Rudolf Steiner – Towards an organic architecture

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The field of organic architecture is broad, with diverse interpretations of place making and man made space production based on principles, forms, materials and functions closely derived from nature.

At the turn of the 20th century, a time of unprecedented isms, organic architecture was a much-discussed topic in many stylistic streams, similar to the ecology and sustainability debate at the beginning of the 21st century.

One philosopher of the time, Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), continues to find interest amongst people concerned with wholeness and an organic approach to design and life in general. His teachings touch an almost all areas of life and have found widespread application in biodynamic agriculture, homeopathic medicine, Steiner Waldorf Schools and innumerable anthroposophic organisations.

Not so well known are his thoughts on the arts and architecture. Due to the creative nature of the subject, little scientific research has been undertaken to explore his indications. A German publication by Espen Tharaldsen “ die verwandlung des alltags” (Verlag Freies Geistesleben, 2012) gives a very good synopsis of Steiner’s architectural impulse and its interpretation to date by its many followers. It contextualises the way we read and interpret his thoughts on art and architecture within his philosophy and over time and illustrates in a simple parable the possibilities and limitations of his indications.

What one comes away with is: there is no such thing as anthroposophic architecture, there is only architecture that is created by people who understand the world as oneness of physical and metaphysical forces and subsequently design buildings that reflect in their design, function and conception wholeness, perceived from the vantage point of the time. In that search for total connectedness to the visible and invisible forces in us and the world, Steiner’s ideas lead to a fundamentally organic architecture, however more in its conception than in its formal expression.

Anyone interested in the subject might find the international summer conference at Emerson College on Wholeness Through Architecture and the Arts informative and inspiring, where Espen Tharaldsen will be giving a lecture and workshops amongst others leading experts in the field of Steiner inspired building approaches.

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