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Today, much of our society is trying to dominate nature rather than be one with it. Humans have been questioned whether or not we are a part of nature or apart from it. As technology advances we neglect the purity of nature and seek to alter it when not needed. It’s a battle between the built environment and the natural environment and right now many of the consequences are a derivative of the built environment while the natural environment is the one who suffers from it. The need for sustainability is a procedure in addressing global climate change that modernization has unforeseen. In order to recover, it is an optimal idea to refer back to precedents of nature and what is purely nature and not artificial. In a book called “Natural Architecture” written by Alessando Rocca he describes the integration of the foundation infrastructure of the built environment with the natural environment.

The book analyzes many natural structures throughout the world as a symbolic idea that humans can return to their primitive form while still being modern. You’ll see much of these natural structures are purely built from what nature has to offer and it’s the human mind that design and form these masterpieces. The author describes that the artist and architects of these pieces strictly used what was from nature; twigs, leaves, branches, etc. As organic as the materials with which they are built, these creations allow the living landscape to naturally overtake each structure until it finally decomposes.

Today’s roadways, we think of black asphalt and sidewalk pavements for fossil burning vehicles to travel over. Here’s a piece called the “Organic Highway” located in Tickon Skulturpark, Langeland, Denmark, 1995. This roadway is 197 feet long and is made of sycamore branches placed on a forest-covered slope. It spans about 12 feet wide and slowly inclines near a hill. Rocca says, “The false perspective of the organic motorway seems to increase the depth of the landscape, an effect landscape architecture had been employing for centuries.”

The Botanical Cathedral, by Giuliano Mauri was started in 2001 near Malga Costa and is said to mimic the true size of an actual built cathedral. 80 columns of woven branches help to compose three naves of the cathedral. About 12 feet high each column has a hornbeam inside so that plant vegetation can grow. The botanical cathedral stands 40 feet tall can covers 4035 square feet of natural space. Most Cathedrals are of grandeur size but they need to be actively cooled by HVAC systems, there aren’t really any cathedrals that have passive cooling designed because cathedrals traditionally follow precedent guidelines.

Palaces are for royalty, homes to Kings & Queens of different sorts. In this case the Auerworld Palace in Weimr Germany began “growing” in 1998 with “Mothernature” as the Queen in the royalty of nature. It took about 300 people to help design and form the Palace. Rocca mentions that the way in which it was “planted” illustrates the energy potential that can be developed in a process of natural growth conducted within a community project. The Auerworld Palace is purely function in its natural state because it is used as a catalyst for community celebrations; Full moon events and so forth were occasions in the venue.

Here’s another cathedral called the Willow cathedral which also had a similar size to that of a real cathedral, unlike the botanical cathedral this one is more of a Roman Catholic cathedral having a single nave in a cross shaped design.

Modern water stations tend to be managed electronically, this water station proves otherwise. The water station “For the Heaven” in Chiran, Kagoshima is located along the upper stretch of the river. You can see all the material is purely organic and the system works all by gravity, distributing the water for irrigation and drinking in the Chiran community.

Estimatory Spyglasses located on the river borders between Gorliltz Germany and Sgorzelec Poland 2001. Spyglasses were used in time of war to actually spy on the other you’re at war with but rather having that spying function these organically designed spy glasses had more of a symbolic reasoning instead. There was once a bridge where these two spyglasses stand now. Made of chestnut and oak these spyglasses measure up to 66 feet long with the viewing ends that were only 4 inches and the opposite bank with 16 feet in diameter. Rocca notes, “The two spyglasses form a visual, ideal bridge between two peoples that seem to be divided by hatred.” These two Countries Germany and Poland are connect by the sculptural piece in hopes that identifying their environmental welfare will allow them to see and help each other flourish in sustainable living conditions.


The built environment is well endowed with scientific knowledge but lacks the essence of nature while the natural environment can be formed by scientific knowledge while still being resilient within nature still. All pieces I’ve mentioned from Rocca’s book can be easily contrasted to traditional built structures where sustainability can be problematic. Since it was a battle between the built environment and the natural environment the winner here is definitely the natural environment. Well done.

Bibliography: Rocca, Alessandro Natural Architecture 2007 22 publishing Milan, Italy

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