Investigations of Organic Architecture, Part 1: The Nature in the Beast

I know ‘everyone’ is probably wondering the status of the previous semester’s work on the Cause and Effect / Hyper-SUPER project that I posted about back in March. Well… it went… somewhere. I am still trying to wrap my head around the ramifications of that work and the questions that the final product raised, namely in the field of “democracy in/through design.” More on that another time though.

This semester I have the opportunity to participate in a unique studio experience under the direction of Jennifer Ackerman. Our investigations will focus on the nature of organic systems as inspiration for architectural constructs. The potential here seems nearly limitless given the shear amount of precedent and inspirational material present in biology and the natural world. The general outline of the first portion of studio is this:

  1. Identify organic structures and abstract them into architectural structures devoid of program or function.
  2. Modify those structures through the additions of skins, appendages, masses, etc.
  3. Cultivate the structures into an architectural piece capable of a given task (i.e.: fog collection) and human occupancy.
  4. Curate the work into a compelling exhibit that conveys a story of your organic structure working within an assigned space for some worth-while reason.

At this point in the semester (about 11 days in) we have completed the first two tasks and are on to the next two with the end goal of a final review/exhibit next Monday (an ambitious deadline). I have collected some of my work to date on this project below and will post more as it develops and becomes something more… and as I wrap my head around exactly what the potential of these forms is.



The first form I investigated, and perhaps my personal favorite, was that of a river flowing through ice. Although not an organic or biological structure, it can be argued that the form closely resembles that of blood vessels moving through tissue as they decrease in size to small capillaries weaving in and out of tissue. I was interested in the potential of recreating such a strong, delineated form indirectly through the use of smaller aggregate components that arrange together almost randomly to create a sense of structural density and void. Through the void moves a flow of basswood hairs denoting the movement of biological or natural material through a system or space.

This form was then modified through the addition of ‘skins’. In this case I chose to apply partial patches of materials that would better reinforce the notion of density and void. Sections of latex skin (rubber gloves) and metal screening were applied to experiment with the functionality and aesthetic of each material. A skeletal frame of broken members took on the appearance of being clad in poorly performed, yet oddly interesting skin grafts. A grotesque and uncomfortable transformation that gave the structure the appearance that it has weathered horrible conditions and still manages to stand.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s