Organic Buildings and Environmental Design Technology


This research paper explores the importance of organic architecture/ buildings within the context of organic architecture/ building and environment designing technology development. The practical application of this study will be assessed, along with the various intentions that this study hopes to fulfill. A number of concepts that are often applied in the field of architecture/ building technology seek to create a balance, harmony even, between the built/ natural environment and humanity. The intention of this research paper is to help shed light on the various developments that have over the years taken place in the field of organic architects/ buildings and environmental design technology. Apart from that, this research paper hopes to provide a body of knowledge to the various professionals and specialists in this area as well as all the related ones. It is an easy reading paper for householders and space users to lighten them with the importance of organic architect/ buildings technology and the need for it for well again environment and humanity future. This topic is too large and wide, containing too many areas, which will each need to be researched. Many individuals think it is costly and un-necessarily to seek organic technology in architecture/ building. The anticipated limitations to this study are highlighted, along with the problem statement that leads to the evaluation of a research study of this kind. Such a study would utilize a mixed method of data collection along with research study questionnaires to aid in data collection.

Organic Built Environment Design Technology

Currently, organic architectures are of significance to the field of architectural design and building technology. Such topical themes as healthy and sustainable buildings, cultural identity and user participation get integrated (Du Plessis, 2002), thanks to the concept of organic architecture. Building form, material, color, light, and water as elements of the building also get a chance to be experimented with in organic architecture (Charter, 2002). Organic buildings also represent an ecologically sustainable and sound building technique. In addition, organic buildings may help express the ecological consciousness of a building’s surroundings, for purposes of attaining life processes and ecological cohesion (Barrett & Sexton, 2000).

Besides, organic architecture plays a vital role as far as the creation of a healthy environment is concerned (Alofsin, 1993 and Du Plessis, 2002). This is possible since the concept conceives a building not as a ‘machine’, but as an ‘organism’. As such, it manages to uphold the life processes of its occupants. Still, the built environment is known to provide a constant flow of perceptual values, not to mention sensory impressions (Harris, 2000). What this means is that there are various building installations that create a more tangible relationship between the built environment and individuals. Moreover, organic architecture not only provides identity to certain built environment structures but also facilitates the attainment of a cultural dimension through an integrative outlook on the building. This results in enlivened spirits and nourished souls.

This research paper hopes to improve the knowledge of the various professionals that are found within the field of architecture and building design, in order to enlighten them on the issue of organic architecture, and how it is interrelated to such other terms as organic building, green building, and green architecture. By exploring the historical perspective of this technology, this paper hopes to explore the various dimensions that the built environment shares with the natural environment, and how over the years, man has sought to maintain harmony between the two environments. An exploration of the benefits that the organic buildings provide to the natural environment shall also help the professionals in this field to appreciate the need to uphold the harmony that the pioneers of this technology sought to keep. For the homeowners, this research paper hopes to enable them to appreciate diversity in terms of the built environment, in addition to enlightening them on how the professionals in the field struggle to maintain a harmonious balance between buildings and the surrounding environment. For the designers, this research paper, by way of exploring several building designs, hopes to enlighten them on a variety of building designs that they could choose from, or even seek to improve.

One of the aims of an organic building is for the maintenance of harmony between, on the one hand, the built environment and on the other hand, the natural environment (Harris, 2000). One way through which this harmony is sustained is the utilization of green building products and materials in the construction of organic buildings. These products and materials have been known to promote on a global scale, the declining nonrenewable resource, thereby enhancing their conservation (Kennedy et al, 2002). By way of incorporating the green building materials into the various organic building projects, this act alone may very well lead to a reduction in the environmental impacts often accompanying transportation, extraction, manufacturing, recycling, re-use and disposal of the renewable materials (Harris, 2000).

Statement of the Problem

The intention of this research paper is to help shed light on the various developments that have over the years taken place in the field of organic buildings and environmental design technology. Apart from that, this research paper hopes to provide a body of knowledge to the various professionals in the area such as design engineers and architects, in addition to enlightening the users of such architectural buildings of the benefits of this technology.

Moreover, this research paper hopes to highlight the selection criteria for organic building materials, in addition to an exploration of the codes of standards for such building materials that have received the approval of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This is in addition to an assessment of the historical origin of organic buildings and organic architecture, and how the professionals in this area have attempted to maintain harmony between the built environment and the natural environment. This researcher anticipates the research study at hand to be limited with regard to the time framework for which it is to be carried out. As such, it may not be possible to evaluate and explore all the areas that the writer may have wished to examine. In addition, there is a limitation with regard to the amount of literature that is accessible; as far as, the topic at hand is concerned. This means that the research may be limited from exhaustively exploring the research questions to the study.

Definition of Key Terms

Organic Architecture

According to Minke (2008), organic architecture is an architectural philosophy that upholds harmony between, on the one hand, the natural world and habitation on the other hand. This is achieved by way of design approaches that are integrated in such a manner as to blend with the building site, its furnishings, as well as the surroundings, resulting in an interrelated and unified composition (Minke, 2000). Organic architecture describes a new approach to design that appears to go beyond the common buildings that we encounter in our daily lives.

Organic Building

In his article, “Organic buildings are the chic, new trend,” Kim (2008) asserts that organic building is a technique in building design that makes use of renewable resources for the maintenance of balance between the built and natural environment.

Green Building

Steadman (2008) refers to green building as a sustainable technology that comes about as a result of a design concentrated on enhancing the efficiency of such sources as water, energy, and materials, and at the same time also diminish the impacts that a building may have on the environment and the health of humans fro the entire life of such a building (Anastas & Warner, 1998 and Austrade media release, 2008). This is made possible thanks to a better building design, siting, construction, maintenance, operation and removal (Steadman, 2008).

Green/Sustainable Architecture

Green architecture as a general term refers to architectural design techniques that are environmentally conscious (Steadman, 2008). The issue of sustainability, coupled with the political and economic issues that seem to put pressure on the world, also plays a significant role in framing green architecture. From a broader perspective, green architecture seeks to reduce building impact on the environment through enhanced moderation and efficiency in energy, material, and developmental space use (WS Atkins Consultants, 2001).

Environmental Design

In their book, “Product Design of the environment; a life cycle approach”, Guidance, La Rosa and Resistant (2006) have defined the term environment design as a field of spatial and physical development with a view to creating certain specific experiences, or solving of particular needs.

Technology Development

Technology development is a term that refers to a research and development process relating to technology (Hendricks, 2001).

Review of Related Literature

Organic architecture as a concept in the field of the built environment attempts to maintain harmony between the natural environments on the one hand, and the built environment, on the other hand (Snell, 2004 and Steadman, 2008). In other words, this is an attempt at going past the everyday buildings that we as individuals encounter day in, day out. The concept is also related to organic design (Halliday, 2002 and Graham, 2002), another concept that also tries to establish a balance between the built and natural environment (Harris, 2000). Basically, organic building and environmental design technology has been undergoing massive development over the years (Pearson, 2001), although some of the medieval concepts that such pioneers as Frank Lloyd helped established are still utilized, either in totality or as a modification (WS Atkins Consultants, 2001 and Coventry & Woolveridge, 2002).

In light of this, this research paper hopes to shed more light in terms of the similarities and differences between the various terms such as organic building, organic architecture, green building, and green architecture. Furthermore, the importance and benefits of these concepts shall also be explored, along with the various selection criteria that are there for the materials and products meant for organic building. Besides, this research paper also wishes to explore the potential benefits of the information contained herein to the various professionals in the area of environmental design and technology, such as the architects and designers, not to mention the users of such buildings that have been discussed in the paper. This research paper shall also deem it necessary to explore the various key terms utilized.

Criteria for Selecting Building Materials for Organic Building

In general, those materials for building organic architectural buildings, and which are vied as being ‘green’ entails such plants materials as bamboo (this is because as a material, bamboo enjoys a rapid rate of growth, and hence is renewable), lumber from sustainable and certified forests, as well as straws. In addition, there are also dimension stones, recycled metal, ecology blocks, as well as recycled stones (Kats, Alleviants, Berman, Mills & Perlman, 2003 and Pearson, 2008).

In addition, the EPA has also offered the suggestion of making use of industrially recycled goods, like coal products of combustion, demolition debris found at the sites of construction projects, and foundry sand (Pearson, 2008). Moreover, there is a need to ensure that the materials for the building are both extracted and processed within the locality of the site of construction. This is aimed at reducing the levels of energy that often set in during the transportation of these materials for building.

Product/Material Selection Criteria

The issue of resource efficiency is important here. In this case, the product or material for the building should be made of recyclable content, plentiful, natural, and renewable. In addition, the material should have the capacity to a manufacturing process that is resource-efficient, meaning that they should help in waste minimization, consumption of energy, while at the same time also lessening the greenhouse gases emission (HKCA, 2002 and Ki-moon, 2008).

Furthermore, such materials ought to be sourced locally, as they will save on the resources and energy of transporting these to the building sites (Lange et al, 1998). Moreover, such materials should be durable, recyclable, and reusable. The organic building is also involved with the improvement of indoor air quality. For this reason, the building materials in use should either be non-toxic or emit low toxic levels. Such products should also emit minimal chemical amounts, be resistant to moisture and be maintained in a healthful manner (HKCA, 2002).

Historical Development

From its day-to-day usage, the term ‘organic’ often refers to plants and animals. Prehistoric architecture, construction, or building techniques as housing need was innately organic, based on natural forms, structures, simple, and organic local materials. More deeply, it was part of a spiritual continuum, and natural/ built environment of continued existence and productiveness, life and death that linked earth to spirit. All things flow and change in nature but are directed by eternal and immutable patterns, forms, or ideas that are the true reality.

However, the concept, as used in organic architecture by Frank Lloyd assumes a new meaning. Frank Lloyd is credited with having introduced the concept of ‘organic’ into architectural philosophy during the early part of 1900. Lloyd’s career spanned some 70 years, during which time he gave lectures and published articles, in addition to writing books in the field (Harris, 2000). Frank’s body of work appears to be consistent with his philosophy on organic architecture, as well as the meaning and scope of the same, which acted to further develop his architectural development.

The principal ideology of this concept is that architecture as a discipline enjoys an intrinsic connection with both time and site. The publication, “The principle” by Lloyd seems to be one of relating humankind to nature through the landscape, the utilization of novel materials such as steel and glass for purposes of gaining more spatial architecture, in addition to the development of the architectural character of a building (Kennedy et al, 2002 and Steadman, 2008). Neo-styles internalization, coupled with an increase in the number of new techniques for building, led to a majority of the architects at the time to come up with a novel style of building that was also “in tune with their times” (Rattenbury, 2000 and Hendricks, 2001). It is through such principles as constructivism, functionalism, and Art Nouveau that organic architecture as a concept in the building came into being. Organic architecture pioneers appear to have found inspiration to this building concept out of various nature-induced principles. While these organic architecture pioneers may have laid emphasis on divergent aspects of the new technology (Elizabeth & Adams, 2001 and Du Plessis, 2002), nevertheless their approaches, from an individual perspective, seems to form an articulate totality.

Benefits of Organic Building/Architecture

One of the aims of an organic building is for the maintenance of harmony between, on the one hand, the built environment and on the other hand, the natural environment (Harris, 2000). One of the ways through which this harmony is sustained is the utilization of green building products and materials in the construction of organic buildings. These products and materials have been known to promote on a global scale, the declining nonrenewable resource, thereby enhancing their conservation (Pearson 2001 and Kennedy et al, 2002).

Moreover, by way of incorporating the green building materials into the various organic building projects, this act alone may very well lead to a reduction in the environmental impacts often accompanying transport, extraction, manufacturing, recycling, re-use and disposal of the renewable materials (Harris, 2000 and Rattenbury, 2000 ). Through recycling and re-use of the natural materials, there is the sustenance of these. The effect of this is that the human race benefits from available natural resources, as they are somewhat preserved from being depleted. In addition, the recycling and re-use of building materials mean that the environment is not polluted readily. Organic architecture is not only fashionable, but it also aids in the conservation of scarce natural resources. This means that with the use of organic architecture and organics buildings, there is a likelihood that more people shall have materials for construction in the future. As such, it may be regarded as a sustainable form of construction. Moreover, organic architecture is both inspiring and attractive (Kim, 2008), in addition to the establishment of harmony with the natural environment, and hence a source of inspiration to m humanity.

Impact of Organic Building/ Architecture

Organic buildings are meant to lessen the impact that buildings often have on the environment. It is worth of note here that building often account for a greater portion of the land underuse, in addition to the consumption of both water and energy, not to mention an alteration of the atmosphere and air. For example, in the United States alone, over 2 million acres of wildlife habitat, open space, as well as wetlands are developed on an annual basis (Crowther, 1995, U.S Department of Energy, 2006 and Kim, 2008). By 2006, about 40 percent of the overall energy that was consumed in the European Union and the United States was utilized by building (Jason, 2008). Approximately 54 percent of the energy consumption share of the United States went to residential houses, while the commercial buildings (Elizabeth & Adams, 2000 and Austrade media release, 2008) consumed the remaining 46 percent. Furthermore, buildings were seen to consume about 68 percent of the overall electricity that the United States utilized in 2002. Close to 38 percent of the sum of carbon dioxide that is emitted in the United States could be credited to the buildings. Besides, buildings in the United States have been shown to account for about 13.2 percent of the entire water that the United States consumes on a daily basis (Weaver, Jansen, van Grootveld, van Spiegel & Vergragt, 2000). On the basis of these statistics, therefore, it becomes crucial that a balance be struck between, on the one hand, the levels of natural resources that are often consumed by buildings and on the other hand, the pollution levels that such buildings will emit, for purposes of ensuring sustainability in the future. This is according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (Sobha, 2007).

The organic building enables humans to be creative, in that they can integrate elements of the natural environment with that of the built environment, thereby achieving harmony in their construction (Kim, 2008). In addition, organic building enables people to seriously re-consider the issue of wasting natural resources, seeing that these are quite scarce. Given that organic architecture makes use of renewable raw materials, what this means is that their sustainability may be established. As such, humans, using organic buildings, take part in the exercise of conserving natural resources.

Exploring Organic Architecture

As an architectural philosophy, organic architecture upholds harmony between the natural worlds and the human habitation, via design concepts that are integrative and sympathetic with an architectural site in such a manner as to produce an interrelated and unified composition with the furnishings, the building itself, and also its surroundings (Anastas & Warner, 1998 and Frej, 2005). Such architects as Frank Lloyd Wright, Bruce Goff, Bruno Zevi, Louis Sullivan, and Gustav Stickley and in recent times, Laurie Baker and Anton Alberts, have especially popularized the concept of organic architecture.

Furthermore, the entire design process by Frank Lloyd has sought to translate this architectural concept, in which fundamental principles of order, materials and, motifs keep on recurring all over an entire building (Kats, Alevantis, Berman, Mills & Perlman, 2003 and Wright, 2009). The notion of an “organic architecture” describes not just the unembroidered association that a building bears towards the natural surroundings; there is also the issue of a carefully thought design of a building, akin to an amalgamated organism (Lange, Grottker & Otterpohl 1998, Graham, 2002 and Hopkins, 2002). Geometries all the way through the building by Wright assembled an essential theme and mood.

Fundamentally the concept of “organic architecture” also happens to be the exact design behind each of the various building elements: right from the windows and onto the floors, and also the various chairs that shall eventually occupy the space that is a building (Hendriks, 2001, Hiemstra, 2008 and Wright, 2009). As can be seen, the idea here is to create harmony between the building and the surrounding environments.

An Assessment of Environmental Design

The environmental design describes the process that seeks to address the parameters of the natural environment during the devising of programs, plans, buildings, policies, or products (Imes, 2008). The conventional discreet design could be said to have taken into consideration the environmental factors; yet, it is the environmental movement, which came into being during the 1960s that has explicitly transformed this concept (Weaver, Jansen, van Grootveld & van Spiegel, 2000). From the perspective of a study area, environmental design entails the natural, built, as well as human environments (U.S Department of Energy, 2006). In addition, environmental design is concerned with modeling both the social and physical interventions and which are often informed by both the environmental; processes and human behavior.

Furthermore, environmental design, for the most part, seeks answers to one of the basic questions that the human race ponders: how the human race is capable of residing in the current world, and the necessary information towards their living actions. As can be seen, this is an extremely complex undertaking; one that may very well call for an approach that is interdisciplinary in nature (Wright, 2009). The conventional model of environmental design attempts to develop both the exterior and interior physical environments, with a view to attaining functional or aesthetic needs on a daily basis (Simpson, 2008). In addition, it could also be with a view to arriving at a certain form of a unique experience, with an emphasis on the environment designed by humans.

Proposed Methodology

For purposes of this research project, the researcher would propose the utilization of both primary and secondary data collection methods. In other words, such a study would utilize a mixed method of data collection. According to Creswell (2008), when both qualitative and quantitative data collection techniques are used to analyze and understand a given situation, then the researcher of such a technique could be said to be utilizing a mixed method. This kind of method provides a better understanding and more results that are reliable for the researcher.

Research Questions

A research study to the topic in question here would be interested in the answering of a number of research questions, as below:

  • How does organic architecture/ building, as a concept, differ from green architecture/ building?
  • What is the relationship between organic architecture/ building and the natural environment?
  • What are the selection criteria of the materials and products for organic architects/ buildings?
  • What are the benefits that organic architecture/ building afford to the environment and humanity?

By undertaking a research study on organic architecture/ building, it is anticipated that the resulting research findings will help to augment the already available literature on the same topic.

Moreover, it is hoped that this research study shall help people to appreciate the benefits of organic architecture, and more so at a time when the renewable resources in the world are being depleted at a faster rate than they are being replaced. Besides, this research study is expected to help the professionals in this field to appreciate the need to uphold the harmony that the pioneers of this technology sought to keep, in addition to exploring better ways of applying the techniques of organic architecture. Given the rate at which the natural resources are being depleted, coupled with the rise in the human population, this writer is of the opinion that organic building is the way to go. With organic buildings, man is in a position to create harmony between, on the one hand, the natural resources and on the other hand, the built environment. In any case, organic buildings give structures a human touch, seeing that there are inclusions of the natural environment that are inte4grated with those of the built environment to create balance.


There are several concepts used in the field of architecture and building technology that seek to create a balance, harmony even, between the built environment and the natural environment. These include organic architecture, organic building, green architecture, and green building. In one way or the other, these terms bear a correlation with the natural environment. For example, there are those professionals in the field of organic architecture who like to view the techniques as an organism, as opposed to a structural technology. The main aim of organic architecture, along with the green architecture, and the associated concept of the organic building is to facilitate the sustenance of natural resources, which is why these concepts emphasize various evaluation criteria for the material and product often used in the construction of such kinds of buildings. It is from such a context that this research study finds its basis, in addition to providing a proposed research methodology.

We can no longer ignore the impact we have on the earth’s ecosystems. The way we live, the choices we make in providing for our needs, will have an enormous influence on the quality of life of those who will follow us. How we build our homes, both in design and choice of materials, is one of the most significant ways that we can affect our future. Studying how we interact with our environment and ways to improve this relationship. As consumers, space users, householders, professionals, and specialties; we are frequently confronted with life style decisions that can affect our environment. There are a few choices in outlives that can make a big difference in what the quality of life will be for those who follow us. Going with the flow of our culture is hard to avoid, and unfortunately, the flow is not in the right direction for evolving a sustainable future.


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