Thursday, January 8, 2009

Letting Nature In

Shelter keeps Nature out. Architecture can let it in. Shelter sheds rain and buffers wind. Architecture can open to the delights of water and air. When Shelter might have offered a protective pavilion to view a waterfall in Pennsylvania, Frank Lloyd Wright placed a house in the waterfall.

Certainly we need to stay dry and warm. We need to screen out mosquitoes and burglars. But we can't engage an intimate relationship with Nature if we don't invite her over for dinner.

Musing on this idea last year, I made the attached sketch. It shows a cross section through a small building. Instead of the roof sloping out and shedding the rain, it slopes toward the center and gathers the rain in a central pool. Instead of windows facing out, the seating focuses on the inner pool and people who might gather around the pool. This little temple is designed as a protected place where visitors might opened their minds and bodies to let Nature in. Nature in this case includes rain, sunlight and wind. It also includes human nature and chance encounters between the two.

With all our talk about loving Nature, when to we actually stop for a moment to let her touch us? When do we really let the colors of leaves and stone flood our eyes? When do we let the melodies of birds and the rhythms of streams hum into our ears? When do we let the textures of moss and tree bark caress our fingertips? When do we meet the eyes of others and let their souls whisper into ours? 

I thought a little building like this might offer a place where we could let Nature in.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Tony,
    This drawing is fantastic! I think it epitomizes the idea of moving beyond "shelter" and using "architecture" instead to create more a complex, layered, and dynamic relationship with the natural world. Instead of putting up a fortress of concrete and steel to block out the elements, we invite them in, in a way that is useful and contained (we don't want to always be soaked by the rain!), yet fundamentally takes on the characteristic of 'embracing' not shunning; what a powerful metaphor for the conceptual relationship modern people often have with the natural world--fear and self-protection are at the root of many strained relationships. It would be great if you could post more of these types of drawings--I think they say a lot.
    Thanks! Kristen