With our worlds population growing more and more each day, the priority of almost all landowners is to house as many people, as cheap as possible. This, in time, has lead to most of our cities to resemble grey, concrete copies of each other. With this now becoming the norm, many who live in built up cities crave the benefits which can only come with being surrounded by nature.
When strolling through a city, potted plants on window shelves and the occasional tree on the pavement show the occupants compromise for living without direct access to nature. To the left is an image of a street in London with trees on the pavement, a last minute effort to cling on to nature in a built up environment.
Studies show that green-spaces are beneficial to mental health and have even been proven to increase life expectancy of those who have access to it on a daily basis; which is mostly due to it providing a much needed escape from stressful city life. You could say that an easy solution to this would be to just add green-spaces throughout all the cities however, that comes with its own issues.
Green gentrification is the act of exclusion and displacement of marginalised groups through the addition of green-spaces. An example of this can be seen through the construction of the Poble Nou Park in Barcelona, as seen in the image above, which is a prime example of green gentrification. Through the addition of this park, the surrounding house prices rose, leading to many existing residents having to move out; replaced by wealthier, more educated groups. Unfortunately, processes like this are very common and are on the rise. Peoples need for nature has been highlighted, yet is there a way of including nature within a city without it leading to the displacement of residents?
Organic architecture is a form of design which incorporates natural shapes and forms to create a sense of harmony within human centred design. An example of this can be seen in the image above of the Beeah Headquarters in Sharjah, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects. In designing this building, they took inspiration from the surrounding landscape of the sand dunes, allowing for a space to be created without taking away from the natural landscape.
It could be considered that due to the costs and the beauty of Beeah Headquarters in Sharjah, the addition of organic architecture may still lead to gentrification in the local area. However, SANAA a Japanese architectural firm, prove otherwise with their creation of a social housing complex in Paris.
Maréchal Fayolle Housing Complex incorporates natural shapes and offers a solution to the standard eyesore social housing blocks, with a creation that accommodates for 100 households without disrupting the surrounding landscape. With it being social housing also, it does not negatively impact lower income households and instead, provides and place which they can stay, appreciate and benefit from the natural forms of the building.
Looking at current studies which explore the potential benefits of regular interaction with organic shapes and many do agree that there is a correlation with it creating a positive impact on standard of living and an improvement in mental health. Due to this it can be considered that organic design could be a solution to the downfall in mental health, due to rapid urbanisation and poor building design.
In my next blog I will explore the potential negative impacts of Organic Architecture and how, if possible, they could be avoided...
About the Author
Hi my name is Sarah and I have recently been hired as a Curational Assistant at D31 Art Gallery. I have been in love with art of all forms throughout growing up and recently graduated from a degree in Interior Architecture and Venue Design. Currently studying a Masters in Sustainability and Adaptation I love the idea of making a positive impact on the world which is why I am also a Councillor in my local Parish Council. During lockdown I discovered my love for painting and ended up creating a collection of paintings called 'The Booty Series' which, inspired by art influencer Sophie Tea, explores the natural form and how every body can be beautiful and sexy! You can find me on instagram @brack.art.