Why Nature Should be a Co-Author in Architectural Projects

Dealing with the context of a project’s site is an essential part of architecture, be it by denying or incorporating preexisting elements and the environment’s conditions in the design. However, understanding what lies around as an active agent of the decisions and space organization goes beyond simply considering the good views, natural ventilation, solar orientation, etc; it is about seeing these conditions as co-authors.

These cases are most notable when practices think of the architecture's surrounding environment as an active agent. 

Office Casagrande Laboratory, headed by Finish architect Marco Casagrande, proposes an architecture that acts as a mediator in the relationship between people and nature. In his descriptions, we frequently see the idea of nature as a co-author in the design process. This is given as the starting point for propositions that reconnect contemporary society and natural elements. These strategies often take advantage of these natural resources to create new places.

From an approach that highlights the nature-body relation, the collective chooses a few elements, such as water vapor, vegetation, wood, among others, to feed the relational sense that the project intends to establish among its residents, the building and the site. Ruin Academy / Marco Casagrande, © AdDa, Tsai Ming-Hui. Ruin Academy / Marco Casagrande. Image: © AdDa, Tsai Ming-Hui

Altogether, this posture gives the practice’s production a close connection between the design and site analysis, particularly when it comes to reading the local potentialities and elements that can heighten new tensions in the nature-body relation, inside the specific scope of each proposal.

Section - "Ruin Academy" by Marco Casagrande

To explore the relations between the body and nature doesn’t necessarily mean to mime the Renaissance traditions that established natural harmony, geometry and proportion parameters as references. Often, it is about incorporating nature as a permanent active force in the design process, one that brings characteristics that can be richly explored, such as textures, colors, temperatures, and contrasts. This is evident in some projects that took advantage of their very specific locations to establish these relations, as is the case with the Leça Swimming Pools by Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza Vieira.

The built part of the project blends into the preexistent elements when it comes to color, texture and materialness. Tidal Pools of Leça da Palmeira / Alvaro Siza. Image: © Fernando Guerra | FG+SG

Considering the rock formations of the coast and the tidal dynamics, the construction sometimes relates to the evident human intervention, and other times to a broad reading of the landscape, as the chosen material blends into the environment.

Forest Temple / Marco Casagrande. Image: © Lina Pilibaviciute

The main issue in these cases is to adopt a very specific relationship in comparison to other initiatives that deal with nature, such as biomimetic architecture or sustainable projects. It is about placing architecture and its authors under a broader perspective of contact and teamwork with the interferences and opportunities given by the environment.

Spaces that consider the place’s dynamics in its design also deal with nature as an active agent. Muuratsalo Experimental House / Alvar Aalto. Image: © Nico Saieh

This comprehension of a place helps to create the notion that architecture cannot be seen strictly as an isolated element but as an interaction between everyday needs and its natural environment.

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Cite: Daudén, Julia. "Why Nature Should be a Co-Author in Architectural Projects" [A natureza como coautora em projetos de arquitetura] 15 Dec 2018. ArchDaily. (Trans. Cavallaro, Fernanda) Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/907679/why-nature-should-be-a-co-author-in-architectural-projects> ISSN 0719-8884

Tidal Pools of Leça da Palmeira / Alvaro Siza. Image: © Fernando Guerra | FG+SG


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