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ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN AND FORM INSPIRED BY NATURE

Emmanouil Tselas


UNIVERSITY OF HUDDERSFIELD SCHOOL OF ART, DESIGN AND ARCHITECTURE Academic Year 2012-2013 Module THA1121-1213: HISTORY AND THEORY

Why architects, in many cases, study nature as a source of inspiration in the design and form of buildings? Author: Emmanouil Tselas U1063179 Supervisor: Dr. Yun Gao


ABSTRACT'

It is known that architecture and nature are strongly related. The goal of this dissertation is for a research to be made in order to discover the reasons that architects are intrigued by nature as a source of inspiration and why they embed it in their designs. A study of popular building examples in the history of architecture as well as less known modern buildings was made. Specifically, a case study of Yellow tree house restaurant in Auckland – New Zealand, Lotus Temple in New Delhi – India and Aquatic Center in Beijing – China was completed. A selection of books, journals, videos and Internet sources was used in order for an in depth research to be made. The aim of the research was to understand and realize what architects want to achieve by the use of existing forms of nature in their building designs. Also it will be mentioned how the development of civilization and science influenced and developed architecture. Finally, the use of nature as a source of inspiration as well as implementation of natural elements in a design is a meritorious method that gives resonance, robustness and value efficiency.

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Table of Contents ' 1

INTRODUCTION

6

2

LITERATURE REVIEW

8

2.1 Definitions of nature, architectural form and design and their relation 8 2.1.1 Definition of architecture 8 2.1.2 Definition of nature 9 2.1.3 Relation of nature with architecture 10 2.1.4 Basic definitions of form and design 10 2.1.5 Definition of concept idea 11 2.2 Nature as source of inspiration 2.2.1 Sources of inspiration 2.2.2 Nature as inspiration during the history of architecture 2.2.3 Historic examples of buildings inspired by nature 2.2.4 Natural form becomes form of a building 2.2.5 Ways that nature can inspire architecture

12 12 13 16 20 24

2.3 Conclusion

25

3

CASE STUDIES 26 3.1.1 Case Study 1,The Yellow Treehouserestaurant in Auckland, New Zealand 28 3.1.2 Case Study 2, The Lotus Temple in New Delhi, India 34 3.1.3 Case Study 3,Water Cube in Beijing, China 40

4

ANALYSIS OF RESEARCH FINDINGS

46

5

CONCLUSION

48

6

REFERENCES

50

!

!

3


List of Figures Figure 1: Orange County Government Cente, (architectural-review, 2008)

8

Figure 2: photo of nature, (australia, 2011)

9

Figure 3: conceptual drawings, (jqn-studio, 2010)

11

Figure 4: The Vitruvian Man, (azothgallery, unknown)

15

Figure 5: Great Pyramid of Piza, (famouswonders, unknown)

17

Figure 6: Parthenon, (goldennumber, unknown)

18

Figure 7: Sagrada Familia, (launchgram, unknown)

19

Figure 8: Taipei 101, (youthedesigner, unknown)

21

Figure 9: Bamboo plant, (youthedesigner, unknown)

21

Figure 10: Aldar Headquarters Building, (youthedesigner, unknown)

22

Figure 11: seashell, (youthedesigner, unknown)

22

Figure 12: flying bird, (secretofflight, unknown)

23

Figure 13: Milwaukee Art Museum, (frontdoor, 2009)

23

Figure 14: yellow treehouse concept sketch, (archdaily, 2009)

26

Figure 15: lotus temple painting, (tejapvk, unkonwn)

27

Figure 16: water cube section, (openbuildings, unknown)

27

Figure 17: tree house view 1, (archdaily, (2009)

28

Figure 18: cocoon image, (youthedesigner, unknown)

28

Figure 19: tree house view 2, (archdaily, 2009)

29

Figure 20: tree house structure, (archdaily, 2009)

31

Figure 21: tree house night view 1, (archdaily, 2009)

32

Figure 22: tree house night view 2 ,(archdaily, 2009)

33

Figure 23: Exterior view of lotus temple, (homedit, 2011)

34

Figure 24: night view lotus flower, (youthedesigner, unknown)

35

Figure 25: lotus flower, (ndsu, unknown)

35

Figure 26: FariborzSahba during lotus temple construction, (kdkfactory, 2011)

36

Figure 27: the construction of lotus flower, (kdkfactory, 2011)

37

Figure 28: aerial view lotus temple, (archdaily, 2009)

38

Figure 29: interior view lotus temple, (archdaily, 2009)

39

Figure 30: night view 1 water cube, (inhabitat, 2008)

40

Figure 31: soap bubbles, (bouvierphotography, 2010)

40

Figure 32: night view 2 water cube, (inhabitat, 2008)

41

Figure 33: watercube faรงade, (inhabitat, 2008)

42 43 43 44

Figure 34: structure 1 water cube, (inhabitat, 2008) Figure 35: structure 2 water cube, (inhabitat, 2008) Figure 36: interior water cube, (inhabitat, 2008)

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1 Introduction The architecture interconnects with nature since the early years of its existence. Architecture has an immediate relation with nature as it is affected in many different ways, which are going to be analyzed below. Principally architecture can be influenced in a practical and as well as inspirational way, where many distinctive methods imply (Finsterwalder, R., 2011). Primarily, all the structures are affected by the surroundings that are built in (context). For example, when a structure is being built, many variables should be taken under consideration, such as the configuration and morphology of the ground, the altitude or the distance between the site and the sea. In the past, local materials were used in buildings due to the difficulties in transportation from distant sources. Nowadays, in many cases materials from the local palette are preferably used both in terms of influence as well as sustainability. Another important factor is the weather. Climate conditions are a crucial factor in the design process of a building, as it is advisable to be utilized, in order to get the maximum benefits and accumulate a better way of usage. Apart from the fact that nature affects the buildings, it could be used as an inspiration for design concept in architecture. In many cases, people usually tend to study the way nature functions and try to apply them on buildings. Generally, this happens in order for the building to be more functional and save as much energy as possible. An example is the way ants create spaces in their underground nests in order to take advantage of the higher temperature in contrast with the air temperature using the ground as insulation and saving energy. Based on all different ways that nature affects architecture, different types of architecture have been created with major examples organic and bio-mimicry architecture (Chi, T., 2006). A last but not least way that nature can be an inspiration, are the forms that creates. These shapes and forms can lead in a design concept of a building. The aforementioned way is the main topic that this dissertation will focus on. To be more specific, the main question it is about the reasons that the architects in many cases study nature to take inspiration for the design and the form of the buildings they design. That could happen with many different ways, as the shapes that you can see in nature could be concepts 6


for the design of buildings. These shapes could be the shape of a flower, the way that waves are moving or the way that a jaguar is running. As it is noticed, there is plenty of inspiration out there. It has been observed that through the time, human activity and development was strongly interacted with nature. Even nowadays architects and designers still try to find inspiration in nature. In order to answer the main question more subquestions emerge. What is the definition of nature and architectural form and design? Why is it nature an inspiration source for the design? (Feuerstein, G., 2002). In the first chapter, in the first section of this dissertation an analysis of the main definition of nature, architectural form and design, concept idea and the connection of all these will be made. In the second section of the first chapter, will be mentioned the main sources of inspiration, the ways that nature affected architecture during the history and will be mentioned briefly examples of buildings that inspired by nature and will be analyzed the concept of some great monuments of architecture. In addition, it will focus on the ways that a conceptual idea based on nature it used by the architects. In the second chapter will be a research in order to find the reasons that architects use nature for inspiration by studying three case studies. These case studies are the yellow treehouse restaurant in New Zealand, the lotus temple in India and the National Aquatic Centre in China. All of them are characteristic examples of architecture inspired by nature. The third chapter will be an analysis of the research findings in order to be given an answer to the main question of this dissertation. Finally the conclusion would be a summary of the results, which emerged from the research.

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2 Literature Review 2.1 Definitions of nature, architectural form and design and their relation At this section will be explained basic definitions that should be known for the research and the analysis of case studies.

2.1.1

Definition of architecture

There have been given a variety of different definitions in order to explain what exactly is architecture. Some of the most accurate definitions are following. “Architecture is the art and science of designing and erecting building.” Differently, it is known as “The art or practise of designing and constructing buildings”. “The complex or carefully designed structure of something”. “The style in which a building is designed and constructed, especially with regard to a specific period, place or culture. ”Despite the small differences between these definitions are essentially explain the same fact which is that architecture is an art and it is the philosophy behind the design of the building that makes it functional, efficient, combined with its environment context by the use of well-thought design forms materiality and structure in order to be built.

Figure 1: Orange County Government Center by Paul Rudolph, (architectural-review, 2008) 8


2.1.2

Definition of nature

It will be attempted to discover what exactly it is meant when someone refers to nature, what is the meaning of the word nature and which elements belong in the physical planet. “Nature is the phenomena of the physical world collectively, including plants, animals, the landscape, and other features and products of the earth, as opposed to humans or human creations�. Based on this definition, nature is the natural world without any change that people made, thanks to the development of the civilization. The nature includes all the elements of the natural world, for instance, mountains, trees, animals or lakes.

Figure 2: photo of nature, (australia, 2011)

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2.1.3

Relation of nature with architecture

It is have be mentioned some facts about the direct connection of nature with architecture. That is explained by the fact that there are so many different kinds of architecture that are connected with nature. Some examples of these kinds of architecture are: organic, biomimicry, vernacular and landscape architecture. All of these different categories use nature as inspiration for the form of a building, the functions that could be applied or the way that a building could be combined with the natural environment. According to Alvaro Siza “What is made by man is not natural. More and more think that there must be a certain distance between the natural and manmade. But there must be also a dialogue between the two. Architecture comes from nature forms but it also transforms nature…” (Finsterwalder, R., 2011).

2.1.4

Basic definitions of form and design

Form and design, are fundamental terms of architecture. The definitions of form and design mention that: “Form is the external appearance of a clearly defined area, as distinguished from color or material”. “Design is the preparation of the preliminary sketch or the plans for a work to be executed, especially the plan, the form and the structure of a certain scheme.”

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2.1.5

Definition of concept idea

“Concept is an idea of something formed by mentally combining all its characteristics or particulars a construct.� The process of designing a building or general a scheme incorporates all these terms that were mentioned. The concept is the initial idea of the project and as it is developed through the design it gets a more clear and realistic form.

Figure 3: conceptual drawings, (jqn-studio, 2010)

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2.2 Nature as source of inspiration 2.2.1

Sources of inspiration

“Inspiration is the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.”When a project starts, architects try to find an inspiration in order to design their idea. This idea after many changes and a lot of development will take the final shape. Inspiration could be almost anything for the architects. For instance, inspiration for an architect could be a painting that they saw, the shape of the site for which they have to design the building or the functionality of the building. If an architect who is designing for example a shopping center, which needs to have a very well-though circulation, that could be the main inspiration for the building. (Eckert, C., & Stacey,, M. 2000). In many cases, architects find new sources of inspiration to explain their concept. There are many common sources of inspiration, which are used very often and other sources of inspiration that could be extraordinary. One of the most used sources of inspiration is nature because it offers many ideas that an architect can use for a design. “The variety of forms in nature seems endless. Out of a limited quantity of mathematical rules a seemingly endless quantity of forms and patterns arise. Patterns derive from mathematical rules. The beauty of patterns and forms in nature based on mathematical rules, the regularity and

uniformity,

and

symmetry

harmonious.” (Feuerstein, G., 2002).

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are

what

man

feels

as


2.2.2 Nature as inspiration during the history of architecture The design and therefore architecture have a tight connection with nature. This connection started when people started to build the first buildings. It will be mentioned some characteristic examples of inspiration that people had during the history that evidence that nature was always an inspiration for architecture from the first buildings till nowadays. (Gans, D & Kuz, Z. (2003). The examples of architecture inspired by nature during the period that the first buildings were erected are countless. This was absolutely normal as the first shelter-like residences that were ever built had nature as their only source of inspiration. One very characteristic example is that the form of bird’s nest inspired the shelters that were built. Apart from the natural inspired form of the buildings that the people design, they were using the functions of nature in their buildings in order to make them more functional. As Albrecht Dürer has said about how important is nature to use it ”Because truly the art is in nature, who can tear it out, got it.” (Finsterwalder, R., 2011). Separately from that first period that people used nature as inspiration they continued to use it during the history of architecture. The development of civilization helped the progress of the architecture too. Many ideas from mathematics were applied in architecture in order to achieve the best result for the designing and the construction of the buildings. For instance the divina proportion by Vitruvius was a symbol of conformity between spirit and nature. Marcus Vitruvius Pollio who was a Roman writer, architect and engineer and lived during the 1st century BC. He analyzed the Pythagoras’ idea, which was explaining that the divine rule is revealed in the simple numbers (mycrandall, 2011). In a Vitruvius book there are many references to the architects of Ancient Greece, Iktinos, Kallikrates and Phidias who was more a designer and a sculptor. They are famous for designing and constructing the Parthenon in Athens. It is occurs that the theory of Vitruvius was based on architectural examples of the Hellenistic Era. As it is written in the book III of his treatise De Architectura by Vitruvius “If namely a man lies on his back with his arms and legs outstretched, and a circle is inscribed around the center point of the navel, than the tips of 13


both hands and toes are touched by this circle. Along with the circle formed, the figure of a square can be found. If a measure is taken from the soles of the feet to the top of the head and compared with a measure of the outstretched arms, it will be the same width and height as are defined according to the square protractor� Vitruvius based his theory on the human body, which is an extraordinary product of nature. That does not refer just the way it functions but also the perfect proportions that it has. (Finsterwalder, R., 2011). Leonardo Da Vinci evolved further analysis with notes and drawings of The Vitruvian Man (Figure 4), as it is known based on the theory of divine proportion that Vitruvius developed from the Pythagoras’ idea (Feuerstein, G., 2002). All these theories during the centuries had one goal. This goal was to find the perfect proportions in order the modern man to design a harmonic world based on these proportions as Vitruvius said. Another proof that these perfect proportions are in nature is the striking quantity of plants petals. In most of the plants they correspond to numbers in the series 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89 and so on. The rule of this row is that each number is the sum the two numbers before. This mathematical sequence was called Fibonacci sequence after Leonardo of Pisa, who was known as Fibonacci. Fibonacci was based his mathematical sequence on the golden ratio or as it is called golden section. Pythagoras studied the golden ratio too (Finsterwalder, R., 2011).

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The research for the perfection, due to the development of the science and mathematics, which had straight connection with nature, was used in architecture. There are many examples of buildings that were designed by using the golden ratio. Some of them are the most famous architectural monuments in the world.

Figure 4: The Vitruvian Man, (azothgallery, unknown)

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2.2.3 Historic examples of buildings inspired by nature During the history of architecture were built innumerable buildings that have been inspired by nature. Many of these buildings do not have a form that is exactly like a form in nature but their design it is based on nature and more specific on the golden ratio that it was already mentioned. There will be a briefly focus on three different buildings, which were built in different periods in history and were inspired by nature and are famous monuments known around the world. In chronological order the monuments on which will focus on are the Pyramids in Egypt, the Parthenon in Greece and the Sagrada Familia in Spain.

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The Pyramids in Egypt and especially the Pyramid of Giza (Figure 5) is one of the greatest monuments of architecture. The construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza started in 2560 BC and it was finished in 2540 BC. The pyramid was constructed based on phi, the golden ratio. Behind this great monument there is mathematical logic that is inspired by nature. As it is shown at the figure there is geometry behind the design of the pyramid as the angles that are created are based on the phi (Goldnumber, 2012).

Figure 5: Great Pyramid of Piza, (famouswonders, unknown)

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The Parthenon (Figure 6) is one of the most ancient and popular monuments in the world. It was build in Athens and the architects Iktinos and Kallikrates and the designer and sculptor Pidias designed it. The construction of Parthenon began in 447 BC and it was completed in 438 BC. The Parthenon is another great example of the use of golden ratio. Euclid documented the golden ratio for first time in the “Elements� in about 300 BC. That means that the Parthenon was built about 147 years before the golden ratio became a certain theory. However, the proportions of the golden ratio have been used in the Parthenon Goldnumber, (2013).

Figure 6: Parthenon, (goldennumber, unknown)

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The Spanish architect Antonio Gaudi designed Sagrada FamĂ­lia (Figure 7), a Roman Catholic Church in Barcelona, Spain. Gaudi used many natural elements for the design.Adrian Bejan had said that the facades of the Sagrada FamĂ­lia are based on the golden ratio, the geometric proportion "behind all aesthetically pleasing art." (Berlin, J., 2010). Gaudi designed the roof in the shape of magnolia leaf. I addition many details of the building are inspired by nature such as spiral stairways, honeycomb gates, gargoyles depicting animals, diatom-shaped windows and pinnacles in the form of grasses. Gaudi did a lot of research for the design of this church. It is very famous the chain model that he created, and he managed with that model to find the ideal form (Ecofriend, 2012). All these examples during the history of architecture prove that the nature was in many cases the inspiration for the design of the buildings.However, that this was not visible with the form of the building.

Figure 7: Sagrada Familia, (launchgram, unknown)

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2.2.4

Natural form becomes form of a building

During the history of architecture there have been many buildings inspired by nature. It is obvious that in some of them is easy to understand, that their shape and form was inspired by the natural environment but in some others is not that easy. Examples of buildings that are difficult to recognize that their design is inspired by nature are the monuments that have been mentioned at this section. At this part the author will briefly mention some examples in which the architects do not just choose to use nature as inspiration, but also to represent nature through the form of the buildings they designed.

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C.Y. Lee & Partners designed a skyscraper named Taipei 101 (Figure 8) in Taiwan’s capital city. The form and the shape of that skyscraper were inspired by the indigenous slender bamboo (Figure 9), which is seen as an icon of learning and growth by the country (Gonzales, Zy., 2012). Through that way the architect managed to connect that building with the country’s philosophy (Gonzales, Zy., 2012).

Figure 8: Taipei 101, (youthedesigner,

Figure 9: Bamboo plant, (youthedesigner,

unknown)

unknown)

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Another example comes from Aldar Headquartes (Figure 10) located in Abu Dhabi which had been designed by the MZ Architects firm. The firm’s inspiration for the building came by a seashell(Figure 11). The inspirational concept of the skyscraper’s shape, apart from the seashell, was also that the building represents a fusion of tradition and modernity which also symbolizes unity and stability (ARUP, 2011).

Figure 10: Aldar Headquarters Building, (youthedesigner, unknown)

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Figure 11: seashell, (youthedesigner, unknown)


The Milwaukee Art Museum (Figure 13) in United States of America has been designed by Santiago Calatrava. Calatrava in many designs of his buildings uses nature as an inspiration and specifically skeletons of animals (Arcspace, 2001). The concept idea of this building is the wings of a bird (Figure 12). Specifically, the structure moves during the day representing, through that way, the moves of a bird’s wings (Nate53202, 2009).

Figure 12: flying bird, (secretofflight, unknown)

Figure 13: Milwaukee Art Museum, (frontdoor, 2009)

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2.2.5

Ways that nature can inspire architecture

All the aforementioned examples of buildings prove that in many cases architects use nature as source of inspiration. However, at this point an important distinctness has to be mentioned. Not all the architects use nature as an inspiration source in the same way. Dependent on some specific factors every architect decides the way in which he/she is going to use nature. Every case and every project is different. According to the architectural philosophy of each architect he/she can study nature in order to solve the problems that he/she has on a particular project. Nature can give answers and solutions in many difficulties that architects have in the designing process of a certain scheme. These difficulties could concern the structure of a building, the respond to the context, the circulation the materiality, the functionality or the shape and the form of the building. Most of the architects believe that nature as a source of inspiration is great and can offer many ideas. The contrast of the views is related to the ways nature should be used from the architects. There is an opinion in the book “Form follows nature” which mentions that, “…For all kinds of systems, however, an appropriate structure has to be found. Nature can only give a suggestion, but cannot simply copied. A critical reflection of the study is essential, so as to use the experience in another context…” …” (Finsterwalder, R., 2011). A question that could be asked in that case is if a form of a building or a part of a building’s form, which is similar with a natural form, is a pleasant result or just a copied natural form. The main reasons that architects choose to use nature as an inspiration for the shape and the form of a building are explained in the next chapter.

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2.3 Conclusion By studying all the previous sources of information it has been understood by the author that nature and architecture are strongly related. In conclusion of the background research can be deducted that in many cases architects are inspired by nature. Nevertheless, that inspiration is not used in every case as a final shape and form of a building. In the aforementioned examples the presented buildings do not have conceptually influences from nature but their form has been influenced by it. In the next section the author presents case studies of buildings that their form is directly inspired by nature.

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3 Case Studies In the current section the author focuses on three different buildings, as case studies in order for the reader to better understand all the information previously provided. All three case studies have a common characteristic, which is a shape that it is inspired by nature. The first building is called “The Yellow Treehouse restaurant” (Figure 14) which is built in Auckland in New Zealand and the shape of a cocoon inspired its shape (Archdaily, 2009). The second one is “The Lotus Temple” (Figure 15) which is located in New Delhi in India and as appears by its name the concept of this building is the form of a lotus flower (Rizor, 2011). The last building is National Aquatic Centre (Figure 16) in Beijing in China, which is also called Water Cube (Dezeen, 2008). These case studies are analyzed in order to find the reasons that made the architects to get inspired by nature for their design and what they achieved by using such a concept. After the case studies presentation an analysis is conducted. Gonzales, Zy., (2012).

Figure 14: yellow treehouse concept sketch, (archdaily, 2009)

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Figure 15: lotus temple painting, (tejapvk, unkonwn)

Figure 16: water cube section, (openbuildings, unknown)

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3.1.1 Case Study 1,The Yellow Treehouserestaurant in Auckland, New Zealand The first case study that will be analyzed is called “The Yellow Tree house� (Figure 17). It is located in Auckland in New Zealand. The project started in 2008 and it was finished one year later in 2009. The architects of this project are Peter Eising and Lucy Gauntlet who own the Pacific Environments company. The company that constructed the building was Citywide

Construction.

(Archdaily,

2009).

The

competition

was

an

advertisement campaign of yellow pages in New Zealand. It had to deal with the creation of a treehouse restaurant, which would be opened to the public for about a month and afterwards the owner of the site would use it. (proxityworldwide, 2009). That scheme had to meet a variety of requirements such as space for 18 seated people, waiting staff and should also include a bar (Archdaily, 2009).

Figure 17: tree house view 1, (archdaily,

Figure 18: cocoon image, (youthedesigner,

(2009)

unknown)

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The part of this project that is interesting for the research is why the architects have chosen that shape and concept and what was achieved by using that idea. Due to the fact that the site was a part of a forest in which no other building has been built, the architects had to find a form for the tree house of the project that would fit in the environment and would not destroy the natural background. In order to achieve that they chose a form inspired by nature.

Figure 19: tree house view 2, (archdaily, 2009)

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It has been said by the architects that the project: “…is inspired through many forms found in nature -the chrysalis/cocoon (Figure 18)

protecting

the

emerging

butterfly/moth,

perhaps

an

onion/garlic clove form hung out to dry”. .” (Architype Media, 2012). The similarities between the shapes of the structure and the shape of the cocoon are visible at the two figures below and it is a very good example of a structure form based on a form that you can find in nature. In addition, as being said by the architects other ways that it could function:“…is also seen as a lantern, a beacon at night that simply glows yet during the day it might be a semi camouflaged growth, or a tree fort that provides an outlook and that offers refuge. The plan form also has loose similarities to a sea shell with the open ends spiraling to the center”. Another factor that influenced the architects’ concept was the enchanted site, which rises above an open meadow and meanders in the edge of the woods (Architype Media, 2012). Last but not least, the most important is that almost the same form used by nature can also be a functional building.

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Another important factor is how the engineers managed to accomplish an extraordinary project like this and constructed the main shape to be like a cocoon Gonzales, Zy., (2012). Furthermore, it is also important how the parts of the structure were constructed, in order to be supported just from one column, which in this case is the tree bole. During the construction there were some issues that the architects had to solve. In an interview Peter Eising mentions: “Working in an environment of a living tree, where there are no building codes. The tree needed structural testing using a ‘ping-test’ where a rope and measuring system was set up to test the trunk, root system etc. Also looking after the welfare of the tree –an arborist was employed to advise. The tree was 40 years old and still growing. Trees in New Zealand generally grow much quicker than other parts of the world and their cellular structure is weaker. Subsequently larger margins of safety were implemented.” (Architype Media, 2012). In addition, due to the fact that the floor was 10m off the ground they had to use significant scaffolding in order to support the works and the structure (Figure 20), which was 14 meters high. The main structure it is formed by timber trussed.

Figure 20: tree house structure, (archdaily, 2009)

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The curved fins are glue–laminated pine, plantation poplar has been used for the slats and redwood milled from the site used in the walkway balustrading.The openings between the slats/fins function as windows as you have view from every angle. In addition, these openings make the light visible during the night in order to create that wonderful result (Figure 21).

Figure 21: tree house night view 1, (archdaily, 2009)

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In conclusion, as it was mentioned before by using the form of a cocoon on a branch, in a larger scale and by using a tree bole instead the architects achieve to create an interesting and extraordinary building that responds to the context. In addition, gives a feeling that it is very natural to have a structure like this on a tree. Finally, according to the visitors the construction of this tree house along with the path that leads to it is a very nice experience.

Figure 22: tree house night view 2, (archdaily, 2009)

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3.1.2 Case Study 2, The Lotus Temple in New Delhi, India The second case study is a temple that was built in New Delhi in India. The name of the building is “The Lotus Temple” (Figure 23). The Iranian architect FariborzSahba designed it. The Universal House of Justice, the international governing body of the Baha’is, organized the competition. The project started in 1976 and it was finished in 1986 (Rizor, 2011). The form of the building is inspired by the lotus flower (Figure 25). This building was chosen as a case study because it will help the reader to understand the reasons that a flower could be an idea for a building. Relying on the architect’s statements an analysis of the reasons that he used nature as an inspiration is followed Gonzales, Zy., (2012).

Figure 23: Exterior view of lotus temple, (homedit, 2011)

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The architect gives a very clear answer about the reasons that made him to propose a design inspired by a flower. According to Fariborz Sahba due to the fact that he had to design a House of Worship, he had to find a concept that would be acceptable to the people of all different backgrounds. His goal was the creation of a building that would be a new design but at the same time would be something familiar for the most of the people. He said that he visited about a hundred different temples in India in order to understand which concept a temple should have and integrate the spiritual heritage of India (MK., 2012).

Figure 24: night view lotus flower, (youthedesigner, unknown)

Figure 25: lotus flower, (ndsu, unknown) 35


About the form of the temple that looks like a flower, the architect gives a specific and clear answer in an interview about the reasons that made him to choose as inspiration a part of nature and more specially the lotus flower. “There is a deep and universal reverence for the lotus in India. It is regarded as a sacred flower associated with worship throughout many centuries and therefore its significance is deeply rooted in the minds and hearts of the Indians. In the epic poem Mahabharata, the Creator Brahma is described as having sprung from the lotus. In Buddhist folklore the Buddha is represented as being born from a lotus, and is usually depicted standing or sitting on a lotus. It is also deeply rooted in the Zoroastrian and Islamic architecture; for example, the dome of the Taj Mahal is bud of a lotus.� (MK., 2012).

Figure 26: FariborzSahba during lotus temple construction, (kdkfactory, 2011)

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This theoretical concept managed to be an actual building. The ways that the architect managed to incorporate the concept idea with the actual building are mentioned in the following part. Apart from the exterior of the building he managed to design the interior (Figure 29) ,which was also inspired by the same concept. The structure is designed in order to function as a skylight. The dome at the interior of the temple is composed from an intersection of nine spheres. Furthermore, the dome is patterned after the innermost portion of the lotus flower. All these thoughts about the interior design of the temple gives to the visitor the feeling that the space inside the temple is like a bud. This “bud� consists of 27 petals and filters for the light. The light through these inner folds is diffused throughout the hall. In addition, the design is completed with nine open petals, which functions as skylight and surround the central hall and nine entrance petals. (MK., 2012).

Figure 27: the construction of lotus flower, (kdkfactory, 2011)

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The main design of the building is completed in a way that the exterior spaces are connected with the interior. Apart from the reasons that the exterior is designed with a certain way, in order to complete the design of the building it also has an important role for the cooling of the building. According to FariborzSahba:�Nine pools (Figure 28) around the building form the principal landscape of the building. They also represent

the

green

leaves

of

the

lotus

afloat

on

water.

Moreover, the pools and fountains help to cool the air that passes over them into the hall. The superstructure, the podium and the pools are designed as an integrated whole.� (MK., 2012)

Figure 28: aerial view lotus temple, (archdaily, 2009) 38


It can be understood with this example that architecture and nature are very connected. Specifically, in this case there is the lotus flower that has a strong bond with the people and with the history of the religion in India. At the same time there is a fact; a building that has to be constructed. The architect makes a composition of all these, by using the form of flower that appears in nature and then uses it in order to design a building. With this idea the architect achieves to create a space where people would feel related with the building, even thought that is the first time that they visit it.

Figure 29: interior view lotus temple, (archdaily, 2009)

39


3.1.3

Case Study 3,Water Cube in Beijing, China

The third and the last one of the case studies is an analysis of the Water Cube in Beijing, officially known as the National Aquatic Center (Figure 30). The building has been build in order to be utilized as the main pool hall of the 2008 Summer Olympics in China. PTW Architects designed it, which is an architecture firm in Australia (MK., 2012). China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC), China Construction Design International (CCDI) and Arup, an international engineering group, built it. The design of the Water Cube won the architectural competition that was held in 2003 between 10 different proposal concepts. The reasons that the designers chose this concept for the building and what do they achieve with that and some facts about how it was built, are mentioned in the following section. (Dezeen, 2008).

Figure 30: night view 1 water cube, (inhabitat, 2008)

Figure 31: soap bubbles, (bouvierphotography, 2010) 40


There was a variety of reasons that made the architects to end up with the final design. First of all, a factor that influenced the design was the National Stadium of Beijing, or as it is also known, the Bird’s Nest which is built next to the site of the Water Cube (Zou. P.X. W. & Leslie-Carter.R, 2010). The Bird’s Nest had been designed before the Water Cube and its spectacular design made the PTW Architects to design a very modern building that it could stand next to it. So, regarding the thinking of the concept of the Water Cube there are many different elements, which contrast with the design of Bird’s Nest. (Zou. P.X. W. & Leslie-Carter.R, 2010). The first difference is that the Water Cube has blue color, which symbolizes water against the stadium’s red, which then symbolizes fire. In addition, it has a square shape which contrasts with the stadium’s round shape. All these differences and mostly the opposing shapes are in ‘yin-yang’ harmony, which is a key concept in Chinese culture. Another important component is that the street that separates the exterior spaces of the two buildings is a protected historic axis to Beijing’s Forbidden City. (Zou. P.X. W. & LeslieCarter.R, 2010).

Figure 32: night view 2 water cube, (inhabitat, 2008)

41


Apart from all the reasons that have been mentioned about the thinking of the concept design, the main idea of the concept of the building, which is inspired by nature is signified at this paragraph. The architects did a lot of research until they decide which is going to be the final concept for the design of the Water Cube. (Aaron Yeung 2012). The main concept was the soap bubbles (Figure 31). A characteristic that soap bubbles have is that despite their random appearance; always cling together in regular patterns in twelve and fourteen sided cells. Some people call that nature’s most efficient division of space. Despite the fact they have a very thin look; an infinite array of connected soap bubbles has the geometry to be used for a structure of a building as in this case. For all these reasons the architects chose a design inspired by nature which in that case is connected with its function; as it is a building that its entire exterior is covered with bubbles.

Figure 33: watercube façade, (inhabitat, 2008)

42


Apart from the extreme design, the building is very efficient, functional and environmental friendly. The building is a greenhouse that maximizes the use of carbon-free solar energy for both heating and lighting (Zou. P.X. W. &

Leslie-Carter.R,

2010).

The

engineers

decided

to

use

ethylene

tetrafluoroethylene, which is a type of plastic (Figure 33). By using this material they managed many things, such as reducing the weight of the material that had to be supported by the structure (Figure 34)., improve the seismic performance of the building and give the building a recyclable and self-cleaning ability. Finally, the roof (Figure 35) is constructed in such a way that collects and reuses the water that falls on the building (Zou. P.X. W. & Leslie-Carter.R, 2010).

Figure 34: structure 1 water cube, (inhabitat, 2008)

Figure 35: structure 2 water cube, (inhabitat, 2008)

43


By studying all the previous sources of information it has been understood by the author that nature and architecture are strongly related. In conclusion of the background research can be deducted that in many cases architects are inspired by nature. Nevertheless, that inspiration is not used in every case to define the final shape and form of a building. In the aforementioned examples the presented buildings do not have conceptual influences from nature but their form has been a highly articulated interpretation of natural forms. In the next section the author presents case studies of buildings that their form is directly inspired by nature.

Figure 36: interior water cube, (inhabitat, 2008)

44


45


4 Analysis of research findings The current research results to a dilemma. On the one hand, there is a belief that architects should study nature in order to take inspiration before designing a building that will not be absolutely similar with the concept idea. Furthermore, according to this belief architects should study nature in the ways that it functions and not just to copy it. “Nature can only give a suggestion, but cannot simply copied”. This is an opinion that was mentioned before. On the other hand, many believe that the architects should be inspired by nature and use all this inspiration in order to the form of a building. Architects with that estimation think that by doing that they can take the advantages offered by nature and apply them on the shape of a building. It was previously mentioned that some historical buildings, do not show on their form that the design has any relation with nature apart from some details on them. However, the nature was the source of inspiration for those buildings. Furthermore, the author presented some modern buildings that their form was clearly inspired by nature as well as the reasons that architects did that. In addition, three different case studies have been studied. In these cases studies the architects did not just study nature in order to get inspired for the building’s design, but they have also studied nature to give a form on each building. The conclusion leads to a question, which is similar to the topic’s question. That question is: “Why architects, in many cases, study nature as a source of inspiration in the design and form of buildings”? Based on the research that has been conducted and the case studies, the author answers to that question in the following paragraphs. All three case studies had a common characteristic, which was a final design similar to the original concept idea. Each one of these buildings achieves different goals due to their shape. For instance, the treehouse has a shape that the architects managed to create from a natural form. This natural form achieves a smooth blend of the treehouse with the context, as the site was a forest with no other buildings around. The lotus temple, with its unique design, accomplishes another type of goals. The architect managed to connect the form of a temple, which is a religious place, with a famous flower that people are connected with it and it 46


is also connected with the native religion. Through that way the architect managed to give a very nice feeling to the visitors and connect them with the temple. In addition, there is a deep and universal reverence in India for the lotus flower and the architect, through the building’s form, managed to create a relation between people (especially believers) and the temple. As far as concerning the water cube the architects used nature for two reasons. The first one is that a building that its exterior has bubbles makes a straight connection with its functionality as it was going to be used as a pool for the Olympics of 2008. In that way, it was very easy for the visitor to understand the use of the building. Furthermore, the curtain design was used for the structure of the building as well. The second reason is that architects used the efficiency of nature on the building’s design. Frei Otto has noticed that foam bubbles always form an optimized surface, the smallest possible surface, which not only saves material but also, due to its form, shows the biggest possible stability. From all the case studies it can be deducted that the architects use natural forms for their design and without lacking inspiration. In addition, as it was found in the research, there are many different goals that architects achieve by using forms from nature in their design. If architects were choosing a more common design, that would not be possible. We can conclude as a result that nature is an exquisite field of inspiration in architecture, primarily in terms of building formation but also as a great element that can inform the designer for building mechanism, functionality and fluidity. As stated by Frank Lloyd Wright: ”Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” (Finsterwalder, R., 2011).

47


5 Conclusion In this dissertation the author tried to discover the reasons that architects use nature in their building design. Through the current research it was determined that architecture and nature are connected since architecture started to have some certain rules and philosophy behind every design that utilize natural element forms and theories. Furthermore, there were found many different answers about how nature should be used by architects. There are beliefs suggesting that nature should be studied in order for the architects to develop the building design, from concept to its final shape, establishing an implementation of natural elements and mechanisms in it. There are also other beliefs, which support that a building could have a natural form that it can be derived from a natural environment. From the case studies it has been understood that every architect according to his architectural philosophy, the place, the scheme and the period they designed it, chose a natural form for certain reasons. In addition, architects use the advantages offered by nature such as, functionality, efficiency, form, structure and materiality, in order to apply these advantages on their buildings. The question is, if the architects will continue to be based on nature for design concepts and building’s forms. In addition, another question is how is this going to influence the architecture in future. According to Juan Torras, “The architect of the future will build inspired by nature because it is the most rational, the most durable, and the most economic of all methods.� (Senosiain, J., 2003).

48


49


6 References Finsterwalder, R. (2011). Form follows nature, Austria: SprinigerWienNewYork. Senosiain, J. (2003). Bio-Architecture, Oxford: Elsevier Ltd. Feuerstein, G. (2002). Biomorphic architecture: human and animal forms in architecture, Stutgart/ London: Edition Axel Menges. Gans, D & Kuz, Z. (2003). The organic approach to architecture, Great Britain: Willey–Academy. Feuerstein, G. (2002). Biomorphic architecture: human and animal forms in architecture, Stutgart/ London: Edition Axel Menges.

Arciszewski, T., & Kicinger, R. (2006). Structural Design Inspired by nature. George Mason University.

Eckert, C., & Stacey,, M. (2000). Sources of inspiration: a language of design. University of Cambridge.

Pratt, J. W., & Schlaifer, R. (1984). On the nature and discovery of structure. Journal of American statistical Association.

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MK., (2012) In conversation with Fariborz Sahba, architect [online]. Availabe at < http://www.kdkfactory.com/perspactive/sahba/ > [Accessed 12 January 2012]. Architype Media, (2012) Peter Eising Pacific Environmnts Architects [online]. Available at < http://architypeconnect.com/archives/37153-peter-eising >[Accessed 20 January 2013]. Rizor, J., (2011). AD Classics: Lotus Temple / Fariborz Sahba [online]. Available at: < http://www.archdaily.com/158522/ad-classics-lotus-templefariborz-sahba/ > [Accessed 15 February 2013]. Zou. P.X. W. & Leslie-Carter.R., (2010). Lessons Learned from Managing the Design of the ‘Water Cube’ National Swimming Centre for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games [online]. Available at: <https://engineering.purdue.edu/MECOM/2011.China.Maymester/Water Cube.Zou.Leslie.Carter.Arch.E.D.Mgt.pdf > [Accessed 5 March 2013]. Dezeen, (2008) Watercube by PTW Architects [online]. Available at:< http://www.dezeen.com/2008/02/06/watercube-by-chris-bosse/> [Accessed 11 January 2013]. e-architect, (2008) Wtercube Beijing: National Swimming Center China [online]. Available at: http://www.earchitect.co.uk/beijing/watercube_beijing.htm [Accessed 9 February 2013]. Aaron Yeung, (2012). Mega Structures – Beijing Water Cube 北京水立方ṣ [online]. Available at: < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wUErEAsIQ0 > [Accessed at 8 February 2013]. Proximityworldwide, (2009). New Zealand Yellow Pages – Yellow Tree house [online]. Available at: < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4dBNG_A01g > [Accessed at 15 February 2013]. Gonzales, Zy., (2012) You! Be Inspired! – 10 Nature Inspired Architectural Designs [online]. Available at: <

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youthedesigner, (unknown) Aldar Headquarters Building [online image]. Available at: < http://www.youthedesigner.com/2012/08/17/you-beinspired-10-nature-inspired-architectural-designs/ > [Accessed at 18 February 2013] youthedesigner, (unknown) seashell [online image]. Available at: < http://www.youthedesigner.com/2012/08/17/you-be-inspired-10-natureinspired-architectural-designs/ > [Accessed at 18 February 2013] youthedesigner, (unknown) Taipei 101 [online image]. Available at: < http://www.youthedesigner.com/2012/08/17/you-be-inspired-10-natureinspired-architectural-designs/ > [Accessed at 18 February 2013] youthedesigner, (unknown) Bamboo plant [online image]. Available at: < http://www.youthedesigner.com/2012/08/17/you-be-inspired-10-natureinspired-architectural-designs/ > [Accessed at 18 February 2013] secretofflight, (unknown) flying bird [online image]. Available at: < http://secretofflight.wordpress.com/birds/> [Accessed at 11 January 2013] frontdoor, (2009) Milwaukee Art Museum [online image]. Available at: < http://www.frontdoor.com/city-guide/milwaukee-wi-usa/milwaukee-like-noplace-else> [Accessed at 24 February 2013] archdaily, (2009) yellow treehouse concept sketch[online image]. Available at: < http://www.archdaily.com/16445/yellow-treehouse-restaurant-pacificenvironments/> [Accessed at 15 November 2012] openbuildings, (unknown) water cube section [online image]. Available at: < http://openbuildings.com/buildings/national-swimming-center-water-cubeprofile-3570> [Accessed at 17 October 2012] tejapvk, (unkonwn) lotus temple painting [online image]. Available at: < http://tejapvk.deviantart.com/art/Lotus-temple-283000221 >[Accessed at 15 November 2012]

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Architectural design and form inspired by nature  

It is known that architecture and nature are strongly related. The goal of this dissertation is for a research to be made in order to discov...

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