understanding of organic architecture varies with the different interpretations
and response. The process of a building is the subdivision of itself beginning
with the process, the parametric and the generative design.
The psychological connection between architecture and an
individual’s thoughts are the main attributes of architecture. It creates a
realisation of experience and engagement.
In this text I
will discuss how aspects of organic architecture might have influenced the
design nature of the Shell House by Kotaro Ide.In order to understand the meaning of organic architecture,
the natural surrounding held inspiration to the designs and incorporation. When
adapting to a particular landscape, it is important to compliment it rather
than damage its beauty.
Wright’s notion of ‘organic architecture’ consisted of creative
possibilities. Organic architecture is defined where a building is at one with
its surrounding whilst incorporating nature’s principles into the design. It
only concerned the forms, colour, patterns and textures and how the building
can be adapted to a person’s use. He created organic architecture to form a
purpose. The purpose of design for Wright was not styling a building, but for
the building to have an intimate connection with the place and site. Wright favoured Japanese architecture in method of
unifying man and nature. Wright has done this through his works of integrating
the house with the waterfall.The Shell House located in Karuizawa, Japan is a holiday
villa. It had great inspiration from Wright’s Fallingwater House as both
correspond with their unique natural surroundings and incorporate nature within
their design. Ide had the opportunity to explore the unique
environmentEL1 . The conditions in Karuizawa are very moist
and damp. Within these conditions, mould would become a problem which Ide did
not want. Commonly, most retreats had a very simple design with shingled roofs
and glazed windows which were not well adapted to its surrounding. Under these
conditions, this required high maintenance by visitors accommodating the retreat. The decision to raise the building from
the ground helped to protect the villa from this harsh environment.
According to Ide, “Design has to be accompanied by logic, function, and reason”. 1 Ide’s thoughts for the building was designed
to enable the building to co-exist harmoniously with nature rather than
forcibly incorporate nature. The isolated location allows the futuristic
building to blend in with the traditional Japanese landscapes. The simplistic
shape came from the influence of the surrounding caves. It has a synthetic
quality to the landscape where the shape shelters from the nature and
manipulates movement through surroundings.
The form of the continuous silhouette
structure begins like a growth from the ground and continues to grow with the
site. The pre-existing trees were not felled during the buildings of the
Both Wright and Ide incorporated nature within their
designs but the interpretation varies.
Wright’s notion was designing a building for a purpose
whereas Ide’s method of organic architecture was the building needing to
harmonise with its surrounding with a rationalist approach.
was a key element to both Wright and Ide’s architectural design. Both of whom
had used it for different purposes.
has wright used it? -Structurally
The Fallingwater house located at The Glen, Bear Run,
Pennsylvania uses concrete cantilever slabs which are projected over the stream
and rocky banks. This forms the living space. This particular structure
continuing over the waterfall provides the sense of space. The overhanging
edges were smoothed and rounded creating a gentler appearance.
The Fallingwater House holds many aspects of organic
architecture, the unique design and shape of the house responds to the rocky
banks and the running river. The cantilevered ledges create a more mysterious
atmosphere within the landscape. In comparison to his other designed buildings,
the Fallingwater house is a late example of using the site’s surroundings as an
inspiration to his design.
The well-crafted materiality used for this house combines
the surrounding landscape with an interior feel. The broad use of glass and no
solid walls facing the waterfall draws in a clear view of the skyline and the
forest opposite. This allowed nature’s ambiance to be bought into the interior
space. This house uses a combination of reinforced concrete and natural
stone – concrete which is most suited for a damp climate.
cantilevered terrace connects the house with the profound beauty of nature. The
overlaid terraces vary in directions which they point, creating a sculptural
element to the house. All in which have been designed to be planes raised
parallel to the ground. This complex design had structural issues regarding the
horizontal forces. Engineers Mendel Glickman and William Wesley Peters worked
with Wright to resolve the structural design. The choice in materiality had
resolved this issue.
In order for wright to connect
the house with the site it had “a
definite masonry formEL1 ” and the reinforced concrete had
been used for the cantilevered structure. In all of wright’s experience as an
architect, this was his first project using concrete for a residential
building. The diverse use for concrete through casting into shapes and the
increase in strength properties when steel is reinforced had fascinated
Wright’s opinion upon the material.
seamless smooth approach following Japanese influence
different approach to concrete by Ide has been implemented through the smooth organic shaped building harmonises
with its surroundings. Organic architecture commonly uses a concrete structure,
as used for Wright’s Fallingwater house. “The existence of the structure
depends on its power to endure nature.1” The clarity between the structure and nature
affects the purpose quality.
The contrast of materials used within the
building creates a clear distinction between the two elements, structure and
nature. The harsh concrete structure clashes with the green landscape. The use
of concrete suits well with nature. The double-glazed windows inbuilt into the
subtle shell allows uninterrupted view of the surroundings and allows as much
light to enter the two-storey interior space, creating an open and freeness
has many profound qualities which can be adapted to different designs. The
versatile properties in which concrete has, endures the damp and humid climates
which both buildings are situated. The distinct contrast between structure and
nature is a clear understanding of organic architecture which is has
represented. Wright had focused on understanding the material quality and
structural properties. The diverse range of abilities with concrete use had
formed a sculpture whether or not it was Wright’s main intention. Ide who
developed a more seamless smooth shape from concrete had grasped the
understanding of connecting concrete with the site in order to create a fluid
building complementing movement with and around the site.
space in which a person moves throughout a building provides structure to the
place. The perception of identification and orientation provides a sense of
understanding place and how one is ought to move about.This
has most certainly been carried out, the natural flow of water from the
waterfall produced an endless sound of flowing water. The open planned floor
allows the sound of clashing water to travel throughout the whole house.This
house had been built in two parts, the first was the client’s main house built
in 1936-1938. The completion of the second part was in 1939, this was the guest
room. A signature element to Wright’s design is the placement of the fireplace,
the fireplace is the focal point of a room and is the heart of the room. In
order to bring the waterfall inside the house, wright had carved into the fire
place by using rocks.The
journey through the building begins by entering the garage moving your way up
through the house. The extension of the chimney makes it the tallest point on
the house’s exterior. The first-floor features an open planned living space and
kitchen, moving to the second floor consisting of three small bedrooms. Located
on the third floor was the study and the bedroom of Kaufmann’s son, Edgar Jr.
each room in the house had been carefully designed to relate to the surrounding
nature. From the living room on the first floor, stairs were emplaced to
connect to the water beneath. The
large glass panelled windows allow for natural light to enter. However, the
dark and narrow passages circulating through the spaces creates an experience
of compression between the walls, but once moving towards the outdoors the
sense of expansion happens. The low ceilings in the rooms reach up to 6’4 and
it is in direct eyeline to nature. For example, to
prevent damage to the building, there is a constant air condition system
flowing inside to keep the villa cool.
Etherington, R. (2009). Shell by
ARTechnic architects | Dezeen. Dezeen. Retrieved 11 January
Shell Residence by
Kotaro Ide | Yatzer. (2010). Yatzer. Retrieved 11 January 2018.