Taking inspiration from nature, architect Ma Yansong designs breathtaking buildings that break free from the boxy symmetry of so many modern cities. His exuberant and graceful work – from a pair of curvy skyscrapers that “dance” with each other to an opera house that looks like a snow-capped mountain – shows us the beauty of architecture that defies norms. Watch Ma Yansong talk about nature-inspired architecture.
“Nature is by far the richest source of inspiration and knowledge that we have.” Dr Rupert Soar
Obviously, Ma Yansong is not the only architect who takes inspiration from nature. Over the course of architectural history, many designers and architects where inspired by nature and its beauty, efficiency and wisdom.
The late, Zaha Hadid comes to mind when we look at the curvy and flowing lines of buildings and architectural structures. She was once called the ‘queen of curves’. You can enjoy her creation in London, in Hyde Park: an extension to Serpentine Sacker Gallery which serves as a cafe/restaurant so you can actually embody and allow her curvy architecture shape you. In this case, Zaha Hadid has balanced the yang of this 1805 former gunpowder store, located 2min walk from the original Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park by adding a curvaceous extension – a perfect example of yin and yang in action.
La Sagrada Familia
La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is another architectural example where nature or natural patterns and forms can be seen in the design. It is said that Gaudi was much inspired by forest canopy for his Sagrada Familia designs.
“We have to make buildings that do more, using less… The example of where that works the best is nature itself,” says Dr Rupert Soar, a lecturer at Nottingham Trent University, UK and engineer at company 3D Blume. “Nature is always fighting to use limited resource most effectively to exist with, and we are entering that era ourselves.”
Biophilia effect and biophilic design have become the mainstream trends now and many designers and architects are using these principles.
The Gherkin, London
“This was one of the first environmentally progressive buildings in the UK city of London,” says Tang of 30 St Mary Axe, the UK’s iconic skyscraper, nicknamed ‘The Gherkin’. The air ventilation system was inspired by sea sponges and anemones and is supported by an exoskeleton structure designed for the ventilation flows through the entire building.
How can you add nature-inspired designs into your home?
• Add flowing lines and curves. Extensive research and my MSc Environmental Psychology dissertation suggest that people prefer curves and flowing lines.
• Add nature: plants, flowers and so on.
• Add images and posters of nature. You can fill the whole walls with photographic wallpapers of nature.
• Add floral patters to your interiors, wallpapers, cushions, and so on.