Organic architecture is about designing a home or structure that unites with its natural surroundings. It goes beyond the external design and shape to include materials, site, climate, interior design, fixtures and furnishings. And, it often incorporates green ideas and environmentally friendly technology; but goes a step further.
It embodies the human spirit and follows the design process of nature itself which creates wonders for country homes!
Country homes lend themselves perfectly to organic architecture. Having chosen a building lot or acreage in the countryside, it makes sense to design a home that is in harmony with its surroundings, whether it is surrounded by fields, forests, mountains or water. Looking at examples of organic structures around the world can be an inspiration for building or developing country homes and other types of properties.
Organic Architecture and Frank Lloyd Wright
The term organic architecture was invented by one of America’s most dynamic architects, Frank Lloyd Wright. He was a prominent influence in design and was recognized by the American Institute of Architects as the greatest American architect of all time.
His concept of organic architecture is wonderfully illustrated in the residence Fallingwater which was built overhanging the waterfall on Bear Run in the Allegheny Mountains of rural Pennsylvania. Such an exceptional location deserved a unique design. Fallingwater is on a pillar-less cantilever construction over the falls and was built using rocks from a quarry on the site.
A complete wall of windows and balconies reach out to connect with the surrounding stunning location yet the rest of the house is built like a cozy cavern, sheltering the occupants within the rocky hillside.
A rocky ledge protrudes through the stone floor in the living room while the hearth is made of river-washed boulders collected nearby. The design even makes use of the sound of the waterfall. The water theme continues with a dripping stream inside and a spring-fed pool outside.
Wright’s Usonian family homes have more lessons to teach us. The L-shaped family homes were constructed of local materials and designed around small gardens. Flat roofs and overhangs provided square footage for solar heating panels while large windows are a source of natural harvested light. The aesthetic design flows from carport to home, connecting interior and exterior space as a unified whole. All these ideas can be considered or adapted for country homes.
Examples of Organic Architecture
Born decades later, the torch of Wright’s organic architecture has been picked up and carried forward by architects such as Eric Corey Freed. His capacity and interests like Wright include many different designs and settings. The picture above, a work of Eric was a remodeling of a residence.
As well as running his own sustainable architecture business and chairing the Coachella Valley Branch of the US Green Building Council, he has authored a number of books including Green Sense for your Home and Green Building and Remodeling for Dummies. Anyone serious about developing their own organic home in the country will find these books full of ideas and inspiration.
Don Ericson, a student of Lloyd Wright used his home in Barrington, IL as a laboratory for experimenting with organic ideas. These included a pagoda-shaped roof with high clerestory windows for natural light. The high ceilings and unconfined sense of space represent the liberation and freedom found in nature. Massive wooden beams extend from indoors to outside and natural materials bring the outdoors in.
Luxury hotels around the world provide excellent examples of organic architecture and the ideas that can be translated into any country home. The use of bamboo, wooden window frames, stone floors and natural earthy colours reflect nature. Water features, which can be as simple as a glazed pot containing a water lily or papyrus, complete the appeal.
Nature provides inspiration wherever you look. Those fortunate enough to have a home in the country may want to incorporate organic architecture into their home or next building project to embrace its natural display, virtue and usefulness.
Photo credit: Eric Corey Freed