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The Fluidity of Nature in Architectural Response

By Maria Lorena Lehman — Get more articles like this sent to your email HERE.

Image Credit: © Annca | Pixabay


Nature is made of a multitude of rhythms, patterns, and cycles, and such relationships drive its dynamic fluidity. One can understand these relationships in nature as the water cycle, nitrogen cycle, and carbon cycles of respiration and photosynthesis. (1) But what do these natural rhythms, patterns, and cycles have to do with environmental design? A lot. You see, as emerging technologies continue to proliferate as they are ubiquitously embedded into everyday environments, architecture and urban design becomes evermore responsive to occupant or citizen interaction. This responsiveness can be seen as a type of personalization, intelligence, and even beauty when it embodies fluidity that parallels the rhythms, patterns, and cycles of nature. For example, if an environment interacts with a patient to help them while healing in a hospital, it can do so in a way that proactively nurtures the healing cycle. This means that the hospital environment is designed to symbiotically adapt to solve for patient needs and goals as it dynamically changes in real-time.

With the continual development of biomimicry that learns from nature to create design solutions, it is important to see the “bigger picture” as well. This is about more than replicating nature’s design exactly as it presents itself. Instead, to embody the fluidity of nature within environmental designs, an even deeper philosophical design awareness is needed. A designer with such an awareness may ask: How can a building “breathe” in and out to help its occupants as they strive to reach their goals? Such an environmental responsiveness becomes true fluidity where interaction is a dynamic conversation, instead of a one-off canned response. By understanding, designing, and experiencing the built environment as a fluidity with which to engage, new opportunities arise to create solutions that mitigate or eliminate the most challenging problems facing our world.


(1) King, Paul. (2018) “The Three Cycles of the Ecosystem”. Sciencing. [Accessed Online: November 24, 2019]






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Maria: I came across your website through a reference in today's Architect Weekly ezine and am delighted I did. I'll bookmark your site and check back often. I read the first article and then the second and thirty minutes later realized how much time had passed. I've been practicing for thirty years and have always missed the stimulation of academia. I find each of your brief dissertations sort of like a day in design studio. Thanks for the inspiration.

Ron Ward
AI Group Design
I am excited to see you touch a vein of values in architecture, I have been chasing myself for years. Your depth of involvement in these very deep subjects is really beautiful and passionately dealt with and well written. Sound, color and value, shape, texture, scale, smell.... all definitive measures of the spaces we should be alert to. [...] I will savor the rest of your investigation of sensuality in architecture. I'm Glad I found you.

Dennis McLaughlin
McLaughlin Architect
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Maria Lorena Lehman is a multi award-winning visionary author, designer, and educator from the United States. Maria holds a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from Virginia Tech and a Master in Design with Distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. CLICK HERE to learn more.

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