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Organic Architecture

Organic Architecture in the BVI

“Form follows function—that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union.”
—Frank Lloyd Wright

A search for the definition of "organic architecture" displayed image results as varied as Kendrick Kellogg’s mushroom-looking High Desert House, Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Falling Water, a beehive-shaped home in Cincinnati and the Sydney Opera House.


“Organic architecture,” Wikipedia says, “is a philosophy of architecture which promotes harmony between human habitation and the natural world through design approaches so sympathetic and well integrated with its site that buildings, furnishings, and surroundings become part of a unified, interrelated composition.” This architectural outlook is a perfect fit for the diverse landscapes in the BVI. It can be seen in many of the Roger Downing & Partner designed structures at Rosewood Little Dix Bay, Necker Island, Oil Nut Bay and private residences dotted throughout the beaches and hillsides of the BVI.
Author Alen Hess, in Organic Architecture: The Other Modernism, proposes organic architecture and its curvy, harmonic style as an alternative to the cold, glass-and-metal structures of modernism. “For a public bored with glass-box architecture,” Hess writes, “the dream of a home of warm natural wood, stone with curving organic surfaces was widely appealing.” This same philosophy appeals to BVI residents who want a home that connects with their surroundings—whether they want to build on a cliff, among the BVI’s famous boulders or tucked between palm trees on the beach. 


According to Roger Downing & Partner, the contemporary philosophy of organic architecture, “can never be static in nature; the definitions must evolve with both the ancient mechanics and the forms of nature along with the advances in technology and construction methods. It must also include green building practices and sustainable design elements and systems. To be completely organic, requires the complete and successful integration of every single element that produces a building, including the crews constructing them and the occupants using the buildings. Through careful design, the building can begin to educate its users—where both begin to symbiotically work together to maintain each other.”
While some organic structures aim to integrate with the environment, others achieve beauty that competes with the natural surroundings by offering homes that become works of art themselves.

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