New Organic Architecture: The Breaking Wave

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9780520232891: New Organic Architecture: The Breaking Wave

New Organic Architecture is a manifesto for building in a way that is both aesthetically pleasing and kinder to the environment. It illuminates key themes of organic architects, their sources of inspiration, the roots and concepts behind the style, and the environmental challenges to be met. The organic approach to architecture has an illustrious history, from Celtic design, Art Nouveau, Arts and Crafts, to the work of Antoni Gaudí and Frank Lloyd Wright. Today there is a response to a new age of information and ecology; architects are seeking to change the relationship between buildings and the natural environment. In the first part of his book, David Pearson provides a history and assessment of organic architecture. The second part comprises statements from thirty architects from around the world whose work is based on natural or curvilinear forms rather than the straight-line geometrics of modernism. Each statement is accompanied by full-color illustrations of one or several of the architects' built projects.

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Review:

The very term "organic architecture" may sound like some faddish throwback to the earth-shoe era, or even something completely new, when it fact it's neither. As explained in the first part of this vibrant softcover assembled by Pearson--director of the green-friendly architectural consulting firm Gaia Environments and author of The Gaia Natural House Book--it's been around for millennia, whenever people built things that worked in harmony with their natural surroundings, made use of local materials, or reflected the laws of science and patterns of nature in their construction. (In other words, everything from Stonehenge and Gothic cathedrals, which seized on the natural rules of physics rather than iron and concrete to reach to the heavens, to the Prairie homes of Frank Lloyd Wright and the sinuous, assymetrical lines of Antonio Gaudi and Art Nouveau, inspired by viewing nature both with the naked eye and under a microscope.)

The second part of the book is a completely delightful, instructive look at recent "new organic" architecture from 30 cutting-edge architects in all corners of the globe (truly), made up of beautiful full-color photographs and usually smart commentary from the architects themselves. The sheer beauty and innovation of most of the works shown here--from the way they insinuate themselves into their natural terrain to the ingenious ways they use regional materials to how they turn the whole notion of interior design on its head--is an embarrassment of eco-sensitive riches; unlike most other design anthologies, there's not a clunker in the bunch here. Fabrizio Carola's Kaedi hospital in Mauritania is a warmly glowing interconnected complex of fired-brick pods and passageway. Balkrishna Doshi's Hussain-Doshi Gufa in Ahmedabad, an undulating sequence of caves, makes the cyber-desert structures of the last Star Wars movie look banal. Renzo Piano's impossible-to-describe cultural center for the Kanak civilization in New Caledonia reinterprets the very nature and purpose of such a site in a jaw-droppingly original idiom. And if you don't long to live for at least a night in one of the upside-down, inside-out, backside-front homes designed by Bart Prince, Eugene Tsui, Javier Senosiain, or Eisaku Ushido and Kathryn Findlay, your senses truly must be made of something not found in nature. --Timothy Murphy

From the Inside Flap:

"New Organic Architecture is an important book. It would be significant if it were only seen as the defining work on contemporary organic architecture. I know of no other volume that brings together the works and words of such a wide range of currently practicing organic architects. The beginning sections of the book do a masterful job of both summarizing the main principles of organic architecture and setting the movement in its historical context. But I believe that the significance of New Organic Architecture goes beyond its role in cataloguing the current arc of a long-standing movement. David Pearson grasps what too few people see: that organic architecture fills the void at the heart of the current ecological building movement."—Carol Venolia, Architect, author of Healing Environments

"David Pearson's New Organic Architecture: The Breaking Wave is a remarkable book. Visually it makes the connection between the organic in nature and in design. Verbally, without getting bogged down in the usual architectural jargon, it offers a broad and comprehensive review of sources,and current work with statements by architects themselves. This is an inspirational book for a broad audience. It is seminal - a seed that will flower into new ideas, and a new vision of what is possible - in the same way that Bernard Rudofsky's Architecture Without Architects did thirty years ago. The layout - connecting pictures of architecture and nature, with pithy quotes and descriptions interweaving history, philosphy,design, and culture is like a filed of wildflowers in full bloom. This book is much needed, and I predict will have a long and successful run."—Sim Van der Ryn

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