DESIGN SYSTEMS IN NATURE 1

Ignoring what works-The Arch

The structure below was built to enable students to safely cross a set of two railroad tracks. Two flights of stairs on each side, two landings on each side. Many times I saw the fence cut on each side at ground level. Students walked directly across the tracks. Why? They apparently couldn’t stand the inefficiency of this crossover.

ARC 14

ARC 13

The next structure uses an arch.  The materials are humble, but people use it without question. The term, “beautiful solution” refers to solving a problem in an attractive way, but here attractive does not mean  pretty.   If this arch isn’t pleasing to you, think about which one you would choose to get to the other side, two or three times a day.

This is not to say a beautiful solution cannot be attractive. Indeed, in nature is almost always is, but designers would do well to take a lesson from nature every chance they get. Sullivan’s “Form follows function” has been lost on some designers.

There are a few basic categories in natural designs. The arch is one. You stand on them every day. The chart below shows the others. Circles/concentric, Arch, Geometric, Meander, Branching, Spiral, Radial and Spindles. The next post will be about another system.

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