From Nature to Architecture
By Pathik Gandhi
How does space form in nature? Does space have some pattern or order? Can we observe space as habitat? Can we be inspired by such formation of space to build elegant architecture? There are many examples in the world that have been inspired by answering such questions. In nature, such forms have survived for ages and evolving over time to withstand external forces such as the climate.
At one of the architectural design studios at CEPT university-Ahmedabad, Professor Riyaz , Professor Sankalp and myself – I was visiting faculty at the time – adopted a methodical approach in trying to answer the above-mentioned questions, using series of design exercises based on natural porous objects. Students were asked to select various objects from nature such as corals, bird’s nests, bread, bones, oranges, sea-foam, sponges etc. Each of these objects has its own unique equilibrium. Their forms may seem complex, but the geometric relationships within each form can always be broken down into smaller and simpler segments.
Each natural object has a very different configuration and set of properties that give rise to spaces that are used for different purposes. These constructions of spaces were visualized by a series of hand sketches to understand its structural integrity, quality of light and relationship between various voids in the chosen object. It was important that students understand that the expressive quality of built forms is rooted in structure, which is essential in making of architecture. Structure orders the distribution of matter. It varies from material to material, allowing for different distributions of mass and void, leading to a variety of textures and grain, light and shadow, scale and proportions. It is from this perspective that structure gives meaning to material. Only by reducing the amount of matter used in constructing space to the absolute minimum, can the elegance of structure be perceived.♦