Guided by Mother Nature

Throughout the history of architectural design, embedded in the fundamentals is an instinctive awareness of the natural world around us – allowing us to not only appreciate but live alongside nature.

Whether it is the positioning of our homes to ensure access to the sun, or the orientation of our garden flora so that our blooms and buds grow to full potential – designers use mother nature as their architectural guide.

In Japanese architecture, buildings and structures are traditionally positioned facing south so to guarantee a full spectrum of streaming sunlight through the day. But in the case of the Katsura Imperial Villa in Kyoto, its design is hinged on another planet’s presence.

Purposefully positioned 61 degrees south-east, this villa within the grounds of Katsura was designed to precisely capture the first glimpse of the full moon – so that it appears directly in front of the building.

A moon viewing veranda was also incorporated into the design to effortlessly integrate the villa into spectacular natural surrounds, while the landscape is artistically shaped to show off the curves and bounds of the landscape while it bathes in the glowing moonlight. After the building’s original inaugural in the 17th Century, the villa was even famed as an elaborate teahouse to hold for moon-viewing parties for guests of founder Prince Hachijō Toshihito.

Deliberately nestled within nature, the Setouchi Retreat Aonagi hotel was designed by renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando and includes a significant, yet subtle design feature directed purely by the natural world.

Found on the roof of the hotel is an infinity pool facing out to the Seto inland Sea, and in Springtime the perfect place to catch a dazzling sunset high above treetops and civilisation below.

However, a fact not known to many is that during the Spring Equinox every year the sun takes centre stage by setting perfectly central to the infinity pool, and if the skies are clear then you may see a sight as beautiful as this. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this journal article and learn more about the connection between nature and architectural design. If you are looking for more inspiration content, design tips and exclusive images of our projects you can follow us on Instagram & Facebook.

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