Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Harmonizing Architecture and Nature: The Art of Feng Shui

written by | Kyle Peppard

In the camping experience it is not only important that people are comfortable in the cabin where they sleep, but also that the cabin is comfortable on the site in which it rests.

Camping has always been about social interactions, and creating lasting memories, but it is also an opportunity to be surrounded by nature at its purest and most undisturbed. Though the addition of architecture to a natural environment can sometimes taint it, a respectful and appropriate integration of the two can actually enhance experiences by creating harmony between the built environment and its natural surroundings. One philosophy for creating this synergy is Feng Shui, an idea thousands of years old.

Feng Shui involves creating a natural energy through clever building practices that range from manipulation of building and site geometry to a very specific placement of interior furnishings, but is primarily built upon the belief that all of natural existence falls into one of the five elements: Water, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Wood. In nature each of these elements serves their own purpose and has a direct effect in some way on each of the others, and the natural energy created by these interactions is known as Chi. Feng Shui takes these relationships and arranges the placement of the elements into a perfectly balanced cycle that will allow for the maximum flow of Chi. This cycle is formed by placing these elements along a path around the building. Each material is to be placed in between one other material that would strengthen it, as well as one that would weaken it theoretically keeping the materials following a natural order, such as fire being fed by wood but tamed by sand. However, it is also very important within this arrangement that if the interaction between elements is of a purely destructive nature they be placed opposite one another, such as the way water will douse a flame with no benefit to itself or metal will slice through wood without gain.  When a building supports this cycle, then the building itself can be harmonious with nature.

So what could all of this possibly mean for camping? It means that the feeling of true connection between people and nature doesn’t have to stop when going inside. When Feng Shui is properly applied, shelter is no longer separate from the five elements. In the design of cabins, dining halls or any other camp building the elements can be incorporated so that the architecture is a continuation of its site, and a natural environment is formed within the building heightening the essence of the camping experience. When attempting to set up a camp building following principles of Feng Shui it is best to start with site geometry. Feng Shui believes that certain things help carry existing Chi into a building, such as a road that passes by or goes directly towards the entry, or a body of water that lies in front of the entry. The next step would be to attract that energy into the building by avoiding jagged or complex geometry and providing a large and inviting entry wall. Lastly the Chi needs to be properly hosted within the building which is where the very specific use of material is to be incorporated. The first application can be through building materials and layout by making decisions such as placing a wooden entry porch waterfront with the building’s back wall being stone. The process could then be taken further by using wood planks on the interior entry wall, and oppose it with a fireplace and metal screen. As various furnishings are placed in the interior according to the rules of Feng Shui the cycle becomes stronger and creates a new home for positive Chi energy.

Feng Shui is nothing new to camping, and some Chi savvy campers always make sure to arrange their tent site according to its rules. Some of those same campers are gravitating towards BubbleTree tents by French designer Pierre Stephane Dumas. These tents were designed with Feng Shui in mind adopting soft rounded geometry with a large and open transparent entry bubble in order to strategically attract Chi. However, due to the limitations of the temporary shelter and a lack of materiality it is still up to the camper to place the tent and their personal belongings according to the principles of Feng Shui. Unlike these tents, camp design is not bound to these limitations and provides a unique opportunity to plan out and build in Feng Shui providing the experience to all campers, and creating a structure that is meant as an addition to the natural environment.

While it may be true that there is no substitute for the great outdoors, by applying the principles of Feng Shui we can create a positive relationship between the elements that exist and the elements we design.


Photo Credits (From Top)

1 comment:

  1. Your blog explaining all the main points very awesomely. Thanks for share this information with us.
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