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Naturalism as the philosophical belief

Paper type: Essay
Pages: 10 (2473 words)
Categories: Architecture, Belief, Biology, Evolution, Life, Nature, Science
Downloads: 18
Views: 2

Naturalism is the philosophical belief that everything arises from natural properties and causes, and supernatural or spiritual explanations are excluded or discounted. Adherents of naturalism assert that natural laws are the rules that govern the structure and behavior of the natural universe [1]. In the twentieth century, naturalism has had a great impact on architecture. It is the stimulator of organic, green, sustainable, and ecological architecture, which are different movements in the field.

1. Introduction

Extensive biological researches and the evolution of natural sciences in the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth were the contributing factors to the domination of naturalism.

Books like Buffon’s “Natural History” that was published in 1749 discussed the theory of evolution. Xavier Bichat’s “Physiological Research in Life and Death” that was published in 1800 introduced the term ‘organic’ for the first time in printed publications [2].

The world’s first publication about the evolution theory is written by Lamarck.

He disagrees with Buffon’s theory by stating that the environmental changes cause evolution. In his book, published in 1800, Lamarck introduces the term ‘biology’ [3]. In the same year Goethe brings up the term ‘morphology’. He applies his ideas about his theory on art, architecture, active dynamic shaping in all living organisms. He also explains morphology more by exploring changes in the shapes of non-living things like rocks and fossils.

Darwinism is another theory of biological evolution. It states that all species of organisms have evolved through natural selection [4]. The Darwinian Theory included the broad concept of evolution and gained general scientific acceptance after Darwin published “On the Origin of Species” in 1859. In “On the Origin of Species”, Darwin does not rule out Lamarckism as a supplementary mechanism to natural selection. He calls his Lamarckian hypothesis ‘pangenesis’ [5]. He explains it in the final chapter of his book “Variation in Plants and Animals under Domestication” after he describes numerous examples to demonstrate what he considered to be the inheritance of acquired characteristics.

Lamarck claims that changing surroundings changes living organisms. These changes are then transmitted by heredity. Darwin, however, emphasizes that change is always spontaneous and by chance. He continues on with the idea of “survival of the fittest”, where the fittest of all adapts to the environmental conditions and survives the changing environment. This created a debate among biologists for more than 50 years about whether form follows function or vice versa. The theory of evolution and modern biological researches are considered the main contributing factors that have deviated architecture from classic to modern. This is through aspiring to become similar to nature and its forms as well as adapting to it.

2. Methodology

This paper studies architectural movements influenced by nature and its features. It identifies their stimulators and development regarding the design processes, materials, motifs, and basic ordering principles. Architectural movements are classified into these different categories based on the characteristics they share.

The different categories are labeled such that a comparison can be easily made. Since different styles may share some characteristics, the labels may overlap and the architectural designs could even be classified into more than one category.

This research identifies:

? different architectural styles influenced by nature;

? characteristics that distinguish different styles;

? examples of architects who are associated with each style;

? examples of buildings associated with each style;

? contributing factors to the development of each style;

? The relationship between changes in biological theories and their corresponding changes in architecture.

My aim is to critically examine the notion of naturalism by rereading architectural movements, influenced by nature and biological theories, such as terms, models, projects, and building. This is for better understanding of the present discourse.

3. Different Architectural Styles:

3.1. Organic Architecture

The organic theory is considered one of the first trends that have deviated architecture from its classic trends to modern trends. This is through aspiring to become similar to nature and its forms as well as adapting to it. Organic architecture is one that enhances harmony between human shelter and the built environment. This is through design approaches that are well integrated with their location, such that buildings, furnishings, and surroundings become a unified, interrelated composition.

The main result of this architectural movement is the Sullivanesque style, named after Louis Sullivan. His interest in nature appears in his ideas and work especially with his slogan ‘form follows function’. He claims that the function of a building is the reason for its existence. Its design is generated from and reflects its function.

The large impact of naturalism shows in Frank Lloyd Wright’s work. He was embedding the term “organic architecture” into the all his design processes, materials, and basic ordering principles such that they repeated themselves throughout the buildings as a whole. The idea of organic architecture doesn’t only refer to the building. Not only is the “literal relationship to natural surroundings, but how the buildings” are geometrically designed is carefully thought about as if it and the environment were unified.

Wright was articulated by his cryptic style of writing as well. His statement says: “So here I stand before you preaching organic architecture: declaring organic architecture to be the modern ideal and the teaching so much needed if we are to see the whole of life, and to now serve the whole of life, holding no traditions essential to the great tradition. Nor cherishing any preconceived form fixing upon us either past, present or future, but instead exalting the simple laws of common sense or of super sense if you prefer determining form by way of the nature of materials” [6].

“Using Nature as our basis for design, a building or design must grow, as nature grows, from the inside out. Most architects design their buildings as a shell and force their way inside. Nature grows from the idea of a seed and reaches out to its surroundings. A building thus, is akin to an organism and mirrors the beauty and complexity of nature” [7].

A well-known example of organic architecture is falling water, the residence Frank Lloyd Wright designed for the Kaufmann family in rural Pennsylvania [8]. Wright had many choices to locate a home on this large site, but chose to place it directly over the waterfall creek. This created a close noisy dialog with the rushing water and the steep site. The horizontal striations of stone masonry with daring cantilevers of colored beige concrete blended with the native rock outcroppings and the wooded environment.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City occupied Wright for 16 years (1943-1959) and is probably his most recognized masterpiece. The building rises as a warm beige spiral from its site. Its interior is similar to the inside of a seashell. Its unique central geometry is meant to allow visitors to easily experience Guggenheim’s collection of paintings by taking an elevator to the top level and then viewing artworks by walking down the slowly descending, central spiral ramp, the floor of which is embedded with circular shapes and triangular light fixtures to complement the geometric nature of the structure.

We now know that architects who have been affected by organic theories have taken two paths. One deals with the building as an organism that grows and evolves based on the needs of users and the compatibility with all elements of nature, and the anomalies on the surrounding environment. The second uses formal and functional features, inspired by organisms like plants with their roots, stem, and leaves; or organisms like snails, fungus and mushroom [9].

3.2. Metabolism

Metabolism is a post war Japanese architectural movement that fused ideas about architectural mega structures with those of organic biological growth. Its first international exposition was during CIAM’s 1959 meeting and its ideas were tentatively tested by students from Kenzo Tange’s MIT studio [10].During the preparation of the 1960 T?ky? World Design Conference, a group of young architects and designers, including Kiyonori Kikutake, Kisho Kurokawa, and Fumihiko Maki, prepared the publication of the metabolism manifesto. They were influenced by a wide variety of sources including the Marxist theories and biological processes. Their manifesto was a series of four essays titled: Ocean City, Space City, Towards Group Form, and Material and Man. They also included designs for vast cities that floated on the oceans and plug in capsule towers that could incorporate organic growth. Although the World Design Conference gave the metabolism architects exposure on the international stage, their ideas remained theoretical [11].

Metabolists develop their organic schemes to respond to changing activities. Metabolism is the belief that design and technology should express the vitality of living organisms. The basis of the ideas adopted by metabolism architects results from the idea that everything in life changes and is altered by rapid technological developments. As a result of the changing human needs, buildings must adapt their spaces to the new activities. This requires them to be able to change and grow as a living organism. The icon of Metabolism, Kurokawa’s Nakagin Capsule Tower, was erected in the Ginza district of T?ky? in 1972 and completed in just 30 days. It was prefabricated in Shiga Prefecture in a factory that normally built shipping containers. It is constructed of 140 capsules plugged into two cores that are 11 and 13 stories in height [12].

3.3. Mega structure

Mega structure is also an architectural concept popularised in the 1960s where a city has a single building or a relatively small number of interconnected buildings. Such arcology is popular in science fiction. Mega structures often play a part in the plot or setting of science fiction movies and books.

The idea of mega structure is like the natural evolution of the organic idea with respect to growth and development. Different parts of the same organism work in the same mechanism as flowers, leaves, and fruits that grow from one tree. Huge technological development in the 1960s helped with the development of that idea. The first two definitions of megastructure were given by Fumihiko Maki in “Investigations in Collective Form”. He defined it saying that “the artificial landscape is ‘made possible by present day technology,’ but its giant infrastructure is supposed to serve as ‘the great hill on which Italian towns were built'”[13]. Maki also mentions the definition of megastructures that was given by his Professor, Kenzo Tange. He states that it “is a form of architectural forms, the Mass human scale and self serving, separate units gathered rapidly changing during the larger structure” [14].

Early examples of these constructions and spatial forms were held in Montreal Expo Canada (1967). The exhibition of these facilities could be extended to cover the whole exhibition hall in one giant building. It is an example of spatial structures of classical history. It is designed to be a number of spaces adaptable to any activity and linked by escalators, making a giant urban space in multiple storey’s. Technological development includes several factors like construction and structural elements of central capsules. These created huge cumulative and mixed major units and sub units. All of these underlines the strong influence of organic theory and expressed by cutting edge technology.

3.4. Eco architecture

In the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century the human consciousness has globally identified the effects of the industrial revolution on the global environment. The concept of environmental preservation has become mainstream [15]. Hence, architects had to take a stance. They compromised architecture, urban context, environmental fabrics, and therefore, the concept of appropriateness [16]. Pressure on governments by active groups and green parties in Europe and America has increased especially in the 1970s and 1980s. Scientist state that water problems dropped to less than half with population increase, particularly in the Middle East, Africa and India [17].

In the late two decades, a set of architectural trends emerged. These try to sync with the natural variables in order to achieve the concept of sustainable development as defined by “The World Commission on Environment and Development” in 1992. Its report (our common future) aims to get the needs of the present without compromising the future generation’s right in finding needs [18]. The most important of sustainability objectives, which tends to preserve the architectural heritage, is to be able to access managed and maintained buildings under the socio-economic conditions. The most important thing of these features is to be compatible with its surroundings and environment, conserve natural sources, and blend with all successful art forms. This encourages individuals and the society to preserve, respect and make good use of the environment. Sustainability popped due to architectural treatments to local environmental conditions. Eco architecture is therefore also called green architecture. It requires a lot to keep the energy and biological comfort and take advantage of available natural resources with the use of environmental technology [19].

Green architecture is inspired by plants and their natural life cycle and their impact on man and the environment together as they convert carbon dioxide to oxygen and enhance the environment quality [20]. The buildings are hence also useful to man and the environment. Some buildings even have a full system called “the Building Life Cycle”. Green architecture uses natural resources like the sun and air. It provides people’s demands on public health and comfort. It reduces costs and increases productivity in all architectural spaces. It also increases environmental awareness in construction, water consumption and wastewater recycle [21]. Green architecture uses architectural elements to allow the entry of air into spaces. It also takes advantage of the sun in lighting and ventilation by using solar tubes. This reduces the need for electric power generation and hence reduces pollution [22].

Norman Foster’s architecture has a sophisticated influence on nature. Foster deviated from the traditional design solution in skyscrapers that used to have ground floor offices wrapped around one central building. He designed the Commerzbank Headquarters in Frankfurt (1991 97). Foster has designed the building such that it can open to allow natural air to enter. The central atrium also allows natural air to ascend. Sky Gardens also provide high floors and set a fixed rate of natural ventilation. In order to obtain maximum benefit from natural ventilation techniques, computers are used to monitor weather conditions and adjust the size of the air inside the building and change the temperature during the day Norman Foster’s Swiss Reinsurance Headquarters Building Company in London provides natural ventilation on most days of the year. It also reduces energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions through natural convection [23].

Under the increased awareness of the negative effects of environmental pollution and the resulting problems, naturalism peaked at the end of the twentieth century and the first decade of the 21st century. This led to the emergence of the thought of sustainable architecture that is compatible with the environment [24]. This is to compensate the environmental destruction resulting from advanced technology.

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Naturalism as the philosophical belief. (2019, Dec 08). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/naturalism-as-the-philosophical-belief-essay

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