At its roots, Organic Architecture is the original style of structure for humankind. Over the centuries, its methods and ideals developed due to a wealth of creators. However, beginning in the late 1800s, it came into its own through Frank Lloyd Wright. Still today, architects design according to his teachings. Also, his philosophies have spurred others to take his concepts and add their own unique flares to them.
Simply put, Organic Architecture is nature and structure coming together as one: not destroying the land, but incorporating it into the overall design. In essence, the structure appears as if it is growing from the landscape.
Organic Architecture is site-specific. This means that if the structure were somehow picked up and placed elsewhere, it would not fit into the area. In fact, some works even use the landscape itself — such as rock outcroppings and trees — as part of the structural and ornamental design. With this style, an architectural work is intended for one place and one place alone.
Organic Architecture is also client-specific. The design is based on the then-and-now for that particular customer. Form follows function. Just as a structure fits into its natural surroundings, people must fit into their constructed surroundings. Therefore, Organic Architecture is not meant to belittle the client. Instead, the client should be made to feel like a part of the design.
Natural materials and neutral colors are necessary to Organic Architecture in order to emphasize the unity of nature. Stone and wood are commonplace, but glass is a main priority. Glass blends the interior with the exterior, creating a sense of harmony. The goal is to provide the sensation that a person is outdoors while they are indoors.
Not only is Organic Architecture created according to nature, but it mimics it within. Imagine going for a walk in the woods. Some areas are uncomfortable and dark, which coax swift movement to get beyond them. Other areas open up and allow light to enter. This same concept applies to structure. Divisions such as doorways and hallways are made to be small and slightly unwelcoming. Why? Because their aesthetic purpose is to quickly guide people to the bigger and brighter public spaces. Places like living rooms and family rooms are communal, so the focus of architectural design puts heavier emphasis on these gathering areas. It’s compression and release, shelter and space, darkness and light.
Some other elements of Organic Architecture are:
- A center masonry core from which the structure branches
- Indirect lighting to simulate natural light
- Weatherproof floors used in and out causing the interior structure to pour to the outdoors
- A southern-esque site orientation to maximize solar exposure
- Strategic window placement for cross-ventilation
- Low-sitting, built-in furniture so as to not obstruct the outside view
- Unassuming, quaint entrances for privacy purposes
Though Frank Lloyd Wright passed away in 1959, his concepts are still going strong. Furthermore, his teachings created students who adapted their own iconic styles, such as John Lautner.
Because of Organic Architecture, the mid-century movement came about. Without it, history would certainly have missed out on some of the most creative and fun furniture and building concepts of the 20th century. Though most people don’t realize it, there’s a high likelihood that their homes or the furnishings within have at least an indirect correlation with Frank Lloyd Wright. His influence single-handedly changed the face of American design.