chapter  11
29 Pages


The tenuous relationship between humans and nature may be the very reason that

architecture came to be. According to Vitruvius, Alberti, Laugier, and others, the need for

shelter-from rain, sun, and wind; from predators; and from extreme heat or cold-is

the origin of architecture.1 Nevertheless, the relationship between humans and nature,

as conceptualized by humans, has been ever changing. Across histories and cultures,

“nature” has been theorized in many ways: as adversary, comrade, deity, resource,

inspiration, terror, or sanctuary. As cultural perceptions of the relationship between nature

and humans have changed, so too has the debate about the relationship between

nature and architecture. At times, architects sought to overcome nature, building bridges,

dams, monuments, homes, and high rises in seemingly impossible conditions. At other

times, architects sought to “build with nature,” using indigenous building materials,

carefully considering climate, and utilizing existing topographies. At yet other times,

architects used nature as a source for design principles, insights, or aspirations.