Built Nature: When Architecture Challenges Human Scale

Built Nature: When Architecture Challenges Human Scale

Going beyond human scale is not a novelty. For centuries, builders, engineers, and architects have been creating monumental edifices to mark spirituality or political power. Larger than life palaces, governmental buildings, or temples have always attracted people’s admiration and reverence, nourishing the still not fully comprehensible obsession with large scale builds.

Nowadays, some of the largest and most impressive structures relate less to religious or governmental functions and seem to be turning towards more cultural programs. Most importantly though, today’s grandiose works are generally and openly imitative of Nature.

© Tianpei Zeng© Kai WangCourtesy of THAD© Rasmus Hjortshoj+ 20

As the spiritual quality of spaces is hard to attain inherently, architects gravitate their experimentation toward natural imitation. The result is quite often massive bolder-like structures, mountainous buildings, or solid flowing rivers whose names relay the natural element itself.

© Tianpei Zeng
© Tianpei Zeng

Here are a few examples of how architecture can become a bold expression at "un-human" scales. 

Tadao Ando Envelops Giant Buddha Statue in Lavender-Planted Hill Temple

Courtesy of Hokkaido Fan Magazine
Courtesy of Hokkaido Fan Magazine

Soon after its completion, the client realized the stone structure was out of scale on its own, giving visitors an uneasy sensation. For that reason, they decided to hire Ando to create a more serene architectural procession for the site.

The Protective Shelter of Locality 1 Archaeological Site of Zhoukoudian Peking Man Cave / THAD

Courtesy of THAD
Courtesy of THAD

The immersive experience would impress the visitors of the significance of this site and explain the information to the best effect.

Holy Fire Lit Place for the Second China National Youth Games 2019 / URBANUS

© Tianpei Zeng
© Tianpei Zeng

By integrating the holy fire plaza with its surroundings, we have created a mystical, spiritual and philosophical place, which reinterprets the traditional Chinese philosophy -- man is an integral part of the nature.

© Tianpei Zeng
© Tianpei Zeng

XiXian New Area Chongwen Jing River Eco-Restaurant and Hotel / Plasma Studio + PMA

© Zhi Xia
© Zhi Xia

The design, hence, is triggered by the desire of building, a dialogue between the landscape and its architecture. Such identity, however, instead of relying on iconoclastic imaginary, finds its articulation in its placing within the site, stretching its boundaries onto the ground and producing a woven linkage with the landscape through elongated transitions – both spatial and functionally, it (re)defines its context and creates a new environment.

Chinese Culture Exhibition Center / Qingdao Tengyuan Design + ECA2

© Kai Wang
© Kai Wang

The project makes use of the natural cultural landscape to build a theater with The Sun and Moon Pavilion, integrates the natural landscape into the building to appreciate the mountains, the water and the show, and introduces the water dance and laser into the theater to create a new large-scale theater mode.

© Kai Wang
© Kai Wang

CopenHill Energy Plant and Urban Recreation Center / BIG

© Dragoer Luftfoto
© Dragoer Luftfoto

CopenHill, also known as Amager Bakke, opens as a new breed of waste-to-energy plant topped with a ski slope, hiking trail and climbing wall, embodying the notion of hedonistic sustainability while aligning with Copenhagen’s goal of becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral city by 2025. CopenHill is a 41,000m2 waste-to-energy plant with an urban recreation center and environmental education hub, turning social infrastructure into an architectural landmark.

© Rasmus Hjortshoj
© Rasmus Hjortshoj

The Cultural Courtyard - Elephant World / Bangkok Project Studio

© Spaceshift Studio
© Spaceshift Studio

The roof is low-lying, in harmony with the surrounding village. But once inside the generous height of the roof and the expanse of the cultural courtyard reveals itself.

Loop of Wisdom Museum & Reception Center / Powerhouse Company

© Jonathan Leijonhufvud Architectural Photography
© Jonathan Leijonhufvud Architectural Photography

Powerhouse Company decided instead to use the topography as the basis for a unique design that would bring an organic softness to the urban environment. [...] The new building becomes a path and architecture at the same time while allowing nature to continue around, under, and within the form of the structure. 

© Jonathan Leijonhufvud Architectural Photography
© Jonathan Leijonhufvud Architectural Photography

Note: The quoted texts are excerpts from the archived descriptions of each project, previously sent by the architects. Find more reference projects in this My ArchDaily folder created by the author.

This article is part of the ArchDaily Topic: Human Scale. Every month we explore a topic in-depth through articles, interviews, news, and projects. Learn more about our monthly topics here. As always, at ArchDaily we welcome the contributions of our readers; if you want to submit an article or project, contact us.

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Cite: Hana Abdel. "Built Nature: When Architecture Challenges Human Scale" 30 Oct 2020. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/950403/built-nature-when-architecture-challenges-human-scale> ISSN 0719-8884
© Spaceshift Studio

筑建自然,挑战人体尺度的建筑

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