Organic Architecture is a philosophy, often referred to by the great architect Frank Loyd Wright. This philosophy correlates to his environmentally integrated approach to the design of furniture, fixtures, interior details and of course architecture, in relation to its environs.
This integrated approach has an innate harmony with the natural world and it is reflected in the perfection of nature. Wright took natural patterns and rhythms and echoed them in his work. This mirroring of nature created designs that emulated the natural world, allowing its inhabitants to live and work in spaces, that not only allowed for deeper comfort, but a connection to their surroundings.
The term was first used in an August 1914 article, for Architectural Record. Wright wrote, “the ideal of an organic architecture... is a sentient, rational building that would owe its ‘style’ to the integrity with which it was individually fashioned to serve its particular purpose — a ‘thinking’ as well as ’feeling’ process.”
This unique American style of architecture, known at Organic Architecture, was defined with a horizontal emphasis, expansive open interiors and local materials. He used light, space, design and proportion in such a unique way, that what he designed was not only in integrity with the site location but also with a deep reverence for the natural world, with its human inhabitants in mind.
Frank Lloyd Wright used various forms of detail to ornate his buildings. This ornamentation took place in the form of patterns cast in concrete, tile, glass mosaics, carved stone, muted tones,leaded glass panels and carved wood. His sense of color and use of materials allowed spaces to naturally “fit” into an environment, as though they were always there.
A brilliant thinker for the time, Wright was speaking on esoteric subjects such as the symbiotic relationship of nature and man. He viewed architecture as having the ability to be a unified system in harmony with the natural environment. Today, this type of thinking is still considered fringe, despite the amount of information proving that humans thrive in connection and communion with nature.
There is influence in Wright’s work that echoes the Art Nouveau movement as well as other contemporaries of his, but no one has been able to eloquently create a body of work, such as Wright did, that was in such alignment with their philosophies. He was known for saying, “I believe in God, only I spell it Nature.”
Wright used nature, not only as a muse for inspiration but for direction and insight on how things can be done better.
Today designing buildings as a unified organism and in alignment with the natural world, is still on the leading edge of architecture and design. Despite movements such as the biophilia hypothesis, which suggests that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life or biomimicry, the imitation of the models, systems, and elements of nature for the purpose of solving complex human problems, we are still far from these philosophies becoming mainstream. Countless studies have proven the importance and relevance of nature in schools, hospitals, homes and businesses to provide for productive and healing environments.
Wright truly changed the way we build and the way we live. His theory of Organic Architecture spanned his entire career and has infiltrated our generation including the amazing work of Eric Corey Freed. Eric is the founder of organicARCHITECT and has demonstrated that sustainability makes sense on an economicand environmental scale. Today, he is the Chief Community Officer of EcoDistricts and continues to inspire people nationwide through his best selling books and motivational lectures.
Designing in alignment with the natural world is not a new concept, but still continues to be revolutionary. As we become a more tech-centric society, may we heed our necessity to deepen our roots with the natural world and infiltrate our lives with boughs from nature.