Architecture and Nature: How Architecture Can Draw Inspiration From Natural Elements
Nature is often used as an inspirational source for architecture. Whether from its shapes, the extraction and use of its materials, or even the incorporation of physical and chemical processes in the technologies used, it is always relevant to look for relations between the built environment and the natural environment. Of the many ecosystems present on planet Earth, the oceans represent most of the surface and hold stories, mystiques, symbols and shapes that can be referenced in architecture.
A historical object of deep interest to humanity, the oceans represent about 71% of the earth’s surface and 97% of the hydrosphere, covering the largest area of the planet’s surface with regions not yet explored, which was a reason to be portrayed with mysticism and fantasy for centuries. Apart from fanciful reading about this ecosystem, the oceans are largely responsible for life on earth, being linked to the maintenance of the planet’s temperature and also to the availability of oxygen, wind currents and many other natural phenomena, in addition to being valued by its natural landscape and relaxing ambience.
From the fascination with maritime mysteries, to the appreciation of natural landscapes, architects often come across projects that manage to draw inspiration for the built environment from that fascination, whether from its proximity and possibility of contemplation, from the derivation of architectural forms, from the reproduction of signs or symbols, or even from techniques or natural elements present in the projects. Here is a selection inspired by the great oceans:
There are many ways to express your reference within the fields of architecture. While some projects are justified based on more subjective or conceptual references, others seek a more direct inspiration in natural elements, as in the case of projects that find their source in the forms of nature. Vertical Ocean by Maaps Architects, the Museum of the Ocean and Surf by Steven Holl Architects, in collaboration with Solange Fabião, and also A Voz do Mar by Ressano Garcia, are three projects that start from their proximity to the beaches to reproduce the shapes of the oceans in their architecture.
Vertical Ocean / Maaps Architects
Museum of Ocean and Surf / Steven Holl Architects + Solange Fabiao
A voz do Mar Chamber of Sound Installation / Ressano Garcia
Others, on the other hand, do not reproduce exactly the object of inspiration, but take advantage of its proximity to ensure its implementation, and the dynamics of the program, considering the accesses and the framing of views, for example, such as the Care House of the Wind Chimneys by Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP, the Ocean Beach Comfort Station by Kevin deFreitas Architects, or the Dolphin Sands Studio by Matt Williams Architects.
Care House of the Wind Chimneys / Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP
Ocean Beach Comfort Station / Kevin de Freitas Architects
Dolphin Sands Studio / Matt Williams Architects
Another way of referencing nature is through the reproduction of specific elements or symbols, in architecture or design. In the case of the oceans, for example, the Ocean Park Marriott Hotel by Aedas, in addition to inspiring its shape in the sea waves, also placed aquariums and other decorative and artistic elements that refer to the maritime environment, as well as Restaurante NoMad by Lucas Lage Arquitetura, while Musubi House by Craig Steely Architecture is inspired by an object that subjectively refers to the sea: a boat.
Ocean Park Marriott Hotel / Aedas
Musubi House / Craig Steely Architecture
Restaurante NoMad / Lucas Lage Arquitetura
Finally, in addition to formal and aesthetic devices, an important way of designing in harmony with nature is to incorporate technical solutions that take into account the natural dynamics of the place where it is being implanted, managing to have a minimal impact on the natural environment, like the projects for Punta Colorada III Shelter by TATÚ Arquitectura, The Wandering Walls Bed and Breakfast by XRANGE Architects or Villa La Mediterranee by Stefano Boeri Architetti.