50mm extended brickwork to support planting panels above 110mm x 85mm steel gutter system

100mm SHS column to engineer's specifications at intervals to support lintel aluminium window angled brick sill 85mm reinforced concrete beam to engineer's specifications for sill support

The window allows light in at different heights so that the sun angle is less harsh, similar to using eaves. The temperature is controlled by strips of different material between the windows

85mm ISOTHERM wall insulation to be installed by manufacturer

85mm reinforced concrete lintel to engineer's specifications

20mm thick 100mm wide recycled timber panels bolted to brick wall as cladding safintra 0,58mm thick AZ150 ZincAlÂŽ corrugated profile roof sheeting nailed at intervals directly to plastered brick wall

The corrugated sheeting is horizontal in order to continue the horizontal panel aesthetic.

170mm reinforced concrete slab to engineer's specification Planted layer above compressed earth Waterproof membrane Reinforced concrete strip foundation to engineer's specification

ho rizontal wall panels


zebra wall

340 metal flashing on ridge

50mm safintra 0,58mm thick AZ150 ZincAlÂŽ corrugated profile roof sheeting bolted to steel angle purlins below 100mm x 160mm steel angle section supporting corrugated sheeting and bolted to steel I-beam rafter below with ISOTHERM insulation in gap waterproof membrane 100mm steel I-beam rafter to engineer's specification

50mm safintra 0,58mm thick AZ150 ZincAlÂŽ corrugated profile roof sheeting to end at plant level below 500mm gap for maintenance and access to wetland water pump system

cavity brick wall to engineer's specification 85mm ISOTHERM wall insulation to be installed by manufacturer

Angled corrugated roof has flowing properties of landscape and is used alongside green roofs. The water is angled towards the centre of the development where there is a catchment into the wetland.

The Zebra air flow wall has three panels to adjust temperature between them. The corrugated panel reflects light and remains cooler than the other layers since it has an air gap between it and the wall.

100mm x 50mm steel U-section purlin bolted to I-beam rafter above 50mm corrugated sheeting for interior nailed to steel U-section purlins 50mm steel shadowline stopping angle bolted to wall and to interior corrugated sheeting 170mm x 20mm recycled timber cladding panels nailed to brick wall with 10mm diameter nails and small expansion gap between each panel

water proof membrane applied to wall 30mm min screed with 5mm tile glue and 20mm tiles to later specification DPM 255mm reinforced concrete slab laid in-situ to engineer's specification compressed earth layer waterproofing layer to enclose wetland system

wetland pump system access point to manufacturer's detail and specification 100mm PVC inlet pipe for purified water collection large diameter gravel laid at an angle to allow fluctuation of water level wood chip mulch for retaining grey water large gravel base with smaller diameter gravel above with wood chip mulch layers before the wetland soil, planted with wetland plants such as cattails and balrushes

The wetland that filters rainwater acts the same way as this, except the wood chip mulch is not required. This is to keep the smells of the greywater beneath the surface so that it is separated until filtered. The water is collected in a pump system that irrigates the landscape and flushes the toilets.

cor r ug ated panel

341 50mm safintra 0,58mm thick AZ150 ZincAlÂŽ corrugated profile roof sheeting bolted to steel angle purlins below 100mm x 160mm steel angle section supporting corrugated sheeting and bolted to steel I-beam rafter below with ISOTHERM insulation in gap waterproof membrane 100mm steel I-beam rafter to engineer's specification

steel mounting brackets onto frame system support earth panels and join them to brick wall

100mm x 50mm steel U-section purlin bolted to I-beam rafter above 50mm corrugated sheeting for interior nailed to steel U-section purlins 50mm steel shadowline stopping angle bolted to wall and to interior corrugated sheeting

160x210mm earth panel made with recycled earth material from site excavation and compressed according to manufacturer's specifications and planted with small suitable plants 18mm drip irrigation tubing with emitters every 50mm 160x210mm earth panel made with recycled earth material from site excavation and compressed according to manufacturer's specifications and planted with small suitable plants for indoor usage including herbs

100mm x 200mm steel gutter system to collect and transport excess water from drip irrigation system above

ear th panel

The Zebra air flow wall has three panels to adjust temperature between them. The earth panels insulate the wall and give it thermal properties. This wall retains heat within the brickwork despite the cooler layer of air over the plants. These three layers create airflow over the surface.

342 50mm safintra 0,58mm thick AZ150 ZincAlÂŽ corrugated profile roof sheeting bolted to steel angle purlins below 100mm x 160mm steel angle section supporting corrugated sheeting and bolted to steel I-beam rafter below with ISOTHERM insulation in gap

metal flashing on ridge 100mm steel I-beam column above window section with 10mm steel plate bolted to front to act as fascia board

waterproof membrane 100mm steel I-beam rafter to engineer's specification The Zebra air flow wall has three panels to adjust temperature between them. The glass panel allows sunlight to penetrate into the space, creating a warm layer beside the cooler corrugated panel.

100mm x 50mm steel U-section purlin bolted to I-beam rafter above 50mm corrugated sheeting for interior nailed to steel U-section purlins 50mm steel shadowline stopping angle bolted to wall and to interior corrugated sheeting aluminium window section bolted to 100mm steel I-beam column above

plaster layer over brick sill as filler DPC brick sill installed at angle for rainwater 255mm reinforced concrete slab to engineer's specification 85mm ISOTHERM wall insulation to be installed by manufacturer waterproof membrane wetland water and planting level

glass panel

343 150mm x 60mm steel gutter skylight 200mm x 150mm steel I-Beam 200mm x 150mm steel I-Beam column welded to I-Beam above according to engineer's specification 200mm x 40mm treated timber slats bolted to timber at an angle

50mm x 200mm timber slat bolted to steel I-beam 200mm x 150mm steel I-Beam at minimum fall for rainwater 100mm x 50mm steel U-Section bolted to steel beam and spaced 500mm apart to support door sliding mechanism

The skylight on the interior is at an angle for rainwater, with timber slats below to adjust the quality of light coming into the space. The timer slats outside do the same at a denser scale.

The outside beam and interior columns support the rolling door system based off a garage door system. This allows the mixed screen door to be automatically rolled up, which opens the space entirely and removes the boundary to the outside.

250mm long alternating door panels of glass and timber affixed to steel rolling door mechanism with an automatic motor 100mm saint-gobain 180° vertical roof outlet with centre bolt to be installed by manufacturer 250mm x 40mm timber panel fixed to 25mm SHS with adjustable

170mm reinforced concrete slab to engineer's specification to be water proofed and dropped to a minimum depth of 1500mm for tree growth waterproof membrane with insulation layer with root barrier with aeration layer with large aggregate and small aggregate layers followed by engineered soil for planting purposes The soil depth allows for tree growth outside, which are trees that are preserved on the site. The interior trees mirror the exterior trees and have sufficient planting space in planter boxes spaces between the paths and openings.

rolling screen door


water friendly plants with filtration properties 200mm layer of recycled growing medium collected from the site excavation 200mm layer of small grain sand for aggregate filtration purposes 100mm layer of gravel for larger aggregate filtration purposes 20mm thick mesh grid to prevent large gravel from slipping through, but allows water into next chamber below

layers of plaster with waterproofing and ISOTHERM insulation and drainage fabric and an aeration layer

waterproofed water collection area with outlet pipe that leads to water tank collection

JOJO water tank to installer specification 75mm PVC outlet pipe into water collection tank reinforced stepped concrete slab to engineer's specification

wetland applied to wall


in-out cafe experience



bathroom view experience



diagrams and models




Figure 350a


The site model shows the steepness of the site, as well as the numerous trees. The nursery is densely vegetated, making it an immersive natural experience to build here. The contours also provide an interesting constraint, helping to formulate more interesting designs. The model was built to be adjustable, the contours held in place by dowels so as to allow adjustments to landscape design. The edges of the site that will remain the same were fixed into place. The site is also split into

sections in order to accommodate the nodelike design. There will be an intervention at the bottom of the site to introduce people and educate them. There will be a second intervention at the top to take people onto the ridge. These will be connected by various pathways and landscaping, the trees and nursery function remaining intact throughout most of the site.


Figure 351a

Figure 351b


Figure 352a

Figure 352b


Figure 353a

Figure 353b


Figure 354a

Figure 354b



The oval building is the intervention at the bottom of the site, as seen in Figure 355a to 357b. It is the entrance onto the site. It contains functions that welcome the visitor as well as general administration program. This building becomes the exhibition space which spreads over the site. The building wraps around trees on the central axis and branches off this point. The paths that extend into the exhibition on one side and into the building on the other go between these trees.

The circle building seen from Figure 352a to 354b is at the top of the site, nestled within the trees and edged by the constructed wetland. It wraps around the natural curve of the site as the road did so before. The rounded forms are also to wrap better around the trees. The building is stepped like the landscape with alternating roofscapes. Both buildings spread in a radial pattern from the central axis, following the lines of the contours. This building becomes the link to the ridge, with some educational and recreational functions.

Figure 355a


Figure 356a

Figure 356b


Figure 357a

Figure 357b





The design applied to other social and economic scenarios.


SOCIO-ECONOMIC RDP EXAMPLE The final design puts forward many ideas that exceed budget in smaller scale projects. This chapter will explore the main sustainable aspects achieved in the final design and scale them down appropriately. The biophilic, biomimetic solutions attempt to create sustainability and a link to place at the same time. These elements can be achieved in any example, and it can be done cheaply and efficiently too. Genius loci is not only for high budget projects. Renewable energy, recycled materials, passive heating, cooling and ventilation, planting indoors, cleaning pollution and daylighting are all achievable in ways that mimic natural systems.

The sketch below shows how a simple building orientation can be designed efficiently. RDP houses are already subsidized to get solar panels, and solar ivy is another option that allows for more versatility. It also allows planting. Having recycled insulation and wetland wall properties can create a thermal wall. The wetland wall can even be recreated with bottles. Having windows and eaves or planting in front of windows can control daylighting. Vegetable gardens or bottle planters with herbs can make natural planting more useful. The zebra wall technique can even be created with glass panels and solar ivy panels with real ivy in between to insulate.









Important resources and their relevance to the research.


368 THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF TOMORROW: ARCHITECTURE & THE SPIRIT OF PLACE Travis Price This book talks mostly about genius loci or ‘Spirit of Place’. In particular, he writes about how modern architecture has resulted in repetitive, homogeneous designs that lack a feeling of place. He then shows how his own designs have attempted to create that feeling by applying his principles of design. In connection to the thesis, it favours designs that link strongly to nature in order to better create genius loci. The research is attempting to show that this connection helps create it in any building. PLACES OF THE SOUL Christopher Day His book talks about the multi-sensory experience of being in architecture, and how architects can choose what emotions to evoke by designing in specific ways. He believes buildings are intrinsic to the environment and should be designed accordingly, which is what this research is pursuing. He says that sustainable design must be more than green methods, but rather architecture that sustains the soul too.

SPIRIT & PLACE Christopher Day This discusses how the built environment is a big part of our life, and therefore it will affect us, whether we want it to or not. If space can affect us, then it is up to architects to design how we are affected. It is possible to nourish people on all

levels, physically, psychologically and spiritually. Design that fits harmoniously into context will have a spirit of place. This can be done with social, historical, physical and cultural context. This is applicable in designing in a natural environment in order to best integrate with the character of place. BIOMIMICRY IN ARCHITECTURE Michael Pawlyn Pawlyn talks about learning from the genius of nature in order to innovate and design for the future. A truly sustainable architecture that functions as nature does is achievable through biomimicry. This design approach is what the thesis seeks to achieve, one that looks to nature before coming up to solutions for architectural problems. It is an approach that relies on nature to make better architecture. EVOLUTIONARY ARCHITECTURE: NATURE AS A BASIS FOR DESIGN Eugene Tsui Evolutionary architecture is about biomimicry. It is about examining natures forms, structures, materials, underlying principles, materiality, function, etc and emulating these in buildings. This can be done through aesthetic, construction or function (such as passive heating or cooling). The strategy states that nature has evolved to make some of the best structures and designs known to man, so we only need to learn from it. Nature has been a source of inspiration for many designs already. In this way, nature becomes vital to architecture that evolves to suit the changing environment.

369 TOWARDS AN ORGANIC ARCHITECTURE Bruno Zevi This book talks about the organic architecture movement and how it relates closely to the natural environment. It refers to the principles of the style and how using natural elements in design can better integrate a building into context. Various architects who successfully design this way are examined. This applies to the design since organic architecture principles are going to be applied and altered to have a more unified natural building. FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT Donald Hoffmann This book is focused solely on the architect who coined the term, organic architecture. All of his projects are a part of this style and clearly show an integration with the natural environment. These case studies are excellent examples to learn from in terms of borrowing aspects of nature. This works well for the thesis, using the same concept to design a building that has similar design features to nature. GENIUS LOCI: TOWARDS A PHENOMENOLOGY OF ARCHITECTURE Christian Norberg-Schulz In order to create genius loci in architecture, he explores a phenomenological approach. This takes the human sensory experience as the primary driving force for the design. Everything is designed in order to create this experience. Phenomenology began in nature, using naturally occurring phenomena in order to get certain

responses from people. These phenomena are created in architecture by playing with natural elements, such as light, material, texture, etc. A building that delights the senses and creates genius loci is therefore one that has close ties to nature. This is another movement where the case studies and principles can be applied and altered in order to create a new type of design (one that is even more blurred). The creation of enclosure to separate from nature is architecture, but this threshold does not have to be as solid as it is traditionally. This line between inside and outside can be more arbitrary.





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384 Figure 71a: Green building council, (2017), About Green Building [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 12 February 2018]. Figure 75a: Reiach and Hall/Maggie’s Centres, (2015), Maggie’s Centre Lanarkshire [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 24 September 2017]. Figure 76d: Iwan Baan, (2007), Selgas Cano office [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www. [Accessed 27 August 2017]. Figure 78c: Paolo Rosselli, (2014), Bosco Verticale [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www. [Accessed 27 August 2017]. Figure 81a: Hiroyuki Oki, (2016), Symbiosis / Cong Sinh Architects [ONLINE]. Available at: 0b-symbiosis-cong-sinh-architects-photo [Accessed 11 August 2017]. Figure 83a: Unknown, (2010), Khoo Teck Puat Hospital [ONLINE]. Available at: https:// [Accessed 27 August 2017]. Figure 85b: Grimshaw, (2015), The Eden Project [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www. [Accessed 24 June 2017]. Figure 88a: Unknown, (2015), A Talent With Boxwood [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www. [Accessed 30 September 2017]. Figure 88b: Unknown, (2015), Beautiful [ONLINE]. Available at: com/108680391940950414351 [Accessed 30 September 2017]. Figure 89a: Heinrich Helfenstein, (2010), Erlenbach House [ONLINE]. Available at: http:// [Accessed 30 September 2017]. Figure 90a: Josh Davis, (2012), Veracruz 60 Apartment by JSa Architecture [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 30 July 2017]. Figure 90b: Nancy White, (2011), Thinking Inside a Box [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www. [Accessed 30 September 2017]. Figure 90c: Unknown, (2017), 85 Ways to Make Your Patio or Outdoor Space Look Incredible [ONLINE]. Available at: g853/outdoor-room-design-ideas/ [Accessed 30 September 2017]. Figure 90d: CWB Architects, (2017), About [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www. [Accessed 30 September 2017]. Figure 91a: NBBJ, (2012), Massachusetts General Hospital - The Lunder Building; Boston /

385 NBBJ [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 30 September 2017]. Figure 91b: Kekilla, (2015), Glassy and cozy house for the rest! [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 30 September 2017]. Figure 92a:, (2017), 17 Amazing Inspirational Ways Mankind Shows Respect to the Mother Nature [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 30 September 2017]. Figure 93a: Carlos Díaz Corona, (2016), Casa Veintiuno / Hernández Silva Arquitectos [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 30 September 2017]. Figure 94a: Nicole & Fleur, (2014), In the shadow [ONLINE]. Available at: https://www. [Accessed 30 September 2017]. Figure 94b: JUAN SOLANO OJASIValentina Ieva, (2012), Zentro Office Building and Commercial [ONLINE]. Available at: gallery?514217 [Accessed 30 September 2017]. Figure 95a: Paletadelimon, (2009), Yes to green roofs [ONLINE]. Available at: https:// [Accessed 30 September 2017]. Figure 95b: Matt Shaw, (2015), New green roof law of France and the future of urban design [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 30 September 2017]. Figure 95c: Biotecture Ltd, (2017), New Street Square, London [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 30 September 2017]. Figure 95d: Melina Divani, (2017), Contemporary Cottage by Ilan Pivko [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 30 September 2017]. Figure 98a: Gerd Ludwig, (2016), Institute [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www.snpcultura. org/a_longa_sombra_de_chernobyl.html [Accessed 26 September 2017]. Figure 99a: Sean Gallup, (2015), Chernobyl, 30 Years Later [ONLINE]. Available at: http:// [Accessed 27 September 2017]. Figure 100a: Marius Troy, (2017), Location Lust #2: Secret Garden Edition [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 16 September 2017]. Figure 101a: Walter White, (2016), Photos you never saw of Chernobyl [ONLINE]. Available at: html [Accessed 25 September 2017]. Figure 104a: Eugene Kim, (2010), Incredible Addition to Miami’s Design District [ONLINE].

386 Available at: [Accessed 9 September 2017]. Figure 105b: Bridgette Meinhold, (2011), Solar ivy update [ONLINE]. Available at: https:// solar-ivy-update-12 [Accessed 10 February 2018]. Figure 105c: Bridgette Meinhold, (2011), Solar Ivy Building-Integrated Modular Photovoltaic System Grows Bigger & Better [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 10 February 2018]. Figure 106a: Iwan Baan, (2010), Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre / Peter Rich Architects [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 9 September 2017]. Figure 108a: NACASA & Partners Inc., (2012), Optical Glass House [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 19 September 2017]. Figure 110a: Oki Hiroyuki, (2015), Naman Spa MIA Design Studio [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 19 September 2017]. Figure 112a: Dirk Topel Kommunikation, (2004), Langen Foundation [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 20 September 2017]. Figure 114a: Stefani Fachini, Bruce Buck, Jake Brillhart, (2015), An Architect’s Own Tropical Refuge In Miami [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 20 September 2017]. Figure 116a: Hiroyuki Oki, (2012), Stacking green / VTN Architects [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 19 September 2017]. Figure 118a: Unkown, (2014), The freeway algae farm [ONLINE]. Available at: http:// [Accessed 20 September 2017]. Figure 123a: Clara Luiza, (2013), Architecture Classics: Taliesin West / Frank Lloyd Wright | ArchDaily [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 12 August 2017]. Figure 125a: SOLOMON R. GUGGENHEIM FOUNDATION, (2008), Hollywood Comes to the Guggenheim [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 12 August 2017]. Figure 126a: PPG, (2015), 25th anniversary of STARPHIRE glass traces history, heritage to Fallingwater [ONLINE]. Available at: Newsroom/2015/25th-anniversary-of-STARPHIRE-glass-traces-history [Accessed 13 August

387 2017]. Figure 129a: Kotaro Ide, (2008), Shell / ARTechnic architects [ONLINE]. Available at: http:// [Accessed 19 June 2017]. Figure 133a: Steyn Studio, (2017), Bosjes Chapel [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www. [Accessed 18 June 2017]. Figure 141a: Samuel Ludwig, (2011), Bruder Klaus Field Chapel [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 8 September 2017]. Figure 143a: 7132, (1996), Thermal Baths and Spa [ONLINE]. Available at: http://7132. com/media/42860/therme_slide_therme-spa-graubunden-vals_02.jpg [Accessed 1 September 2017]. Figure 144d: Jose Fernando Vazquez, (2010), Kolumba Museum / Peter Zumthor [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 18 September 2017]. Figure 147b: Iwan Baan, (2012), Daeyang Gallery and House / Steven Holl Architects [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 18 September 2017]. Figure 149a: Cyrus Penarroyo, (2010), AD Classics: Jewish Museum, Berlin / Studio Libeskind [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 18 September 2017]. Figure 153a: Antje Verena, (2011), AD Classics: Church of the Light / Tadao Ando Architect & Associates [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 27 August 2017]. Figure 155a: Alvar Aalto, (2016), Tsalo Town Hall [ONLINE]. Available at: alvar-aalto-house-interior/ [Accessed 17 September 2017]. Figure 156a: Carl Martin, (2016), Benesse House Museum / Tadao Ando [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 10 September 2017]. Figure 158a: 663highland, (2015), English: Benesse House “Oval� [ONLINE]. Available at: Naoshima_Kagawa_pref_Japan01s3.jpg [Accessed 11 September 2017]. Figure 160a: Miguel de Guzman, (2013), The Academie MWD [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 6 August 2017]. Figure 168a: ICD/ITKE university of stuttgart, (2013), interview with ICD/ITKE team on fiber-woven research pavilion[ONLINE]. Available at: architecture/icd-itke-research-pavilion-2013-14-interview-08-18-2014/ [Accessed 5 February 2018]. Figure 175a: BiomimicrySA, (2017), Biomimicry Thinking [ONLINE]. Available at: https://

388 [Accessed 21 May 2017]. Figure 176a: Wang Wen-Chih, (2012), Sanctuary [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www.tfam. museum/Exhibition/Exhibition_page.aspx?id=623&ddlLang=en-us [Accessed 10 September 2017]. Figure 179a: Tim Griffith, (2008), California Academy of Sciences / Renzo Piano Building Workshop [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 31 August 2017]. Figure 180a: End User, (2017), Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Johnson Wax offices as a forest open to the sky [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 17 September 2017]. Figure 182a: Vincent Callebaut, (2013), Swallows Nest [ONLINE]. Available at: https:// [Accessed 3 September 2017]. Figure 182b: Vincent Callebaut Architectures, (2013), Mobius Strip Building Brings Loops And Bling To Taiwan [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 3 September 2017]. Figure 185a: Bill Dunson, (2014), An adult female barn swallow on her nest [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 29 January 2018]. Figure 187a: Turner and Soar, (2008), Mounds [ONLINE]. Available at: https://biomimicron. [Accessed 3 February 2018]. Figure 187b: G.Z. Brown and Mark DeKay, (2017), Chimneys / atria with vents at top and bottom [ONLINE]. Available at: stack-ventilation-and-bernoullis-principle [Accessed 10 February 2018]. Figure 187c: 3 User, (2017), Eastgate Mall Floor Plan [ONLINE]. Available at: http:// [Accessed 10 September 2017]. Figure 187d: Mick Pearce & Arup Associates, (2006), Eastgate Shopping Mall [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 5 August 2017]. Figure 189a: carlosfiorentino, (2015), Message to COP21 leaders: Need solutions? Ask nature. – Biomimicry Institute[ONLINE]. Available at: message-to-cop21-leaders-need-solutions-ask-nature-biomimicry-institute/ [Accessed 29 January 2018]. Figure 189c: Architects of Invention, (2016), Architects of Invention’s Coral Holiday Apartments Design Utilizes Biomimicry to Resemble Coral in Seychelles [ONLINE]. Available at:

389 biomimicry-to-resemble-coral-in-seychelles [Accessed 20 August 2017]. Figure 189d: Architects of Invention, (2016), Architects of Invention’s Coral Holiday Apartments Design Utilizes Biomimicry to Resemble Coral in Seychelles 2 [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 20 August 2017]. Figure 191a: Mark Mitchell, (2015), Fibonacci numbers spiral [ONLINE]. Available at: https:// [Accessed 29 January 2018]. Figure 191b: Florian Elias Rieser, (2008), Section cut of a nautilus shell [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 28 January 2018]. Figure 191c: Robert Oshatz, (2005), Fennell Residence 1 [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www. [Accessed 2 July 2017]. Figure 191d: Robert Oshatz, (2005), Fennell Residence 5 [ONLINE]. Available at: http:// [Accessed 2 July 2017]. Figure 193b: Ian Clare, (2018), Crazed Bowl [ONLINE]. Available at: https://www. [Accessed 28 January 2018]. Figure 193c: Francisco Diez, (2009), Beijing’s National Stadium “Bird’s Nest” [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 2 September 2017]. Figure 193d: WiNG, (2008), Beijing National Stadium Interior [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 2 September 2017]. Figure 196a: BiomimicrySA, (2017), Life’s Principles [ONLINE]. Available at: https://www. [Accessed 21 May 2017]. Figure 199a: Janine Benyus, (2013), 9 basic principles of biomimicry [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 7 January 2018]. Figure 201a: Biomimicry Institute, (2018), Web Banner [ONLINE]. Available at: https:// [Accessed 6 January 2018]. Figure 204a: KCETLink, (2017), Biomimicry [ONLINE]. Available at: shows/this-planet/episodes/biomimicry [Accessed 12 August 2017]. Figure 210a: Unknown, (2017), Nature [ONLINE]. Available at: http://lasfotosmasalucinantes. [Accessed 16 April 2017]. Figure 213a: Unknown, (2017), Nisan da bitti be [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www. [Accessed 13 May 2017]. Figure 216a: Unknown, (2009), Namba Parks [ONLINE]. Available at: pic/p-121360847/ [Accessed 24 April 2017]. Figure 217b: The Jerde Partnership, (2009), Namba Parks / The Jerde Partnership [ONLINE].

390 Available at: [Accessed 13 May 2017]. Figure 218a: Carmichael Guesthouse, (2017), Out and About - Attractions in Cape Town [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 16 June 2017]. Figure 219a: Charles Wright Architects, (2011), Cairns Botanic Gardens Visitors Centre [ONLINE]. Available at: 8ad263739101e3256fa2afcc87530a.jpg [Accessed 18 July 2017]. Figure 220a: Lake|Flato Architects, (2015), Floor Plan [ONLINE]. Available at: https://www. [Accessed 10 December 2017]. Figure 220b: Lake|Flato Architects, (2015), Master Plan [ONLINE]. Available at: https:// [Accessed 10 December 2017]. Figure 221a: Lara Swimmer, (2015), Naples Botanical Garden Visitor Center / Lake|Flato Architects [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 10 December 2017]. Figure 222a: Ale Rambar, (2013), Architectural Model [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 17 September 2017]. Figure 223a: Louise Bjørnskov Schmidt, (2016), Louise Bjørnskov Schmidt designs rainforest complex to promote eco awareness in Panama [ONLINE]. Available at: https://www.dezeen. com/2016/07/03/louise-bjornskov-schmidt-bartlett-graduate-project-rainforest-walkwaypanama-city-ecological-awareness/ [Accessed 23 September 2017]. Figure 228a: Patrick Bingham Hall, (2012), Cairns Botanic Gardens Visitors Centre / Charles Wright Architects [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 6 May 2017]. Figure 231a: CORNELIA KONRADS, (2015), PASSAGE [ONLINE]. Available at: http:// [Accessed 10 June 2017]. Figure 239a: Vjeko Sager, (2008), Antimatter 2 [ONLINE]. Available at: http://cargocollective. com/vjekosager/Antimatter [Accessed 29 April 2017]. Figure 258a: Unknown, (2017), In Defense of Plants [ONLINE]. Available at: https://www. 1495499103924 [Accessed 10 September 2017]. All other Figures are sketches produced by Abigail Janisch, author of this research report.






A: Ethic’s forms B: Money flow and profit for feasibility study C: Questionnaire




Quantity PHASE 1 Administration Director's office Manager's office Curator office Ticket office Researcher offices Staff offices Open plan office Security office Reception area Board rooms Conference Centre

Singular Area

1 1 1 1 10 8 1 1 2 3 1

Cost per m²


15 15 15 15 9 9 80 20 20 30 150

15 15 15 15 90 72 80 20 40 90 150

Total Cost

R 9 000 R 9 000 R 6 900 R 6 900 R 6 900 R 6 900 R 8 500 R 9 000 R 6 900 R 6 900 R 8 500

Section Cost

R 135 000 R 135 000 R 103 500 R 103 500 R 621 000 R 496 800 R 680 000 R 180 000 R 276 000 R 621 000 R 1 275 000 R 4 626 800

Education Seminar rooms Workshop space Auditorium Library Classrooms Research Labs Open plan lab space

3 3 1 1 5 10 1

50 50 300 100 65 25 100

150 150 300 100 325 250 100

R 7 200 R 7 200 R 13 400 R 7 200 R 7 200 R 7 200 R 7 200

R 1 080 000 R 1 080 000 R 4 020 000 R 720 000 R 2 340 000 R 1 800 000 R 720 000 R 11 760 000

Botanical Gallery presentation space Greenhouses Visitor's centre Herbarium

1 10 1 1

1500 100 1000 200

1500 1000 1000 200

R 12 000 R 3 500 R 12 000 R 2 500

R 18 000 000 R 3 500 000 R 12 000 000 R 500 000 R 34 000 000

Residential In-house caretaker




R 8 800

R 528 000 R 528 000

Parking Education centre parking




R 500

R 250 000 R 250 000

Services Toilets Fire equipment Water treatment Delivery zone Storerooms HT room LT room Generator room

5 1 1 1 5 1 1 1

30 30 50 50 25 20 20 20

150 30 50 50 125 20 20 20

R 4 500 R 3 000 R 10 000 R 1 900 R 1 500 R 1 500 R 1 500 R 1 500

R 675 000 R 90 000 R 500 000 R 95 000 R 187 500 R 30 000 R 30 000 R 30 000 R 1 637 500

TOTAL COST OF PHASE PHASE 2 Retail Restaurant Florist Market space Nursery shop Souvenir shop Coffee Shop

1 1 25 1 1 1

200 50 15 200 50 100



200 50 375 200 50 100

R 6 800 R 6 800 R 6 800 R 6 800 R 6 800 R 6 800

R 52 802 300

R 1 360 000 R 340 000 R 2 550 000 R 1 360 000 R 340 000 R 680 000 R 6 630 000

Services Toilets Fire equipment Delivery zone HT room

3 1 1 1

30 30 25 20

90 30 25 20

R 4 500 R 3 000 R 1 900 R 1 500

R 405 000 R 90 000 R 47 500 R 30 000


Restaurant Florist Market space Nursery shop Souvenir shop Coffee Shop


1 1 25 1 1 1

200 50 15 200 50 100

200 50 375 200 50 100

R 6 800 R 6 800 R 6 800 R 6 800 R 6 800 R 6 800

R 1 360 000 R 340 000 R 2 550 000 R 1 360 000 R 340 000 R 680 000 R 6 630 000

Services Toilets Fire equipment Delivery zone HT room LT room Generator room

3 1 1 1 1 1

30 30 25 20 20 20

90 30 25 20 20 20

R 4 500 R 3 000 R 1 900 R 1 500 R 1 500 R 1 500

R 405 000 R 90 000 R 47 500 R 30 000 R 30 000 R 30 000 R 632 500

TOTAL COST OF PHASE PHASE 3 Retreat Meditation rooms Studios Spa facilities Reception area Information Centre Ridge

5 5 1 1 1

15 15 1000 20 50



75 75 1000 20 50

R 2 500 R 2 500 R 5 400 R 5 400 R 12 000

R 7 262 500

R 187 500 R 187 500 R 5 400 000 R 108 000 R 600 000 R 6 483 000

Parking Retreat Centre parking




R 500

R 250 000 R 250 000

Services Toilets Fire equipment Delivery zone HT room LT room Generator room

2 1 1 1 1 1

30 30 25 20 20 20

60 30 25 20 20 20

R 4 500 R 3 000 R 1 900 R 1 500 R 1 500 R 1 500

R 270 000 R 90 000 R 47 500 R 30 000 R 30 000 R 30 000 R 497 500



R 7 230 500


R 67 295 300


Initial Investment Phase One Project Solar Panels Professional Salaries Total Capital Source Shareholder Capital SANBI WITS UJ BiomimicrySA Crowd-funding Bank Loan Interest over 5 years Annual Repayment Monthly Repayment

R 52 802 300 R 11 000 000 R 7 695 682 R 71 497 982 Amount

% of whole R 50 048 587.57 R 30 029 153 R 6 005 831 R 6 005 831 R 6 005 831 R 2 001 944 R 21 449 395 R 37 801 162 R 7 560 232 R 630 019

70 60 12 12 12 4 30

397 EXPENSES: SALARIES AND OPERATIONAL COSTS PHASE 1 STAFF SALARIES Staff Member Administration Directors Manager Administrative Officer Librarian Receptionist Ticket Manager Education Head of Education Head of Horticulture Curator Botanists Garden Technicians Tour Guides Research Researchers Lab Assistants Services Security Head Security Guard Cleaners Care-taker Parking Officer Total

Salary Monthly

Salary Annual

Staff Hired

R 30 000 R 25 000 R 11 000 R 22 000 R 9 000 R 9 000

R 360 000 R 300 000 R 132 000 R 264 000 R 108 000 R 108 000

1 1 1 1 2 1

R 360 000 R 300 000 R 132 000 R 264 000 R 216 000 R 108 000

R 23 000 R 17 000 R 22 000 R 21 000 R 13 000 R 15 000

R 276 000 R 204 000 R 264 000 R 252 000 R 156 000 R 180 000

1 1 1 10 30 10

R 276 000 R 204 000 R 264 000 R 2 520 000 R 4 680 000 R 1 800 000

R 22 000 R 13 000

R 264 000 R 156 000

10 5

R 2 640 000 R 780 000

R 8 000 R 7 000 R 6 900 R 7 300

R 96 000 R 84 000 R 82 800 R 87 600

1 2 10 1

R 96 000 R 168 000 R 828 000 R 87 600

R 9 000

R 108 000


R 108 000 R 15 831 600

BUILDING OVERHEADS Utilities Electricity Water Telecommunications Data Maintenance Total R 52 802 300

R 15 840 690.0 R 31 672 290

R 7 262 500

R 2 178 750.0

PHASE 2 BUILDING OVERHEADS Utilities Electricity Water Telecommunications Data Maintenance Total PHASE 3 STAFF SALARIES Staff Member Administration Manager Administrative Officer Receptionist Ticket Manager Recreation Curator Walking Guides Services Security Head Security Guard Cleaners Parking Officer Total

Salary Monthly

Salary Annual

Staff Hired

R 25 000 R 11 000 R 9 000 R 9 000

R 300 000 R 132 000 R 108 000 R 108 000

1 1 1 1

R 300 000 R 132 000 R 108 000 R 108 000

R 22 000 R 15 000

R 264 000 R 180 000

1 5

R 264 000 R 900 000

R 8 000 R 7 000 R 6 900

R 96 000 R 84 000 R 82 800

1 2 5

R 96 000 R 168 000 R 414 000

R 9 000

R 108 000


R 108 000 R 2 598 000

BUILDING OVERHEADS Utilities Electricity


Security Head Security Guard Cleaners Parking Officer Total


R 8 000 R 7 000 R 6 900

R 96 000 R 84 000 R 82 800

1 2 5

R 96 000 R 168 000 R 414 000

R 9 000

R 108 000


R 108 000 R 2 598 000

BUILDING OVERHEADS Utilities Electricity Water Telecommunications Data Maintenance Total

R 7 230 500

R 2 169 150.0 R 4 767 150

PHASE 3 Total operational costs ALL PHASES

R 39 037 440

INCOME : PHASES Income Sources PHASE 1 Tickets: regular Tickets: students Tickets: scholars Tickets: elderly Seminars: students Seminars Workshops: students Workshops


PROJECTED ANNUAL VISITORS R 45 R 30 R 15 R 30 R 30 R 60 R 1 500 R 2 500


5000 5000 7500 1000 5000 5000 500 500


R 225 000 R 150 000 R 112 500 R 30 000 R 150 000 R 300 000 R 750 000 R 1 250 000

R 2 700 000 R 1 800 000 R 1 350 000 R 360 000 R 1 800 000 R 3 600 000 R 9 000 000 R 15 000 000

R 2 500 000

R 30 000 000

R 5 000

R 255 000

PER EVENT Conference Centre Events

R 5 000 Per person annually

Library membership

500 Members

R 50




Restaurant Nursery Market Café Souvenir Shop Florist

RENTABLE SPACE in m² R 150 R 150 R 150 R 150 R 150 R 150

TOTAL PHASE 3 RENT PER m² PER MONTH Spa facilities Meditation facilities Studios




200 200 375 100 50 50

R 30 000 R 30 000 R 56 250 R 15 000 R 7 500 R 7 500

R 360 000 R 360 000 R 675 000 R 180 000 R 90 000 R 90 000


R 146 250

R 1 755 000


MONTHLY INCOME ANNUAL INCOME 1000 R 200 000 75 R 11 250 75 R 11 250 PROJECTED ANNUAL VISITORS PROJECTED ANNUAL USAGE TOTAL R 45 500 R 22 500 R 30 500 R 15 000 R0 1000 R0

R 200 R 150 R 150 PRICE PER PERSON

Guided hikes/walks: students Guided hikes/walks Unsupervised walks/hikes

Fines per annum


R 260 000

R 2 400 000 R 135 000 R 135 000 R 270 000 R 180 000 R0 R 3 120 000 R 70 740 000


Annual Estimated Expense


R 0 Phase One Solar Panels Architect TOTAL

R 52 802 300 R 11 000 000 R 7 695 682 R 71 497 982 Income - Expense SANBI WITS UJ BiomimicrySA Public Shareholders


Project R 66 315 000 Operational Bank Loan Phase Two TOTAL


R 1 755 000 R 68 070 000 Operational Phase 1 Operational Phase 2 Bank Loan Phase Three TOTAL

R 3 120 000 R 71 190 000 Operational Phase 1 Operational Phase 2 Operational Phase 3 Bank Loan TOTAL

60% 12% 12% 12% 4%

R 19 819 978 R 11 891 987 R 2 378 397 R 2 378 397 R 2 378 397 R 792 799

R 11 891 987 R 2 378 397 R 2 378 397 R 2 378 397 R 792 799

60% 12% 12% 12% 4%

R 19 428 228 R 11 656 937 R 2 331 387 R 2 331 387 R 2 331 387 R 777 129

R 23 548 924 R 4 709 785 R 4 709 785 R 4 709 785 R 1 569 928

60% 12% 12% 12% 4%

R 27 609 578 R 16 565 747 R 3 313 149 R 3 313 149 R 3 313 149 R 1 104 383

R 40 114 670 R 8 022 934 R 8 022 934 R 8 022 934 R 2 674 311

60% 12% 12%

R 27 609 578 R 16 565 747 R 3 313 149 R 3 313 149

R 56 680 417 R 11 336 083 R 11 336 083

R 31 672 290 R 2 178 750 R 2 169 150 R 7 560 232 R 43 580 422 Income - Expense SANBI WITS UJ BiomimicrySA Public Shareholders


R -71 497 982 R -42 898 789 R -8 579 758 R -8 579 758 R -8 579 758 R -2 859 919

R 31 672 290 R 2 178 750 R 7 560 232 R 7 230 500 R 48 641 772 Income - Expense SANBI WITS UJ BiomimicrySA Public Shareholders


60% 12% 12% 12% 4% R 31 672 290 R 7 560 232 ` R 7 262 500 R 46 495 022 Income - Expense

SANBI WITS UJ BiomimicrySA Public Shareholders

R 71 190 000 Operational Bank Loan TOTAL

R 36 020 190 R 7 560 232 R 43 580 422 Income - Expense SANBI WITS UJ

Cumulative Profit


400 ANNEXURE C QUESTIONNAIRE A Nature Park and Botanical Centre at the foot of the Linksfield Ridge: Exploring the connection between Nature and Architecture

1. How do you believe architecture can be influenced by the natural world? ______________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________ 2. Do you think that there is currently a disconnection from the environment in our society? ______________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________ 3. Do you think that spending time in nature is important? Why? ______________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________ 4. How do you think Biomimicry will influence the future in terms of design? ______________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________ 5. Why (in your opinion) is it so important to go ‘green’ and protect the environment? ______________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________ 6. How do you understand the term ‘Genius Loci’ or ‘Spirit of Place’? Where do you find this spirit the most? ______________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________ 7. How can life’s principles be applied to a centre that aims to integrate with nature in order to teach people about the connection between the built environment and nature? ______________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________ 8. How can the construction industry be influenced to use Biomimicry and natural resources instead of the current working solutions? ______________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________ 9. What are the most efficient ways to make a building more green and sustainable? ______________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________ 10. Energy, light, water, heating, cooling, and waste are the main issues to deal with in design. How does nature handle these issues and how can that be applied?

401 ______________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________ 11. What is your favourite application of Biomimicry? ______________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________ 12. Why should architects change the way they design? i.e. What is the value for the architect and the user to completely change the way we approach design? ______________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________ 13. How do we sell the idea of biomimetic design to the people who are sceptical? ______________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________ 14. Do you believe that this project could be a feasible and useful idea to its context? ______________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________ 15. What is the value in creating more facilities where people can learn about nature and Biomimicry? ______________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________ . ABIGAIL JANISCH Master of Architecture


A Botanical Research and Education Centre  

A project that explores the connection between nature and architecture, attempting to blur the line of their integration.

A Botanical Research and Education Centre  

A project that explores the connection between nature and architecture, attempting to blur the line of their integration.