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Landscape Architecture
 
Integrating nature into the built environment
How can one integrate nature into the built environment? What are the basic guidelines that one should follow while doing it?
M Shrestha
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Integrating nature into the built environment
Dear Milee,

There are many anwsers to that quiestions. However, IMHO, the basic guidelines for integrating architecture with nature were established now almost 100 years ago by a pioneer of modern movement Le Corbusier in his '5 points of modern architecture'. Two of these points, at least, deal with allowing nature to enter into homes and buildings; firstly, the building should be raised one level of the ground by the means of pillars, thus allowing for garden benaht the house, and disrupting the existing enviroment on ground as little as possible. Second, the ground which was taken from nature for the location of the house should be compensated by turning the roof (flat roof) of the house in the garden-terace. This so called fifth-facade (on on the top of the house) IMHO is extremly important, especialy today, since vast housing settlements in suburbs consume enormous areas of natural enviroments; at least some part, even a symbolic one, of this natural enviroment can be saved by raising it upon the roofs of the houses, rather than burying it benaht the foundations.

Corbusier planed huge settlements based ony his five points program, and esepcialy these two points I mentioned. His villages and cities were suposed to float in mid-air upon pillars, with greens runing benaht bulidings and atop of them. This, IMHO, is so far the best idea of integrating nature and architecture into one, harmonious whole.

best regards,
Lucius
Luka Trkanjec
Integrating nature into the built environment
While i think that what luka has mentioned certainly makes sense, I do believe that there are many other facets of nature and the built environment. To begin with, a lot depends on which climate you are talking of. The Occident and the Orient have vastly different viewpoints of nature and world view. In hot and dry or arid context, nature is not always green grass and plants. Trees are more important as they provide us with shade which is very welcome in this kind of an environment. But that is just one perspective on nature and building.

I think, we have to admit one thing for certain. Any act of building destroys the original vegetation on site. Not only that, the production of building materials also destroy vast tracts of land (whether it is cement or stone or wood).

A wholistic approach to integration of nature and the built environment would therefore necessiate a broader understanding of nature and result in a process of construction which is sensitive to nature in terms of building materials used and the response to climate.

We tend to forget that response to climate is one of the ways of responding to nature. It is evident in the vernacular architecture of any place; which is why the vernacular architecture of hot and humid climate is very different from that of a hot and dry one. depending on the climatic conditions, the primary role of the building could either be providing shade and relief from hot winds or providing shelter from rain but augmenting natural ventilation.

I feel that although planting trees and potted plants is a good thing, it is a very superficial way of looking at integrating nature into the built environment.
Vishwanath Kashikar
Integrating nature into the built environment
Hi ,
I agree to what has already been said but integrating nature into the built environment is not alone planting trees getting fresh air and responding to the climate. It goes much beyond that, a building in harmony with nature is the one which compliments it and does not erase away in any way its essential elements. For nature to integrated in the built environment it becomes crucial to see to it that the built form harms nature in the minimum bot during its construction and while it functions. This would definitely include the materials that are going into its construction, then how much energy would it extract from nature to sustain itself, what if any harmful elements is it giving to the environment around it as is if was a sink for all wastes.
Though there seem to be guidelines that people would set for themselves while building but the basic that everyone should follow is to disturb the ecology of the site in the minimum. For example if the site is contoured one then flattening may seem the easiest way out but surely not the best.A better approach would be to built around nature on the same levels. Finally the basic elements of nature trees, water, soil, air, sun, etc. can always be brought inside the built environment in a trial of giving back to nature what was snatched from it in the course of construction.
Neetu Singh
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