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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.