Biomimicry has applications in many areas of science, technology, and art; and architecture is no exception. Biological design has had and will continue to have a major role to play in this field. Just as nature's design is meant to withstand even the toughest challenges and endure great lengths of time, so will our architecture be if we choose to mimic nature. Two men, in particular, understood this concept and incorporated it into much of their uniquely creative architecture.
Antoni Gaudí (1852 - 1926)
Antoni Gaudí was a great Spanish architect who lived during the late 19th and early 20th century. Although he is not very well known today, Gaudí created some of the most beautiful and sturdy architectural designs on earth. What was he inspired by? God's natural design, of course!
"Those who look for the laws of Nature as a support for their new works collaborate with the [C]reator," Gaudí once stated.
His works reflected his beliefs. Gaudí's architecture flowed in a design that was all but organic; you would almost expect some of his structures to come to life. As you can see in the images below, Gaudí used natural designs for both beauty and functionality in his works. According to those who have visited his creations, you simply cannot understand just how incredible his works are until you have been there and experienced them.
Gaudí's many famous works can be found in the Barcelona area of Spain, and probably his most famous project, La Sagrada Família, towers above the skyline there. Construction on La Sagrada Família began in 1882 and continues to this day. In that sense, it is literally a living, breathing cathedral.
What's more, Gaudí rose up from inauspicious beginnings. From the age of six, Gaudí had rheumatoid arthritis, which influenced him to stay in solitude. As fate would have it, this solitude most likely initiated and nourished Gaudi's great love of nature and his analytical abilities. For example, Gaudí would go on walks to reduce his rheumatism while simultaneously enjoying and observing the many qualities of nature.
He would later, of course, incorporate the natural shapes and angles he loved into his architecture. In fact, almost all of his works have some sort of biological look to them. In particular, he incorporated the parabolic arch, plant-like or shell-like shapes, and a certain natural flow into his buildings.
The following is just a glimpse of Antoni Gaudí's outstanding works.
La Sagrada Família
La Sagrada Família
Park Güell (Gaudí's broken tile in Catalan style)
Gaudí's other works include Bellesguard, the Monastery of Montserrat, the Cathedral of Mallorca, La Casa Mila, Casa Calvet, the Palacio Episcopal de Astorga, the Casa Batlló, Casa Vicens, and others.
Antoni Gaudí was no doubt a genius in both the field of biomimicry and architecture. It just goes to show that the clever designs and functions of nature can go hand in hand with any domain of science, industry, or art. You just need a little imagination.
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Frank Lloyd Wright (1867 - 1959)
Frank Lloyd Wright was probably the most inventive American architect of the 20th century, and his innovative, naturally sound architecture continues to influence us to this day.
Unlike Gaudí, Wright's dream was not so much to mimic nature but to synthesize his architecture with it. In other words, Wright was a pioneer of what is called "organic architecture," or constructing homes are in tune with nature (rather than against it). "No house should ever be on any hill or on anything. It should be of the hill, belonging to it, so hill and house could live together each the happier for the other," Wright once said.
Although Wright's architecture is more geometrical and not as "flowing" as pure biomimetic architecture, his idea of making your home a part of your natural surroundings was (and is) groundbreaking. All throughout his career, Wright built houses all over the United States and in Japan as well.
During his 91 year life, Wright completed about 430 projects (he engaged in over 1,000). The following are just a few of them.
Fallingwater (Mill Run, PA)
Fallingwater (Guest House)
Auldbrass (Stable Complex)
Broad Margin (SC)
Imperial Hotel (Tokyo, Japan)
Church of the Holy Cross (Sedona, Arizona)
Beth Sholom Synagogue (Beth Sholom, PA)
Wright's other superb works include Taliesin West, the Price Center, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
Frank Lloyd Wright is considered to be "the greatest American architect of all time," and his works have proven to be sturdy, beautiful, and surprisingly modern-looking even to the present day. Thus, his belief in a simplistic, affordable, and organic building style has proven to be effective and worth pursuing.
In the end, all of his unique works serve as an inspiration to both architects and dreamers today, and they likely will for many more generations to come.
"Beautiful buildings are more than scientific. They are true organisms, spiritually conceived; works of art, using the best technology by inspiration rather than the idiosyncrasies of mere taste or any averaging by the committee mind." - Frank Lloyd Wright
"The good building is not one that hurts the landscape, but one which makes the landscape more beautiful than it was before the building was built."- Frank Lloyd Wright
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