Connecting Nature & Architecture
I recently visited a building by a famous local architect and was inspired by how this building connected people to its natural setting. The building I visited is inspired by nature – it took its cues from the setting and it made sense of the place in which it sits. Inside and outside were different places along a journey that culminated in the interior hall at the centre of the building. In this building there is a lot of glass and open terraces – a generosity of spaces that felt at one with the scale of environment in which it is located.
The exterior fabric of any building insulates and protects people from the fluctuations of weather. We as people, do not enjoy feeling hot or cold, and nor do we enjoy wind or glare. So on a cold night we want to be warm and dry and in summer we want to be cool and protected. In this sense, the outside environment is not our friend and far from wanting to be connected to it, we actually seek disconnection through a retreat into an interior world.
My visit to this building was a reminder that architecture simultaneously needs to perform two functions. It connects us to the surrounding environment so that we can enjoy nature, light and space. At the same time it protects us from that same environment’s harsh effects by providing a sanctuary, a safe world into which we can retreat and seek comfort. This is no easy task, though this conundrum gets resolved in one way or another each time an architect designs a new building. At times, one of these functions is given precedent over the other: an emphasis on the external connection ends up providing less than ideal shelter, or priority on shelter ends up locking out the outside world. Thankfully there are plenty of architects who do it well. In my view this balance is the essence of great architecture!
Credits to The Monthly for this image, and for any other information on the mosque – you can find it below: