The impact architecture has on a society's spirit cannot be underestimated.
Architecture it returning to nature oriented design. Many examples exist of which "The Water Garden" office complex of Santa Monica, CA is an excellent representative. Its focal point is a man-made lake with islands connected by curving walkways. The lake offers a relaxing workday intermission for thousands of office employees. This design by McLarand, Vasquez & Partners was the named the 2005 International Office Building of the Year (TOBY) (available (http://www.wg-la.com/default.htm).Eight office towers provide 1.25 million square feet of office space yet the emphasis is on the human element. The towers are characterized by gently curving edges that evoke images of waves and watercourses.
Various hotels in Las Vegas now emphasize water as part of its entertainment theme. For example the famous Bellagio "dancing water fountains" are attractive and relaxing. Water as a source of relaxation explains the popularity of themed water parks. For example, "Disney World's Blizzard Beach, an illusory wintry water wonderland, is another spine chilling adventure. Beach guests can bobsled down the 'snowy' slopes of Mount Gushmore or plunge down the 120-foot-high Summit Plummet, reportedly the tallest, fastest free-fall speed slide in the world" (p. 116).
Yet a more personal level is the famed Elrod House by John Lautner. In this case, there is an interweaving of natural elements in which the house is not the center attraction. Instead, nature is the attraction and the home is a minimally intrusive construct. As Alan Hess states, "Lautner followed a variety of tacks in relating his houses to nature. Early structures like the Mauer house are rooted to the ground, with terraces and walls growing up out of the earth; the concrete Elrod house is scooped out of the desert rock." (p. 16). This outcome is the realization of a human residence skillfully blended into a natural setting.
Office parks - work environments, water parks - play environments, and natural settings - home environments, each reflect an architectural design intended to emphasize oneness with nature. Enlightened people no longer wish to dominate nature but would rather join with it. We are but a part; we should not strive to be its center. Construction used in each of these examples relies on flowing curves, rounded corners, trees, water, soft lighting, expansive lawns and natural terrains. Concrete, steel and glass are each used but in a more subdued manner so that the surrounding natural beauty is preeminent.
Music, movies, paintings, plays, prose, poetry; each is an art enriching our lives by touching our emotions. Design is art in its realization. Products made by Apple are not just functionally superior; they are also a joy to use. Whether the effect of design is direct or indirect, our lives are affected. Architecture is the grandest expression of art. The scale and resources required to execute such vision ensure society will be influenced. This paper, this manifesto, recognizes architecture's importance on the society it serves. Modernist Architecture is the food of Philistines. It provides empty calories that cannot nourish. Architecture that resonates to nature's influence will return us from the savage gardens created by the likes of Pei, Cobb and Freed. Nature is the source of all living things; we need to look towards its influence, not contend with it. It has been shown that architectural design has the power to disrupt a society. Therefore, a return of balance to urban centers where thousands upon thousands of living, sentient beings must dwell is clearly in order. There must be a sense of well being restored by providing visual reminders of the wonder of nature. To be in harmony with one's surroundings is to know a sublime joy. Architectural design will be far more visually satisfying if it rejects the knife's sharp edge and reflects the reed's gentle bend.
University of Sydney, Faculty of Architecture. (2006). "Green Architecture." Architectural Science Review 49(4), 425.
Hess, a. (1999). The Architecture of John Lautner. New York: Rizzoli, 16.
Sundaram, T.R. (1998, May). "Numerical Patterns in Nature" World and I, 13(5), 176.