Organic Architecture

FrankLloydWright describes the principles of OrganicArchitecture in "The Future Of Architecture", a collection of some of his lectures. The following is taken, without permission, from the last section of the book, "The Language Of An Organic Architecture". Slightly bowdlerized to save my tendons. -- PeterMerel


  1. NATURE means not just the "out-of-door" clouds, trees, storms, the terrain, and animal life, but refers to their nature as to the nature of materials or the "nature" of a plan, a sentiment, or a tool. A man or anything concerning him, from within. Interior nature with capital N. Inherent PRINCIPLE.

  2. ORGANIC denotes in architecture not merely what may hang in a butcher shop, get about on two feet, or be cultivated in a field. The word organic refers to "entity"; perhaps integral or intrinsic would therefore be a better word to use. As originally used in architecture, organic means PartToWholeAsWholeIsToPart. So "entity as integral" is what is really meant by the word organic. INTRINSIC.

  3. FORM FOLLOWS FUNCTION is a much abused slogan. Form is predicated by function but, so far as poetic imagination can go with it without destruction, transcends it. Only when we say or write FormAndFunctionAreOne is the slogan significant. It is otherwise the password for sterility.

  4. ROMANCE is the new reality that Creativity divines. No teamwork can conceive it. A committee can only receive it as a gift from the inspired individual. Poetry of form is as necessary to great architecture as foliage is to the tree, blossoms to the plant, or flesh to the body. Until the mechanization of building is in the service of creative architecture and not creative architecture in the service of mechanization we will have no great architecture.

  5. TRADITION is a generic term. Flocks of traditions may proceed to fly from generic tradition into unimaginable many. Imitations of imitation destroy an original tradition. [see SoftwareDevelopmentAsCraft] TRUTH is a divinity in architecture.

  6. ORNAMENT is to archtecture what efflorescence of a tree or plant is to its structure. OfTheThingAndNotOnIt. Ornament is the character of structure revealed and enhanced. If not well conceived, architecture is destroyed by ornament.

  7. SPIRIT is never something descending upon the thing from above as a kind of illumination but exists within the thing itself as its very life. In organic architecture, any term is used in reference to the inner and not the outer substance.

  8. THIRD DIMENSION is depth. In organic architecture, the sense of depth which issues as OfTheThingAndNotOnIt.

  9. SPACE: The continual becoming: invisible fountain from which all rhythms flow to which they must pass. The new reality which organic architecture serves to employ in building. The breath of a work of art. [Wright was heavily influenced in his larger philosophy by LaoTse]

It must have lost something in translation :-) Alexander's pattern books seemed to be getting at similar issues in a way which made more sense to me. -- DaveHarris

Wright has a habit of waffling at length ... I was happy to find any kind of summary, though I admit it would profit by applying itself to itself :-) -- PeterMerel

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