Architecture According to the Landscape

 By: Francisco G. Zambrano

Fig.1: Personal quick sketch of the Moses Bridge.
     It's funny how things work out. Last week we talked about how architecture manipulates nature, and now this week we talk about how nature manipulates or rather influences architecture. The great part about this relationship is that the architecture is actually respectful of nature and tries to emphasize it. This is accomplished in many ways.

Fig.2: Beistegui Apartment view of Paris from rooftop.

Fig. 3: Hedge is down.
     We start with the Beistegui Apartments by Le Corbusier in Paris. In his task to try to hide some of the complications and impurities of the Parisian cityscape, he implements complicated machinery in order to filter and change the surrounding landscape. For example, on the roof garden, there are walls and hedges, which move electronically in order to hide or reveal parts of the surrounding cityscape (Fig.3). When one walks onto the roof top garden space, you are confused by the fact that there are furnishings that would normally be placed in a living room, yet are on the rooftop with a bright green grass floor. To top it off, you have the Triumphal Arch and the Eiffel Tower peaking up over the five foot white wall with the thin line of the surrounding mountain range along the top of the wall. The white wall manages to hide the complex cityscape yet keep in view the important monuments and the beautiful mountain range in sight. Then, when you are bored of the view or want to hide something, you simply move the architecture to do so.
Fig.4: The Moses Bridge in the Netherlands.
     It is interesting how one can emphasis nature. Le Corbusier did so by having architecture actually move in order to change the surrounding landscape. Now this is not always the case such as the Mosses Bridge in the Netherlands (Fig.4). This "bridge" literally hides itself in order to not interrupt the continuity of the moat or the simplicity of the site. When looking at the path from a certain distance, it literally is invisible, and as you approach it, the water and land slowly open up to reveal the a slit which is the bridge. What is amazing is that when seen from a distance, the bridge accomplishes to not interrupt the smooth current of the moat or the continuity of the land. This structure accomplishes to move you through a landscape that was only possible to do so in a story.
Fig.5: Blur as seen from afar.
     Another example of architecture, which tries to lessen the impact on its surroundings, is the Blur by the architects Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio on Lake Neuchatel in Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland. Well, it is not that it wants to lessen its impact rather than the structure tries to blend in the landscape by mimicking a cloud of fog on the lake (Fig.5). From afar, that is what the structure looks like, a cloud of fog which rises and lowers depending on the temperature and either expands onto the lake or stays together in a stout cloud. The only way you can tell that it is a structure is by seeing the two bridges on which people walk on in order to enter the cloud. This structure allows people to experience what it is like to be in a cloud in the sky. Like the Moses Bridge, in a way, it allows people to be inside nature in a way that was only possible in stories.
     As seen in these projects, architects do not always want to shove architecture down natures’ throat, but try to blend the two together. I believe that in order for architecture to be more than great, it must take more than just queues from nature. It must respect and react with the surroundings’ like the Beistegui Apartments, the Moses Bridge and the Blur. These projects have done so and have even gone beyond by trying to blend with their surrounding.  

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