Architecture in Nature

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Animals and insects have been able to develop solutions to various problems in nature that are still faced by the humans. The type of structures that these animals/ insects build has a varied structural system and form. Their achievements in membrane design, ventilation, insulation, water proofing, drainage etc. are immense. [1]

The reasons why all creatures build are to protect themselves from the physical environment and from the other species. So, the architecture of these creatures should be strong enough to protect them from other species and also should be resistant to the physical environment. [2]

To protect from the other species or predators, these creatures build in such a way that either they submerge with the background or look like something that can be mistaken for an object that is not food. Protection for a termite hill from predators is done totally by its material and that of the nest tube built by weaver bird is done by its structure. [3]

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Temperature control can be seen by comparing the nests of humming birds in the low lands and the ones in mountainous regions. The ones in low lands have shallow nests without feather lining and the ones in the mountainous regions have deep nests with feather lining. The stats show that when the temperature ranging was from 16- 27deg. C outside, inside it was cooler and almost 6 deg. C lesser. [4]

Even the termite hills have a good thermal insulation due to their thick walls that do not allow major fluctuations in the interior conditions. Experiments have shown that though the interior temperature fluctuated with the outer temperature, it was constantly high and damped. [5]

Observations have shown that spider webs in shaded areas faced north-south and those in well illuminated areas facing east-west. These orientations were majorly to get maximum amount of light to heat them in the shaded areas and the orientation was so in the illuminated areas to avoid over heating so they had more time to capture their prey. [6]

In areas with high rainfall, especially the tropical areas, the major issue with the species there is the management of water and protection from flooding. [7]

Like, the termite mounds are like rising columns and capped like a mushroom on the top. And a series of downward directed projections facilitate the run off of water. The main living area is not at the base of the structure, it is well above the level of flood water. [8]

Connection between the creatures and nature can be clearly seen in how they build, like a bird’s nest tells us about the climatic conditions of the area where it is. It is well accepted that some of the architectural wonders belong to the animal kingdom, for example, beehive is a perfect mix of geometry and structure. [9]

Animals are responsible for some of the most impressive architecture architectural design. They construct in order to transform their environment, improve their quality of life, and provide safety and security. [10]

Most of the buildings now a day are cubical in structure. However, it is not the most ideal in context to nature because it has a very rare occurrence in nature, so it is not the most efficient or stable structure. The most stable structure is a diamond structure that has a tetrahedron structure that is something like pyramids. [11]

Termites have built the tallest of all non manmade structures with using simple materials like earth and saliva. It is remarkable to see that these structures have marvelous thermal conditioning and ventilation. [12]

Everything in nature is created by a perfect blend of geometry and free flowing forms. The scope of learning from nature is so much that it can not be understood by one person, but it also doesn’t mean that we stop our endeavor to explore and learn from nature. [13]

The geometry in nature starts from a very basic level. The diatoms in the seawaters, snow crystals etc. Snow crystals have a very crisp geometry. They have a start like structure and go on to form hexagons. Even with such a crisp geometry, no two snowflakes have ever been alike. [14]

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In nature there are very little evidences of cube as geometry, because when it comes to the stability factor, cube is one of the worst ideas. [15]

In nature, we would broadly classify structure into two: the structure that makes the various components of nature, that is plants and animals; and the other is the structure created by these components. The major in these is the one created by animals, or the animal architecture. [16]

The tallest structures in the animal world are built by termites, who are considered to be the master architects of the creature world. The largest termite mounds are found in Australia and Africa. If termites were of the size of an average human, then the relative height of a termite mounds would go up to 2000ft, which is almost 180 storeys that would be the tallest building in the world. [17]

The Australian and African variety of termite towers is designed for cooling. These are made up of thick walls to retain moisture in and heat outside. There are ducts and channels that run through the areas of mound that walls that are porous or have tiny ventilation holes. These channels and ducts are for circulation of air and stale air exhaust. The lower most portion of these mounds is the living and working areas of termites that is the coolest area. [18]

Architecture gives pattern to structure and structure to pattern. [19]

Nature is the open book of knowledge lifted to cosmic proportions. It is a force of intelligence that dwarfs human comprehension. A force that can reveal the solutions to problems that have plagued mankind since the beginning of time. [20]

Nature is the supreme architect and designer of all living things. And it has had 5 billion years time to practice- to evolve and perfect its designs. It is nature that can create structures that can resist forces thousands of times its own weight. It is nature that can create self-regulating energy systems that need no mechanical power for cooling and heating. It is nature that can create structures that adapt and change according to changing conditions. [21]

By working with nature, not against it, one can make ingenious designs that cannot be damaged by trying to resist the extremes of nature. [22]

The Yellow Tree House Restaurant, New Zealand was designed by a firm named Pacific Environments. It is inspired through many forms found in nature -the chrysalis/cocoon protecting the emerging butterfly/moth, perhaps an onion/garlic clove form hung out to dry. It 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 centre.[23]

It is a simple oval form wrapped ‘organically’ around the trunk and structurally tied at top and bottom, with a circular plan that is split apart on the axis with the rear floor portion raised. [24]

Masdar City Center, UAE, is an upcoming project 17 kms from Abu Dhabi and is inspired by unflowers that always face the sun. It was designed by Laboratory for Visionary Architecture (LAVA). They are giant umbrellas, with a design based on the principles of sunflowers that will provide moveable shade in the day, store heat, then close and release the heat at night. It isthe world’s first zero carbon, zero waste city powered entirely by renewable energy sources. The solar powered ‘sunflower’ umbrellas capture the sun’s rays during the day, fold at night releasing the stored heat, and open again the next day. They follow the projection of the sun to provide continuous shade during the day and can be used anywhere in the world including deserts. [25]

Lotus Temple was built in 1986, in New Delhi. The temple gives the impression of a half-open lotus flower, afloat, surrounded by its leaves. Each component of the temple is repeated nine times.The Lotus temple reaches a height of more than 40m. One can see 27 giant white petals of marble in a lotus shape, springing from nine pools and walkways. All around the lotus are walkways with beautiful curved balustrades, bridges and stairs, which surround the nine pools representing the floating leaves of the lotus. Apart from serving an obvious aesthetic function, the pools also help ventilate the building. The lotus, as seen from outside, has three sets of leaves or petals, all of which are made out of thin concrete shells. The outermost set of nine petals, called the ‘entrance leaves’, open outwards and form the nine entrances all around the outer annular hall. The next set of nine petals, called the ‘outer leaves’, point inwards. The entrance and outer leaves together cover the outer hall. The third set of nine petals, called the ‘inner leaves’, appears to be partly closed. Only the tips open out, somewhat like a partly opened bud. This portion, which rises above the rest, forms the main structure housing the central hall. The top of the structure is a glass and steel roofing as the lotus is open at the top. [26]

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Architect Fariborz Sahba chose lotus as a symbol for the Bahai temple, as a belief in potential purity of human spirit and as a metaphor for truth that out of ignorance and violence we will arise to create a new age of peace and universal brotherhood. [27]

Referencing:

[1] Dissertation: ARCHITECTURE IN NATURE: LESSONS FOR HUMANS Pg No. 2

[2] Dissertation: ARCHITECTURE IN NATURE: LESSONS FOR HUMANS Pg No. 18

[3] Dissertation: ARCHITECTURE IN NATURE: LESSONS FOR HUMANS Pg No. 18

[4] Dissertation: ARCHITECTURE IN NATURE: LESSONS FOR HUMANS Pg No. 20

[5] Dissertation: ARCHITECTURE IN NATURE: LESSONS FOR HUMANS Pg No. 21

[6] Dissertation: ARCHITECTURE IN NATURE: LESSONS FOR HUMANS Pg No. 22

[7] Dissertation: ARCHITECTURE IN NATURE: LESSONS FOR HUMANS Pg No. 23

[8] Dissertation: ARCHITECTURE IN NATURE: LESSONS FOR HUMANS Pg No. 24

[9] Dissertation: SYSTEMS IN NATURE THEIR IMPLICATION ON ARCHITECTURE Pg No. 2

[10] Dissertation: SYSTEMS IN NATURE THEIR IMPLICATION ON ARCHITECTURE Pg No. 3

[11] Dissertation: SYSTEMS IN NATURE THEIR IMPLICATION ON ARCHITECTURE Pg No. 4

[12] Dissertation: SYSTEMS IN NATURE THEIR IMPLICATION ON ARCHITECTURE Pg No. 5

[13] Dissertation: SYSTEMS IN NATURE THEIR IMPLICATION ON ARCHITECTURE Pg No. 15

[14] Dissertation: SYSTEMS IN NATURE THEIR IMPLICATION ON ARCHITECTURE Pg No. 16

[15] Dissertation: SYSTEMS IN NATURE THEIR IMPLICATION ON ARCHITECTURE Pg No. 17

[16] Dissertation: SYSTEMS IN NATURE THEIR IMPLICATION ON ARCHITECTURE Pg No. 26

[17] Dissertation: SYSTEMS IN NATURE THEIR IMPLICATION ON ARCHITECTURE Pg No. 31

[18] Dissertation: SYSTEMS IN NATURE THEIR IMPLICATION ON ARCHITECTURE Pg No. 32

[19] Architect Eugene Tsui, http://www.tdrinc.com/architecture.html

[20] Architect Eugene Tsui, http://www.tdrinc.com/media.html

[21] Architect Eugene Tsui, http://www.tdrinc.com/media.html

[22] Architect Eugene Tsui, http://www.tdrinc.com/media.html

[23] http://www.archdaily.com/16445/yellow-treehouse-restaurant-pacific-environments/

[24] http://www.archdaily.com/16445/yellow-treehouse-restaurant-pacific-environments/

[25] http://www.newarchitecture.biz/2010/11/masdar-city-center-lava-laboratory-for.html

[26] http://www.architecture-student.com/architecture/lotus-temple-delhi-innovation-in-architecture/

[27] http://www.sahbaarchitect.com/