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Designing with Nature in Mind

written by Shireen Qudosi January 12, 2010

As we move into a more sustainable future, we’re discovering what the ancients have known for a long time: nature is beautiful, powerful and perfect. Today’s fascinating article is about bio architecture and was contributed by Shireen Qudosi of the Qudosi Chronicles.

Several decades ago, a few creative thinkers started redefining the traditional idea of home.  From coast to coast, people started looking at their environment and began building with eco-inspired homes.

Hawaii’s famous Onion House is one popular example of a creative idea, now a national landmark and a beautiful testimonial to shift toward bio-architecture. Designed in tune with the curves of an onion, with a layered feel that mirrors the lucid skins of an onion, the house is a beautiful demonstration of the possibilities when nature is a design icon.

Further down south in Isla Mujeres, Mexico, the Shell House takes the idea literally by designing a house that looks like a magnified shell.  Senosian Arquitectos has the same idea with their design called “The Nautilus”.  This Mexico-based design firm went beyond a shell exterior and designed an entire home patterned after a shell with a winding organic interior.

Nature is the Best Designer

A student of the world’s best designer, bio-architecture seeks to emulate the principles in naturally occurring constructions.  In studying the natural principles of the most long-held designs, this form of aesthetic design looks at fundamental shapes in nature – the most recognizable being the seashell.

The seashell is the best representation of a math-centric natural element that shows why nature is the best designer.  Encompassing the Fibonacci Sequence, or “the Golden Ratio”, a seashell shows perfection in proportion that has been the foundation for some of the greatest designs, including the Parthenon, and by some of the greatest minds, including Leonardo Da Vinci.  The pattern has also been replicated in some of the world’s most cherished poetry by regulating rhyme and meters, as well as in music, such as Beethoven’s Fifth and many of Mozart’s sonatas.

The term “bio-architecture” is also often referred to as “organic architecture”, a thinking that has gained popularity with the rise in eco-awareness.  A shift toward green thinking took bio-architecture a step further and had creative-minded people thinking of how building could merge with the environment as well as reflect it.

Working with the Environment

Bio-architecture can not emulate natural designs, but can become a part of natural constructions.  Rather than create jarring buildings jutting out of plains, this type of architecture looks to emerge as a part of natural settings such as mountains, caves, and wooded areas, as well as present a home that uses resources wisely by cutting utility costs.

Even though these newer designs are based on older shifts toward innovative thinking, the earliest and most architecturally stunning design is still the pyramid.  First built in 2700 BCE, pyramids reflect that most natural and easily recognizable natural element, the sun, by building a structure that represents the descending rays of light. These ancient structures are still being replicated today with the Louvre and Kazakhstan’s Palace of Peace and Reconciliation.

Bio Architecture: Designing with Nature in Mind is written by freelance writer Shireen Qudosi.  Follow her on Twitter @ShireenQ or email her at shireen.qudosi@hotmail.com

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4 comments

karen ho fatt October 31, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Interesting spin! Although beautiful and interesting to look at, these structures must have cost a pretty penny. Beyond the norm for the average person to afford though. I saw the Shell house when In Isla myself and took my lot of photos- incredible.
also another consideration is architectural controls, unfortunately we would not be able to build them in average neighbourhoods.

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Head Health Nutter October 31, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Hey Karen, what are architectural controls??

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karen ho fatt November 2, 2011 at 2:02 am

The developer of a new subdivision for example sets what his housing should look like in terms of exterior finishes- style color etc ; a guideline in other words so that a cohesive look is achieved in the community.

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Head Health Nutter November 3, 2011 at 11:41 am

Very good to know, thanks Karen.

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