The proposed study intends to examine how nature and natural designs play a role to influence modern architectural designs. Design is an important aspect of the architectural process in building, construction and the general built environment. Given that designs adopted in the modern built environment must be conscious about resource performance and sustainability in terms of conscious use of space, it is without doubt that assessing how nature and natural designs are used as design guides in architecture is a task worth undertaking. The proposed study shall therefore attempt ton examine the relationship between building design and the utilization of natural designs or designs that are available in natural environment. By studying and comparing the various types of built environments and evaluating their designs through careful examination of the designs used and the motivations behind using the designs, the study shall explore how the architecture of naturally available designs are used for modern built environment and how these designs affect modern architecture.
This undertaking and mode of approach should provide the possibility of finding out if there are any sets of guides or rules that provide guidance for utilizing natural designs for the built environment and further provide an opportunity to implicitly assess if there are varying architectural consequences and possibilities for the adoption of nature and natural designs in various built environments. The basic inspiration is that nature and natural designs are so integrated in modern architecture hence finding a major application in the built environment in building thus have effectively become a part of the modern architecture(Holm, 2006). This then means that influence of natural designs on modern architecture has significant consequences for the building design in addition to the architectural expression both in the exterior and in the interior and such influences are likely to extend to aspects such as design management. Cross (2004) has affirmed that the exploitation and characteristics of the various driving forces connected with natural designs touch on designing of other aspects including ventilation and thermal buoyancy. As a significant consequence, the use of nature and natural designs in modern architecture is an important parameter along with all the other considerations playing a part to the shaping of a building through features such as naturally induced airflow.
Architecture is presented in the existing literature as involving the process and product of planning, designing and construction buildings and other physical structures. Knippers and Speck (2012) notes that architects do not work in a vacuum but seek to construct buildings and physical edifices which are attractive but which also stand the test of time.
In order to achieve the twin objectives, several factors go into the type of structure that must be constructed at any particular point in time and in any place. The influence of natural design in architecture dates back to many years but with urbanisation and modernisation, the phenomenon has intensified, In the absence of studies which have examined the rationale behind the interaction between nature and architecture in China in more recent times, This research seeks to fill the gap.
Sustainable design management during the architectural process is an invaluable tool for the modern built environment to confront the challenges exhibited in the modern complex interplay of landscape architecture, urban planning, general architecture, finance and economics. Thus, for design management to make sense in our modern global economy, full of the listed challenges facing the built environment, it must be sustainable and able to add value to the built environment. In its part, design management encompasses design, strategy, and chain of supply to control a creative process and to support cultural creativity. The importance of design management for the built environment can be assessed from a multi-spectral angle that draws social, economic and environmental benefits, especially when sustainability is injected in it. Designs that are influenced by nature or natural designs must therefore have a common feature that leans toward ensuring proper design management. The purpose of the proposed study is to investigate how nature and natural designs influence modern architecture. This implies that the study shall further set on exploring how these influences are incorporated into the various aspects of modern architecture such as environmental consciousness, design management, sustainability among other important parameters.
This research is review how natural designs from plan, animals and physical environmental landscape continues to inspire architects in the construction of buildings and other physical edifices. To achieve this aim the four main objectives have been deduced to be achieved and these are as follows:
This section gives a preliminary review of the existing body of literature where studies that have delved into exploring the influence of nature and natural designs among other related aspects are reviewed. The section thus helps in boosting the philosophical foundation upon which the actual study shall be based.
The extents to which natural designs have been borrowed into the construction of architectural designs have been extensively analyzed in the existing literature. Some of the general views have been explained in studies such as by Amor, et al (1995), Smith (2007) and Vincent, et al (2006). To begin with Vincent, et al (2006) explains the two terms which are at the center of this research and these are nature and inspiration. Vincent, et al (2006) explains nature as referring to the physical, natural, universe and material world. Vincent, et al (2006) provides an expanded definition of nature by explaining that it incorporates the phenomena of the physical world collectively, including plants, animals, the landscape, and other features and products of the earth, as opposed to humans or human creations (Vincent, et al, 2006).
Inspiration on the other hand is explained by Zimmerman (1980) as the process of being enlivened or exalted emotionally. This is strong to the extent that it leads to mental stimulation or feeling. In the opinion of Smith (2007) the natural, physical world (making up of animals, plants, human beings and landscapes) have found their way into inspiring architectural design largely because they enliven humanity.
Smith (2007) provides thought provoking account of the interaction between urban nature and human design from the point of renewing the great tradition of humanity. Smith (2007) focuses specifically on city design and the inspiration it draws from it natural surroundings. Zimmer (1995) on the other hand explains that apart from the aesthetic features of natural designs such as egg shell, honey comb, most of the imitations of nature are done as the only way by which man can subdue nature. For example Marshall (2009) argues that the design of the boats, ships and the aircraft have all been learnt from the shape of bird and fishes in the sky and in the waters and these shapes allow them to float. Marshall (2009) again argues that sometimes the natural design influences architecture since it is the only way by which the expected benefit and use of that facility can be attained. One of these areas which have been examined by Marshall (2009) is the growing importance of the sustainable architecture. Marshall (2009) explains that some natural designs are adopted in the field of architecture to conserve energy in its use after construction. This may be seen in the kind of shapes which or colours used in architectural construction. Vincent, et al (2006) speaks about simplicity in architecture al construction by studying the process of construction of the spider’s web and how it has influenced the design of many other products and services. These are some of the f many studies which have looked at different dimension of the interaction between nature and architectural design and this is what this research will be devoted to evaluating.
Nature has provided a great point of reference for architects to come up with designs that ensure indoor air quality and thermal comfort in the perspective of air ventilation. Kleiven (2003), while exploring the architectural concepts, consequences and possibilities of employing natural designs and imitating nature in ventilation notes that the natural designs are more energy efficient than mechanical systems such as fans and this advantage makes it worth integrating natural designs into the mechanical designs hence gain from advantages offered by both designs while at the same time avoiding the demerits that any one of the designs would present to the built environment or the architectural process. Kleiven (2003) further expresses bold confidence that natural ventilation concept will continue to influence building design and modern architecture because of several factors. One of the factors that will continue making natural ventilation, according to the author, is the fact that while mechanical designs became highly popular toward the turn of the last century, they have been unable to provide the desired indoor climate.
In another study conducted by Bramley et al (2009), the author points out that the interior and exterior naturally ventilated structures must have a shape that is designed by the influence of nature and specifically designed that way to make use of the natural driving forces to aid in circulation of air from the exterior through its interiors. The author further argues that when nature and natural designs influence designing of buildings, the influence does not just shop in the shaping of the entire structure but must also be seen in the exterior of the structure such that the building body must be designed in such a way that it harnesses the natural driving forces that help in circulation of air into the building and drive air out of the building. In respect to this point, the study by Kadir and Jamaludin (2013) provides support to the argument above by pointing out that designs that are influenced by nature or natural designs with respect to ventilation can be seen from the shaping of building volumes and orientation of the entire building relative to the prevailing wind directions and the sun. This also has another implication on the modern architectural process in that using nature or natural designs implies that buildings and structures are made more site-specific hence the designers must develop increased awareness and understanding of the terms and potential of the construction site.
Yet, the use nature or natural design in assessing the ventilation goes a long way in influencing aspects that closely relate to the interior design. According to Roja (2013), buildings that have ventilation systems with nature or natural designs as main basis for design have an interior that manifests these influences through the manner in which interior spaces are organized and shaped to give low resistance air paths. In addition, since a naturally ventilated building depends on weaker driving forces to force air in and out of the building the organization and shaping of the spaces should be done in such a way that the pressure losses in the path should be adequately low to provide compensation for the weak air driving forces. This then means that rather than having ducts well-known from mechanical ventilation, the structure of a naturally ventilated building alongside its rooms, stairs and corridors among other features are used as air path. As can be seen, the studies clearly show that nature influences architecture in such a way that the exterior and the interior of the building or structure.
Looking back at the study by Kleiven (2003), the author points out that nature has influenced modern so much that structures and buildings with natural ventilation have come to occupy a category of their own commonly called by various names including “sustainable architecture,” or “green architecture” and this category of architecture is one that encompasses designs where technology or technical solutions have no major role in determining the form of the building. On the contrary, technology and technical solutions are only given the role poetry and sensuality in such architecture.
Looking at the benefits of design management highlighted above, it can be deduced that design is an important process that has several stakeholders interested in it. First, it has been highlighted that sustainability must be incorporated in the design process to ensure that the neighboring community does not feel shortchanged or excluded in the process given that there are several resources the communities will share and these include waste management and infrastructural resources. The client is another important stakeholder that wants an economically viable project and cost effective outcome. Aesthetic value of the design is an essential factor that environmentalists will be keen on by ensuring that the end-project does not lead to pollution. With all the merits already highlighted, this study is important for several reasons. First, it helps different stakeholders and managers in the organization understand design management and its relationship with the built environment.
In an academic enquiry conducted by Imrie (2012b) the author carries out an extensive analysis of the significance of design management and argues that analysis of design management helps different groups that are involved in the organizational setting understand benefits, which are obtained from product designs and differentiation strategy in relation to the built environment. With respect to the relationship between design management and disease control in the built environment, the study conducted by Laura (2003) established a relationship between urban design management process and human health in built environment. While the author mainly consulted peer-reviewed literature in environmental, health and planning fields, the study conclusively provide a direct link between design process and health of the living environment especially when evaluated from the perspective of physical and visual access to greenery at the parcel level (Laura 2003).
A totally different perspective and approach is given by Wang et al (2004), who in their study assess the importance of proper design management process in mitigating risks. In their findings, they established that proper design process can immensely help in mitigating many risks associated with international projects, more so those carried out in the developing world (Wang et al 2004). With respect to waste reduction also highlighted in the introductory section of this paper, the study by Price et al (2008) admonitions architects to include waste management in the design process since, as the results of the study established, waste management is never a priority in the design process yet over 30% of waste are essentially as a result of design decisions by architects.
According to the study by Chan and Yu (2005), contract strategy is very important in the success of design process. While not many studies have attempted to focus on contract strategy in the design process where nature and natural designs might be of significant importance, the study by Chan and Yu (2005) provides a good reference point in support for the need to address the issue of contract liability in the design process so that participants clearly understand their portion of liability in the process because the natural environment must be maintained in terms of the beauty and landscape. This implies that during the design process, nature and natural environment play a significant role such that the participants must incorporate and be ready to take the liability in case accountability is called for.
According to Craven (2013) designs that imitate the naturally available designs and nature in general are highly energy-efficient and function like living things. This, according to the author is due to the fact that the designs are customized based on the natural environment to capitalize on the local environment to and respond effectively to any climate changes. Additionally, Kleiven(2003) also adds that using nature as a guide in the design management or choice process gives the architect the opportunity of making efficient built environments based on similar design concepts that employ the natural environment as the principal guide into creating the desired landscape. In addition, according to Heiselberg, (2006) it becomes easier to incorporate the principles of sustainability into the architectural process when the naturally available designs are imitated or nature is used as a guide into design choice, development and management. Imrie (2012a) also admonitions that nature is a good for the architecture when the desired is such that universalism, universal design an equitable access to the built environment are desired attributes that also link with uniformity and continuity in the poetic flow of the built environment. These views are also echoed by the findings of the study carried out by Kadir (2013) who assessed the significance of universal design as an inevitable component of sustainable life and social development. In the study, Kadir (2013) notes that universally designed environments are efficient; they provide comfort and flexibility besides adaptability that is essential in ensuring that human life cycle does not get negative impact that may hinder residents’ participation in the community. This study in other words provides sufficient evidence that by use of nature and natural designs, modern architecture is capable of expanding the concept of social sustainability and fusing it into the architectural process. Earlier on in 2008 and 2009, Choguill and Bramley et al respectively had carried out different studies that came to the same conclusions that by making architectural designs that are in unison with the natural environment and defined by nature, the architecture carefully yet importantly incorporates the concept of social sustainability into his works and helps to further ensure construction of sustainable neighborhoods (Also Dempsey et al 2011). There seems to be extensive research that has been carried out in the past in order to relay the importance of using nature and natural designs in the architectural design management process. The reviewed literature appears to support the idea that nature and natural designs provide the modern architect with immense reference point for increasing efficiency, aesthetic value, social continuity and sustainability.
For instance, in the interview by Craven (2013), the author established that when architects capitalize on the natural sunlight, the built environment becomes effectively prized for its energy efficiency. This is based on the designs of Glenn Murcutt; a modern architect who designs houses that capitalize on natural light making their shape is long and low, besides often featuring verandas, skylights, amendable louvers, and impermanent screens. Such designs will have shapes that capitalize on the general shape and orientation of the environment such that they are designed to capture the sun based on the features of the surrounding environment. Besides the sun, Rojas (2013) argues that the wind is an important aspect that determines the nature and design of the built environment and this is because of the fact that every built environment needs air conditioning as an important aspect of the structure such that some of modern designs inspired by nature can be compared to a plant since they have the capability of opening and closing just like the petals of plants do. This means that a modern architect must observe the sun and listen to the wind as important attributes and inevitable components of the final built environment.
Nature has great influence in hybrid designs that incorporate the aspects of contemporary designs and nature in the same design. In the study conducted by Heiselberg (2006), the author provides several reasons for why modern architects develop designs that are partly original and partly influenced by nature. One of the reasons given by Heiselberg (2006) is that hybrid designs give more control than designs that are completely natural or completely contemporary. Such places that this can be seen are in hybrid ventilation designs. For instance in the built environment, and with specific reference to the works of Kleiven (2003), hybrid designs would allow for the majority of the hybrid ventilation components to be designed jointly in one process making the ventilation system and the control system in the design significant and integral parts of the building or structure. The fact that these parts are integral to the entire building structure and the fact that they need to be designed in one go implies that there needs to be a strong co-operation between the architect and the engineers. Control aspect also comes in the perspective that while the control system in hybrid designs can be very complex, it is essential that the entire control system alongside its control strategy is made with sufficient transparency and simplicity to allow for good user experience.
Heiselberg (2006) argues that hybrid systems that are developed from the influence of nature are advantageous because they are highly user-friendly and low cost. They improve user interaction experience hence the overall user satisfaction since they are developed by partly mimicking the natural environment, which the user naturally interact with. Kleiven (2003) also supports these arguments by stating that hybrid systems are not only energy-efficient but are also good in ensuring user autonomy by the way the user/system interface is made. While Keiven (2003) and Heiselberg (2006) specifically discuss hybrid ventilation designs, it is not difficult to notice that these points can be helpful in the general view of the merits of hybrid designs. For instance, in the study by Craven (2013) the author notes that designs that imitate the naturally available designs and nature in general are highly energy-efficient and function like living things and this is directly in lined with the stated views. Besides these, nature influences architectural designs to consider material use, spatial hierarchy and spatial connections (Kleiven 2003).
The methodology section provides an explanation of the methodologies used and how data is collected for the objectives of the research study to be achieved. Further, the section also gives an explanation of data analysis approach to be used on the collected data. The methodology section additionally takes all efforts to provide a philosophical rationale for the methodologies used in the study.
This research is a primary research and a qualitative research studies. The researcher is interested in more than statistics to rather uncover the reason behind the constant imitation of nature in architectures. The study samples the views of renowned architects who participate in an interview to discuss the role of nature in architectural construction.
In this way verifiable information from professionals is sourced and worked on. In all 10 architects are empanelled for this research and they are interviewed through a semiformal interview process. This is important to collect as much detail as possible. Although the research is basically a primary research there is the need to ensure that as much as possible the appropriate literature both theoretical and empirical research is analyzed extensively to set this research into an appropriate context.
Quantitative approach would have been used if the research study required dealing with any investigations and trials that would call for evaluating the possibilities and limitations of the factors in the study. On the other hand, qualitative research involves carrying a case study on different items within their concept and then considers the meaning of research objectives which people pay attention in their situations. Therefore the study employs qualitative analysis in order to investigate factors that influence design choice in the architectural process and relationship that exist between modern architecture and natural designs or nature (Sharma, 2011).
According to Creswell (2007) research design is a framework that guides the researcher in carrying out the study. They go on to state that research design links the research questions to the data collected. There are several research designs that a study can employ, these designs are grouped depending on their logic, results, process and objective of the study. It is also possible to describe a single project using different ways.
One of the research designs is quantitative research which is used to measure individuals, cases or units and evaluate limited aspects using numbers. On the other hand, qualitative research normally entails qualitative data and assesses a lot of aspects of a small population of cases over a short or long time and explains those aspects. Similarly, a researcher can use a mixed approach where he combines both quantitative and qualitative research methods.
Accordingly, this present research applied a mixed research design, to get better results since the each design complement another. As noted by Hewitt and Cramer (2007) the mixed approach offers more insights in the aspect being researched. Gupta (2011) add that qualitative method gives verbal data instead of numerical values. Therefore qualitative method does not use statistical analysis, but rather uses content analysis to describe and understand the research findings. Using this method, a researcher uses inductive reasoning and not deductive. Creswell (2007) explains that the key aspect projected through quantitative methods the validity of the measurement and its reliability. Using these two aspects, the researcher can generalize the findings and have a clear predication of the cause and effect.
Generally, there are two ways of collecting data in any research undertaking; data collection could either be through secondary data collection or by using primary method. Gupta (2011) explains that secondary data entails data collected from past studies, while primary research is data that is collected for the first time. The present research study basically intends to utilize primary data collection methods. Primary research can be obtained through qualitative methods or quantitative ones. For example, qualitative methods include interviews and observations, while surveys and some form of observations are quantitative. In this present research, primary data included responses given by respondents in the survey carried out, and the interviews that were done.
In this research undertaking, critical narrative technique is used to present the qualitative data collected into meaningful information for presentation and decision making. The main data collection instrument to be used in the study is the interview with questionnaires being the principal tools used for research in this study. The design and administration of questionnaires calls for several factors to be put into consideration, including the research budget and threshold of the desired response. According to Creswell (2007), survey questionnaires are effective in gathering facts, views, and comparative ideas of the respondent or different respondents about a similar subject matter. The main challenge with questionnaire method is their limitation to time constraint and increased budget when high volumes of data are involved (Denzin& Lincoln, 2000). The researcher opts to use interviews as the most suitable method of administering this study because the findings from interviews are generally viewed as flexible, and it becomes easier to generalize common issues relating to the topic under study (Creswell 2007). The researcher will also employ improvised telephone interviews to improve the quality of feedback.
Bryman and Bell (2007) point to the importance of using interviews in research by noting that interviews are carried out to establish important information as well as seek clarification on aspects that the questionnaires failed to capture. In respect to this, the research study employed semi-structured interview questions to guide the interviewing process. This approach is used to make sure that questions asked are same, and the information sought is similar. In addition, semi-structured interview helps both the interviewer and the respondents to be focused, while it allows a level of freedom and flexibility in obtaining the required information. According to Fontana and Frey (2001), when conducting interview-based research, it is essential to target individuals that have the required information. The authors (Fontana & Frey 2001) add that the by selecting key people with information and knowledge of the issue being researched reduces response error and this informed the researcher to select managers.
To trim down the biases level and boost reliability of the interview, the researcher will get in touch with target interviewees in advance to set convenient dates for the interview. This approach and strategy is supported by Mishler (2004), who advocates for researchers to get in touch with interviewees early enough to establish rapport and increase chances of collecting information. In addition, interview questions will be sent to the sampled respondents to examine prior to the interview date. The objective of undertaking these steps will be to ensure that details and correct information is collected within the shortest time possible. Recording of the responses will be done to allow later analysis.
When carrying out any type of research study, the researcher has to take into account the ethical matters concerning the study’s participants and their rights. For this proposed research study, the researcher shall take the indispensable precautions to guarantee that participants’ rights are not violated. As it is always a standard for most scientific undertakings of the nature similar to the proposed project, the researcher shall obtain informed consent from all participants before proceeding with the study. A consent form will be made part of every data gathering instrument used and such as surveys and interviews or questionnaires; parental consent will not be applicable because all the respondents expected to take part in the study shall be sampled for age above 18 years. The principle rationale of the consent form will be to clearly describe the objective and benefits of the research being carried out. The form will make it clear to the participants that by giving consent; the respondents will be volunteering to be part of the research study, although they will also be informed that they may terminate their contribution at any time based on any grounds without consequence. In addition, the participant-approval forms will inform the participants concerning their discretion and privacy, risks and merits of the research study, and whom to get in touch with for answers to enquiries regarding the research undertaking and participants’ rights. For the above highlighted reasons, the following shall be vividly stressed throughout the study:
From the study, it is possible to pinpoint with a summative conclusion that the influence of nature and natural designs is clearly evidenced in modern architectural undertaking in several ways. These areas of influence are expected in aspects such as effective design management process, which requires efficient use of established techniques of design choice and management to be adapted where necessary to suit the particular nature of the architectural task being performed. Much of the attention in respect to design choice and management has been paid to the overall research management, which is evidenced by the architectural techniques mimicking nature or natural designs and which were developed over many years.
Based on support from critical literature review, there is also evidence to support the general views of the past studies that found a close link between the intricate interaction between urban nature and human design from the point of renewing the great tradition of humanity. It is expected that the findings show a close link between the focus on modern city designs and the inspiration it draws from the natural surroundings. The aesthetic features that make the natural designs and nature appealing to the modern architecture to copy are going to be explored further and presented through a thorough critical narrative. These will include designs such as egg shell designs, honeycomb designs and many other naturally-available designs that not only inspire a sense of aesthetic value but also exude a drive to subdue nature. Additionally, the results of the study should reveal how nature and natural designs help modern architectural process in achieving sustainable architecture and social continuity. A further look at how nature influences modern architecture to achieve a benefit in terms of cost-saving has also been evaluated given the increased level of focus on cost-effective ventures and projects in the modern architectural process. This aspect ties in closely with the need for accountability and sustainability. It is not just the areas of sustainability, accountability, cost benefits of imitating nature or natural designs and social growth and continuity that has been assessed but at the end of the study it is imperative to ascertain the kind of influence played by nature and natural designs in generating energy-efficient structures, longer-lasting buildings or structures, and extend the inquiry into the role nature plays in ensuring construction of structures with varying shapes, spatial orientation and colours.
Planning of natural resources such as water, sunlight and wind have traditionally led to the view that changes in climatic conditions have led to the occurrence of untenable position given that there has been continuous improvement in the infrastructure and therefore it is expected that imitation of nature and natural should reveal some interaction between resource planning and the built environment or this consideration during the architectural process. The evaluation should ultimately reveal how nature and natural designs help in dealing with quality deterioration, disruption of fundamental services such as supply of urban water and deal with any changes in climate conditions, which have the potential of affecting the quality of water in a number of ways.
This study is built on the inevitable significance of design in architecture and the additionally important source of design given the need for design process management and accountability. For this reason, the study undertakes to investigate the influence of nature and natural designs in modern architecture bearing inn mind that nature has extensively influenced areas such as ventilation systems in built structures and natural designs have continued to be appealing in such a way that they have been incorporated effectively with mechanical ventilation systems to generate an outcome of composite ventilation systems that are more efficient, more long lasting and aesthetically more appealing. The same has been in designs that are conscious in relation to the spatial orientation of the structures as it can be seen with structures that incorporate direction of the prevailing winds and this extends to the way the sun is also incorporated into architectural designs to ensure natural light into the built environment.
With all the above in mind, the study takes a qualitative approach that is carried out alongside critical narrative technique to present the qualitative data collected into meaningful information for presentation and decision making. The main data collection instrument to be used in the study is the interview with questionnaires being the principal tools used for research in this study. The design and administration of questionnaires calls for several factors to be put into consideration, including the research budget and threshold of the desired response. Given that the study takes a qualitative approach, all efforts are taken to ensure high credibility and reliability as well as validity in the qualitative study sense. One of the ways is through undertaking of critical review of literature.
While it is expected that the project will be complete by the end of the fourth month, every effort is made to ensure that ethical considerations are adhered to during the entire period the study lasts. With respect to the results and findings of the study, it is expected that at the end of the study, it will be possible to conclusively identify the several ways with which nature and natural designs influence modern architectural undertaking in various ways. These areas of influence are expected in aspects such as an effective design management process, which requires efficient use of established techniques of design choice and management to be adapted where necessary to suit the particular nature of the architectural task being performed.
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