Master Builder's Quiz: Organic Architecture

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Let's start with the basics: What is organic architecture?

Derived from architect Louis Sullivan's belief that form follows function, organic architecture extended that principle to the idea that form and function should be united in design.

What is one defining characteristic of organic architecture?

Part of the doctrine that form and function should be united involves careful consideration of materials when creating a design. For instance, an architect adhering to organic principles wouldn't design a lacy pattern on a staircase but cast it out of iron, and wouldn't attempt to mold soft cotton into sharp geometric shapes.

Who coined the term "organic architecture?"

Frank Lloyd Wright was a disciple of Louis Sullivan, who developed the seed of the idea for organic architecture. Wright was an innovator in urban planning and is remembered as one of the greatest architects in recent history.

What is the difference between green architecture and organic architecture?

Green architecture, also known as sustainable architecture, emphasizes the use of sustainable, renewable resources. Organic architecture is primarliy an aesthetic and design-centric principle, while green architecture has more of a social and practical focus.

What is the Gaia charter?

Established in connection with the Gaia movement, a network of groups dedicated to sustainable living, the Gaia charter established a set of rules for organic architecture. Among them were requirements that organic architecture must satisfy social, physical and spiritual needs, and that it be inspired by nature.

Who devised the Gaia charter?

David Pearson proposed the original Gaia charter. Eric Corey Freed later summarized it more simply by stating that buildings should (figuratively) grow from seeds to join their surroundings as plants do in nature.

Claude Bragdon was a major figure in organic architecture. What was one unlikely hallmark of his style?

It might seem odd for an organic architect, but Bragdon favored geometric shapes in his design. He believed that true unity could only be achieved in the absence of individualism, which influenced his heavy use of regualr shapes and symmetry.

Hugo Häring, another key player in the world of organic architecture, took an approach that was quite different than Bragdon's. How so?

Häring believed that organic architecture must be unique. Where Bragdon favored repetition and unity, Häring developed his projects almost exclusively based on the unique requirements of the site and his clients' wishes.

Fallingwater, a privately commissioned home, is one of Frank Lloyd Wright's most famous works of organic architecture. In what distinctively organic location was Fallingwater constructed?

Appropriately, Fallingwater was built over a waterfall, its concrete and glass design echoing the majesty and drama of the waterfall below. Wright's somewhat infamous temper and stubbornness came out during the project when the client brought in an engineer from a non-organic discipline; Wright threatened to take his plans and desert the project.

Fallingwater wasn't the only Frank Lloyd Wright building with a history. What dramatic events did Wright's residence, Taliesin, undergo?

In the early 1900s, while Wright was away on a job, one of his servants set fire to Taliesin and murdered no fewer than seven people. Wright's studio survived, but he lost family, staff, and most of his residence in the tragedy.

Organic architecture isn't all about the architect's view of nature; it also gives consideration to the needs of the client. What might these needs entail?

As occupants of a building, the needs of the client were regarded as an important part of a structure's functionality and design. Each architect defined the concept with his or her own nuances, but factors like a family's hobbies (Do they like to cook? Play piano in the den?) were often considered strongly. Frank Lloyd Wright was of the opinion that through this consideration, a family's daily life could be elevated to a higher plane and the structure would fully serve its purpose.

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About This Quiz

We've all seen the aisles of organic produce that have begun popping up in grocery stores. But how much do you know about organic architecture? Take our quiz to test your knowledge!

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