Organic Architecture - Interpretation with examples

Sustainable Architecture Dated:  Nov. 16, 2015
submit to reddit
0 Comment(s)
Falling Waters, Pennsylvania

"So here I stand before you preaching
organic architecture...
not cherishing any preconceived form
fixing upon us either past, present or future,
but instead exalting the simple laws
of common sense...

-Frank Lloyd Wright, An Organic Architecture, 1939

Another interesting and much needed contribution by the American architect, interior designer, writer and educator, Frank Lloyd Wright – ORGANIC ARCHITECTURE. According to him,

The solution of every problem is contained within itself. Its plan, form and character are determined by the nature of the site, the nature of the materials used, the nature of the system using them, the nature of the life concerned and the purpose of the building itself.

Frank Lloyd WrightFigure 1 – Frank Lloyd Wright
Source –

And this is probably what drove him towards creating this form of architecture, which could probably have answers to all our problems. The mere fact that nature has been here for so long, evolving time and again, adapting itself to the changes created by itself, for itself, to sustain, proves its legibility as the ultimate solution to everything that has been going wrong.

Organic Architecture is not a style of imitation, but rather, a reinterpretation of Nature's principles to build forms more natural than nature itself.1 Wright used this to describe his philosophy of architecture as an extension of the teachings of his mentor, Louis Sullivan. He also changed the phrase ‘form follows function’ to ‘form and function are one’ claiming Nature as the ultimate model.

The WaffleFigure 2 – The Waffle
Source –

As born and inspired from Nature, Organic Architecture involves a certain respect for natural materials, for instance, wood must look like wood; structures should blend into their surroundings, meaning a house should be of the hill and not on it. Moreover, according to this concept, an honest portrayal of the function of a building is a must, which means a bank should look like a bank, not like a Greek temple.

Just like Nature grows every minute of every hour of every day, 365 days a year, Organic Architecture emphasizes on the growth of every design, from the inside out. Considering a seed, that grows from the inside and reaches out to its surroundings, a building should also mirror the beauty and complexity of Nature, which is unlike what most architects have been doing today, designing their buildings as a shell and forcing their way inside.

Speaking of Organic Architecture, there are a few principles that its followers swear by:

  • Good design understands that for anything to be truly and purely beautiful, it should possess SIMPLICITY and REPOSE, and not fall prey to changing trends and fashion. It must maintain its own course and the arrangement of the design should be such that taking away even one miniscule part would destroy the whole entity.
  • Good design should respond to every UNIQUE circumstance. Having said this, it creates the probability of having as many design forms as there are individuals.
  • A building should GROW from the inside out just as Nature grows, surrounded by the forces that surround it.
  • The nature of the MATERIALS should be expressed as inherent to their quality, throughout the building.
  • A certain amount of INTEGRITY and HONESTY is required from our buildings, as we do from people. Currently rating a little low on this ground, false or fake materials and techniques are only carrying us towards false architecture and hollow creativity.

Going by these principles, listing here a few iconic examples of Organic Architecture:

    It seems only fair that the first example on this list should be by the creator of the concept himself, Frank Lloyd Wright. Built in the 1930s as a holiday home for the Kauffmann family, this structure couldn’t possibly fit the idea any better.
Falling Waters, PennsylvaniaFigure 3 – Falling Waters, Pennsylvania
Source –
  • The Kauffmanns were initially disappointed by the design as it sat on the waterfall, rather than what they had asked for – views of the beautiful waterbody. However, they eventually came around as the house grew to be one with the surroundings.
    This holiday villa in Karuizawa, Japan was created by the ARTechnic Architects in the year 2008. It could well owe something to Wright’s Fallingwater as it fits perfectly into its natural surroundings, while also echoing nature in its design.
Shell, JapanFigure 4 – Shell, Japan
Source –
  • According to the architects, ‘being in sync with nature isn’t about yielding to nature – it’s about coexistence. The existence of the structure depends on its power to endure nature.’ 2
    'Trees are constantly hovering in the consciousness of any architect. They're both our nemesis - how the hell do they do that? we wonder - and our saviour - the camouflage we plant when buildings go wrong.'
The Mobile OrchardFigure 5 – The Mobile Orchard
Source –
  • Incepted by Atmos in the year 2013, this is one interesting example. The Mobile Orchard is a project that toured London examining the portrayal of the natural form of trees as street furniture. Like the best trees, Mobile Orchard is climbable and endowed with a concealed stairway that goes beyond various seating niches leading to a sky throne.
submit to reddit