Contemporary Design – Styles and Directions: Organic Architecture

As an architectural style, organic architecture originated in the United States in the 1890s on the basis of the principles and assertions formulated by Louis Sullivan, which relied on the tenets of biology and evolutionary theory and was fully embodied in the works his adherent Frank Lloyd Wright in the 1930s and 1950s.

Organic architecture has become the newest approach to design based on three major factors: human, functional and natural environment.

Organic architecture, as opposed to the same architecture of functionalism, places the creation of naturally enclosed buildings and buildings that make the most of natural materials.

Wright proposed the concept, the main idea of ​​which was not to emphasize the individual parts of the architectural space as in the architecture of classicism, but rather its continuity. Built into the building, its appearance, which seems to flow from the inner meaning and content, combined with the rejection of formal rules – these are the characteristic features that reflect Wright’s architectural language. He first implemented these ideas in a series of Prairie Homes (like Robbie’s Chicago home).

Wright’s vision of creating massive public buildings was also original. In 1904, he first used a three-story, atrial-type structure to design a five-story Larkin office building in Buffalo, thus dramatically rejecting traditional corridor planning at that time.

The Guggenheim Museum in New York is perhaps the most striking example of a public building designed by Wright. In this project, Wright once again eliminated one of the original stereotypes. This time, the enfilade came under the knife as the main (and perhaps the only at the time) way of planning the museum structure. The exhibit at this museum is housed on a long ramp that spirals around a central atrium illuminated by natural light, which is served by a transparent glass dome.

In the mid-1930s, in promoting the idea of ​​meeting the personal and psychological needs of each individual, organic architecture quickly gained adherents not only in the United States but in Europe, as opposed to the extremes of the functionalist direction. .

Artist of Finnish descent Alvar Aalto becomes the main and perhaps the most striking representative here.

His designs have combined the rigor of features and spatial compositions with sophisticated artistry of images and designs woven into the nuances of local landscapes. Freedom of internal space expanded, preferably horizontally; unconventional combinations of modern materials such as reinforced concrete or glass with organic and more conventional wood, stone or brick – these are the main features that can be easily recognized by the creation of Aalto. Interestingly, his style is also called a restrained European counterpart to Wright’s work, while at the same time not compromising his own organic style.

The sharp rise in interest in organic architecture in the early 21st century. can be identified with the emergence of a new aesthetic paradigm, which, in contrast to the very Wright, still recognizes the importance, and ultimately the possibility, of juxtapositions of architectural and living forms.

Regionalism stands out as a branch of organic architecture. Built on the same principles of avoiding excessive asceticism, it promotes not blind and thoughtless replication of architectural forms and structures, but a creative revision of them according to local or regional conditions – landscapes, environment, historical background. Nowadays, regionalism successfully exploits the traditions of local cultures while operating on world-class achievements in the field of theoretical and practical architecture.

Read more about other architectural styles here .


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