Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Architecture in Harmony with Nature
What could be a more economical housing situation than one you carry around on your back? I take it as a good sign that several snails took up residence in our garden, as well as a family of house sparrows in our bird house.
And what could be a more primal need than that of shelter? To Viennese architect Friedrich Hundertwasser (1928-2000), buildings meant protection and security, but also color and whimsy. One could argue he held the mole as the father of all architects, admiring its predilection to using the ground in establishing shelter. Hundertwasser began integrating nature into his buildings through window plantings, rooftop gardens, and earth roofs. The earth roof is incredibly efficient, using the earth's own cooling and heating properties to help regulate temperature. Achieved on a large scale in his Blumau Hot Springs Village in Styria, he was ahead of his time in promoting a more integrated notion of architecture: one that connects to nature, not distances people from it. This idea is gaining traction. Yesterday's New York Times had an article about the possibilities of using green roofing on low income housing in the Bronx. It seems that those living in the high rise buildings really appreciated the increased dose of greenery and the decrease in allergens in the building.
After years of designing homes with no sense of climate context nor direct connection to the earth itself, integrating those elements into the design of the building seems natural enough.