Marcus Mayell, Bronze Medal Nominee (2015)

Reflection on “Nature”


Human life exists in the context of nature. From the beginning humans have had a dependent relationship with the physical earth and experience life in context of a physical natural world. All human senses are adept to functioning and flourishing in nature. Recognition of this relationship suggests that the built environment, to be most effective in function and beauty should draw from the mechanics and experiences in nature. Architect and Professor Greg Lynn said in a lecture, “What’s interesting about architects is, we always have tried to justify beauty by looking to nature, and arguably, beautiful architecture has always been looking at a model of nature.”[1]  Nature is arguably the primary example of function and beauty – not separate but as unified principals.


What happens to nature when it is built upon? While we may see harmony in nature, we must also recognize the toilsome relationship that humans have with the earth. We would not need organization and shelter if we could find an appropriate place in nature. Swiss architect, Mario Botta has been quoted saying that, “Architecture is the constant fight between man and nature, the fight to overwhelm nature, to possess it. The first act of architecture is to put a stone on the ground. That act transforms a condition of nature into a condition of culture; it’s a holy act.”[2] The act of creating culture is a profound concept in the context of architecture. The built environment in the context of nature gives expression to human existence. However, as we have become increasingly aware, the built environment of humans has had increasingly negative effects on the environment.


When considering the first humans on earth, I imagine a more symbiotic relationship with nature. Recognizing the toilsome relationship between humans and nature, is it possible to move toward a relationship with nature, as it first existed? Over time humans have affected nature by increasingly consuming rather nurturing. Furthermore, the built environment has created a gamut of social, economic, as well as environmental issues. Recent strides in Architecture Building Science have indicated that the built environment can take inspiration from nature not only through function and beauty, but also through bio-mimicry. How can architecture give more than it takes? The inspiration of renewal is something that can permeate all aspects of architecture not just sustainability. As Michael Braungart wrote, “Glance at the sun. See the moon and the stars. Gaze at the beauty of earth’s greenings. Now, think.”[3] If architecture is a cultural expression, then an architecture that embraces nature is an expression of function, beauty and renewal. It is my hope, as I move on from Judson University, that a mind set of stewardship, renewal, and inspiration as seen in nature can continue to influence my work.

[1] Lynn, Greg. “Transcript of “Organic Algorithms in Architecture”” Greg Lynn: Organic Algorithms in Architecture. TED, 01 Jan. 09. Web. 12 Mar. 2015.

[2] Botta, Mario. “Quote #128 – Mario Botta.” AIA Redwood Empire Quote 128 Mario Botta Comments. AIA Redwood Empire, 28 Aug. 2010. Web. 12 Mar. 2015.

[3] McDonough, William, and Michael Braungart. Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. New York: North Point, 2002.

Exhibits of Coursework (click to expand)


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