Architecture that doesn’t only live in nature but is made of it

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By Allison Meier
August 11, 2014, Hyperallergic

Inspired by bird nests or vanishing building techniques, architecture based on natural materials is an expanding focus in both sculpture garden and urban landscape. The 2007 Natural Architecture book compiled some of the practitioners of bamboo building and structural weaving, and this month Natural Architecture Now: New Projects from Outside the Boundaries of Design by Francesca Tatarella continues the dialogue.

Released by Princeton Architectural Press, it includes 25 studios and over 50 projects. From Patrick Dougherty’s branch weaving to Roberto Conte’s layered stick fences, Natural Architecture Now demonstrates the diversity of how to build sustainably, albeit fleetingly. As Tatarella writes in the preface, the structures “speak to a different concept of time” as they “are by definition temporary; while visiting them, we cannot help but be reminded that sooner or later, the branches and leaves that form their outer shells will rot and be absorbed back into the landscape, just as stones will fall from foundations and, over the ages, be worn away until they are just pebbles.”

While they exist, however, they can engage with our relationships with nature. Concrete and glass buildings have little to do with geography, yet when Alfio Bonanno uses branches washed up on Lake Simcoe’s shores in southern Ontario, there’s an immediate resonance of place. The book includes some projects designed to interact with nature, such as Ants of the Prairie’s “Bat Tower” as part of Joyce Hwang’s Pest Architecture series to give a home to the much maligned creatures, and Yolanda Gutiérrez‘s “Sanctuary (Santuario)” of curves of woven reeds designed to encourage birds to nest near Mexico City. Porky Hefer Design, meanwhile, takes inspiration right from natural designs, particularly the nests of weaver birds which are replicated on a large scale as structures in South Africa. Read more…

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