Eleven architectural masterpieces surrounded by greenery

Among woods, hills and waterfalls, but also in the city, Nature is a design element that insinuates itself powerfully into the built work, becoming an integral part and an inspiring principle.

After deciding to climb a tree in his garden and declaring that he never wanted to come down again, the protagonist of Italo Calvino’s “Barone Rampante” ends up deliberately moving only through woods and forests and building his own existential dimension in the trees.

Without obviously going as far as a paroxysmal idea of escape and denial of real life, this relationship with Nature, which is not only ecstatic-contemplative in a romantic sense but also profoundly functional and prosaic, is a leitmotif that guides, in recent history, the work of many famous architects who have conceived the landscape not as a simple “backdrop” but as a structuring and founding part of the design and way of living and dwelling.

Houses among the trees literally “on tiptoe” to reduce the built footprint (Mendes da Rocha, Butantã House; Perugini, Perugini, De Plaisant, Experimental House; Lacaton & Vassal, House at Cap Ferret; Go Hasegawa & Associates, Pilotis in a Forest House); houses that are a “medium” to travel and experience nature (Glenn Murcutt, Simpson-Lee House; SANAA, Grace Farms River Building) and that are concretely integrated in it (Frank Lloyd Wright, Fallingwater; Aires Mateus, House in Monsaraz); works in which the context gives off a vaguely “animist” aura (Asplund and Lewerentz, Cemetery in the Stockholm Woods) and in which the building draws new lifeblood from the forms and energy of Nature (Ricardo Bofill, Fàbrica) and tools for sustainability (Renzo Piano Building Workshop, California Academy of Science). To demonstrate perhaps, with the “Barone Rampante”, that between the chirping of birds and the squeaking of squirrels among the leaves, the idea of a “nest” in which to really find peace and refuge – and perhaps oneself – is not so crazy.

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