Reflection on “Nature”
Nature consists of two primary components, namely physical nature and inherent nature, which together inform how architecture and architects fit within nature.
Physical nature is concerned with the part of the physical world that is natural. This consists of all that has been created, including mankind and the thoughts and products he creates. That which is typically considered creation (i.e., mankind and that which has been unaltered by mankind) comprises first nature. That which has been created by members of first nature comprises second nature. The creations of mankind are a component of second nature.
Inherent nature is what mankind is fundamentally inclined to do. As imperfect creators, our creations might appear to be inherently flawed. However, our inherent nature is not one of sin and imperfection, but rather of goodness and perfection with an identity in Christ. Thus, the products of our natural intentions are not inherently flawed, but rather inherently perfect, and flawed only by sin.
This two-part model of nature allows for an understanding of architecture’s role within nature. Architecture, and the built environment as a whole, is second nature, but deserves the same level of esteem as first nature does. This is because mankind’s inherent nature is good, as it is both of Creation and from God.
So that this may be true, it is the role of the architect to learn how to decipher whether their thoughts and decisions are from an inherently good nature or from a deceptive misleading sin. The architect is to then, in turn, embrace the good in order to elevate the product (a component of second nature) to the level worthy of its users, who are of first nature. The architect is to promote the design of products and environments of physical nature by seeking ideas of inherent nature.
Note: Concepts of first and second nature were influenced by William Cronon’s Nature’s Metropolis (1991).
Exhibits of Coursework (click to expand)