Key Concepts

How does Biosculptural Architecture differ from other approaches?

Biosculptural Architecture considers “Architectural Form” to be the vessel or “container” of a soul-spiritual content. In other words, “Form” is more than just a symbol or geometric shape designed to perform a certain practical function. We all can read the “soul spiritual content” contained in someone’s body language. We are not so aware yet of the architectural equivalent of “body language”, but it never the less does exist.

Forms speak in their own language which goes beyond mere function or symbolism. Rudolf Steiner once said that “spirit cannot act in the world without form”.  It is therefore through the forms we create in our cultural and architectural environment that we create an environment which speaks directly, if unconsciously, to our soul and spirit. Some environments can lift us up, other environments pull us down. This is why Biosculptural Architecture elevates the requirement of “universal beauty”, as best as can be achieved in the circumstances, to be the number one priority after practical function.

Beauty, however, cannot claim to be universal if at the same time it isn’t inherently “true and good” as well. Wherever the “true, the good and the beautiful” are able to come together in the right way, the possibility of universal beauty arises. This begs of course the question as to what it is that makes a form “true, good and beautiful” and it is part of the biosculptural task and method to ask and grapple with this question.

Now whenever we are being touched by universal beauty we are at the same time touched and empowered on a deeper level. This is a place which is highly moral in nature and which resonates with that which is “true, good and beautiful” in us and which forms the core of our humanity. This is why universal beauty is able to lift us up in soul and spirit and become a force for moral transformation.

The unique and defining characteristic of biosculptural architecture is that is has made “moral transformation through universal beauty” to be its overriding aim and purpose.

This of course raises the question:

How is it possible for architectural form to impact us on a moral level?

To understand the effects of form we must first know what form is. We obviously think we know but on second thought, do we really?

Ultimately “Form”, like “Light” is not something we can see with physical eyes. Just like we can only see Light that is being reflected back from physical matter so we can only see the matter that fills the form but not the form itself. What we see with physical eyes is the material which is shaped in the particular form. Take away the material and the form is physically no longer visible. This does not mean the form disappears altogether because it remains visible as concept, picture or memory in our mind.  …….. We can comprehend and shape ‘Form’ with our inner light of thought and our imagination. It is here where the design ‘takes on form’. What essentially is an inner process, created out of inner Light and, it is to be hoped, inner Warmth as well, becomes an outer reality as a second step.  The matter and materials that make the outer forms physically visible represent an outward physical replica of the inner pictures and the inner processes on the part of those responsible for the design and construction. Sometimes the match between the inner picture and its outer manifestation is not perfect,  but without an inner picture or plan the outer manifestation could not have happened.

When we remind ourselves of the intimate link that exists between the inner pictures we create for ourselves (the “Forms”) and the outer, built up environment which  these pictures have given rise to, the outer environment becomes a window into the soul of a nation, region, culture, town or organization. The outer colors and forms of the man made, architectural environment are a reflection of the inner life, the likes, dislikes, priorities, choices and aspirations of the people living and working there. We can of course pretend that this is not so and rightfully point to the fact that the vast majority of people don’t design the houses and buildings they live and work in,  but collectively, as a society, our architectural environment is never the less an expression of our collective soul. When we walk through our suburbs and cityscapes, and allow ourselves for a moment to look at it as if we were looking at the mirror image of our collective soul, or the soul of our culture, does it make us feel proud or disappointed, nurtured or forgotten, inspired or depleted?

The responses to such a question will of course vary, but whatever they are, what is important is that we keep asking this question.

Form follows Function” and Function, once the Form has been created, keeps on following the Form. In other words, the forms we are creating mirror back to us all the intended and unintended functions and effects they give rise to. Ultimately in their totality they are a mirror image of our contemporary culture and society, of our priorities, preferences, likes dislikes, skills, artistry Etc. or the lack thereof.  It is of vital importance that we become aware of the intended or unintended “Functions” or qualities, and the social, cultural and moral consequences they give rise to, through the “Forms” we create.

In giving rise to both, physical and non physical functions, ‘Forms’ are the vessels through which our cultural soul and our spiritual identities and ideals become physically visible. It is therefore of crucial importance to become aware of how architectural “Warmth” or architectural “Light” or any of the other Elements and other Qualities and Archetypes are able to be incorporated into the forms by which we surround ourselves.

So once we appreciate how significant architectural “Form” is as the “mirror of our collective soul” we can come back to the original question and try to understand the mechanisms by which “Form” affects us on a moral level, which is the subject of the next section.

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How can “Form” affect us on a moral level?

Every form we see in the world meets us as both, form and substance. There is no physical substance without form and no physical form without substance. As mentioned in the previous section, without physical substance we would not be able to physically see a form at all. A wooden statue may have a distinct form which however is only visible on account of the carved substance of the wood. Without the wood we can still imagine the very same form but only in our mind. Physically it is no longer visible.  However, both the wood and the form contain certain qualities although very different in nature. The wood contains an amount of embedded thermal energy. What does the form contain? The form contains the intelligent function, thoughts and feelings of the artist or designer that created the form.  The intelligence or emotional quality that meets us in the physical object is primarily connected with the form (leaving aside color for the moment), not with the substance.  In other words, there is an embedded content in both, substance as well as form. The substance contains thermal energy which is not tied to any form. The form contains the intelligent thoughts and emotional energy of the designer and/or maker which are not tied to the substance. If I want to access the embedded thermal energy I have to burn the wooden stature and therefore destroy the form. If I want to access the thoughts and other meaningful content connected with the form of the statue I have to “think away” the substance in order to observe and experience the form. Analyzing the substance under the microscope gives me no clues whatsoever about the intelligent content embedded in the form.

Once we appreciate the very real non-physical content that lives in every intelligent form,  we can appreciate how this content is able to affect us on a non-physical level. The substance is what we touch and experience with our physical body, the form we experience in our soul. This is why form is able to affect us on a soul level in the first place, for good or bad. An environment filled with dysfunctional, ugly forms will leave us “demoralized” and depleted while an environment of inspiring and beautiful forms is able to lift us in body and soul.

The “soul content” embedded in the form can speak to us in at least four different ways. In other words, there are at least four different layers of influence through which Form is able to impact us on a non-physical soul or energy level. These four layers are connected with four different types of embedded soul content. The following analogies will help us appreciate the differences. To use a few colorful examples we could call them:

  • The “Hot Water Bottle” effect
  • The “Mirror” effect
  • The “ Tuning Fork” Effect
  • The “Record Player” effect

Notice how each of the above four implements relates in a qualitatively different way to the surrounding environment. The Hot Water Bottle radiates heat into the surrounding environment. The Mirror reflects its surroundings. The Tuning Fork vibrates in sympathy with a particular part, such as a particular musical note, sounding in the surrounding environment, the Record Player moves and keeps on spinning faithfully in the same grooves carved into the vinyl, pumping out the same message or sound into the environment until we stop or change the record.The first is a thermal process, the second is an optical or reflective process, the third is an acoustic and the fourth is a mechanical process.

The “Hot Water Bottle” effect

There is physical warmth and there is warmth of soul. Both are expansive and permeate or radiate out into the environment, both require sacrificial substance to feed the flames of the fire. The wood of the tree feeds the flames of physical fire, the extent to which I am prepared to pour my personal energy and creative substance into a project or a relationship this creates an atmosphere of non-physical warmth on a soul level. In other words, freely given personal substance, care, enthusiasm and good will creates a warm and supportive social environment, an environment “permeated “by Warmth of soul.

How does this non-physical warmth materialize architecturally?

It shows itself in better craftsmanship, care and attention given to every detail, clean and tidy spaces and generally in spaces that by their very look and feel are a testimony to the fact that they have been created and maintained with loving care and attention.

In other words, just like a physically hot object radiates warmth into the surrounding environment, so do spaces that have been created out of good will, care and creative enthusiasm radiate some of these qualities back into the environment. Ultimately this goes for everything that is carefully crafted by human hands. This is why we are prepared to pay many times as much for the hand woven carpet compared to the more perfectly woven machine made article. Machines cannot generate warmth of soul, only humans can. It is this warmth of soul that can only be created through human effort and good will that keeps radiating from an environment characterized by “Architectural Warmth”.

Conversely, environments that have been created not out of innocent enthusiasm and good will but out of purely commercial, utilitarian and profit driven motives generally lack an atmosphere of human warmth of soul. Combined with artificial and often prefabricated materials and construction methods that no longer allow for individual craftsmanship, such environments give rise to a general “architectural Coldness” which has nothing to do with physical  Coldness.

Summing up, the “hot water bottle effect”, refers to the amount of “Warmth of Soul” that is embedded in a building and which keeps socially “warming” the environment for as long as the spaces are being maintained with loving care and attention.

It is easy to see that  living in an environment of architectural Warmth or Coldness  affects us on a soul or moral level, regardless of whether we experience this consciously or unconsciously as feeling of  comfort and being recognized in our humanity or as an experience of discomfort alienation from our humanity.

The “Mirror” effect

There is outer, physical Light and there is inner “Soul Light”.  Outer Light allows us to experience outer space, our inner light “lights up” our inner space, which is the space of our consciousness. The inherent wisdom of most languages gives expression to the connection and similarities that exist between physical Light and the Light of Thought or Consciousness. We speak of an “enlightened” consciousness, we recognize the “light” of recognition in another person’s face, everyone sometimes has a “bright” idea and if we are open minded enough we can see things in a “new Light”.

What is the reason for this surprising synonymy?

The synonymy between outer physical Light and inner Light of Thought exists because they both share the same archetypal nature, which expresses itself through the activity and phenomenon of “reflection”.

We cannot see Light itself, we can only see Light when it is being reflected from physical objects in space. We can shine a torch light on an object but the beam of light itself would remain invisible if it wasn’t for the dust particles or mist in the air. The universe is filled with Light but we cannot see the Light that floods the spaces between planets and galaxies, we can only see the physical objects or stars that reflect the light.

It is the same with our inner “light of consciousness”. We only “see” or become aware of those thoughts or ideas which are being reflected back to us in our consciousness. Our physical brain is like a complicated mirror that reflects sense impressions and thoughts into our consciousness. Again the wisdom inherent in language picks up this correspondence whenever we “reflect” on a problem, or speak of “self-reflection”.

Now the extraordinary thing, so obvious and yet so often forgotten, is that in every architectural design we have reflected back to us the sum total of the Architect’s thoughts that created the design and form. On a larger scale, in every street and townscape we have reflected back to us the thoughts, choices, priorities, generosity, stinginess, artistry, utilitarianism, sense of order, openness, etc. of the people responsible for those choices and of the general cultural atmosphere and collective “group think” that supported those choices.

Obviously the quality of thought that goes into a design affects us greatly. We admire and love good design and we get annoyed and irritated, even angry when we discover design flaws.

What has to be remembered is that, just like the “hot water bottle effect”, the “mirror effect” of architecture is value neutral. The process of reflection works the same way regardless of what is being reflected. If creative, inspiring and uplifting thoughts are able to create an environment filled with interest, variety and genuine beauty, our responses, conscious or unconscious, are naturally different to those triggered by an environment of make belief artificialness or commercial monotony. In the one instance the environment becomes stimulating, inspiring and, ultimately, reflecting back to us the higher aspects of our nature, while in the absence of the light of inspiration we are being reduced to unconscious consumerism in a physical environment of either glitzy advertising and corporate glass and marble towers, or we are being squeezed into the grey utilitarianism of industrial concrete and steel. Either way our humanity is being denied.

Again, it is easy to see how the architectural physical environment is able to impact us very deeply, for good or bad, on a moral level. The key question is very simple: Apart from everything else, does the architectural environment reflect back to us the qualities associated with our higher nature, or does it reinforce our lower, selfish, greedy and fearful nature?  On this level the totality of every design implies a moral choice whether to support or retard the humanity within us. Although the architect is able to substantially influence this choice and its manifestation, ultimately the decision on which way to go rests not with the architect but with the client or organization responsible for commissioning and resourcing the project.

The “Tuning Fork” Effect

Heat radiates and permeates, Light shines and is reflected, Sound vibrates and causes surrounding objects to vibrate in sympathy.  Every object has its own frequency at which it will begin to vibrate.  A tuning fork tuned to the “C” note will automatically begin to vibrate whenever the “C” note is being played in the surrounding environment.  There is the well known experiment of the wine glass being shattered when its particular frequency is being sounded with sufficient strength.

What is the soul-spiritual equivalent of physical vibration?

We have all experienced that we get on best with people who are “on the same wave length”. What does this mean? It means that we share common qualities of soul such as common interests, characteristics, or personalities etc. which are able to “vibrate together” in unison.  We pick up good or bad “vibes” pending on whether we vibrate in sympathy or antipathy with a given person or situation. There is a whole library of “new age books” and films, such as “The Secret”, out there that remind us that we attract that into our lives what we vibrate in sympathy with, more often unconsciously than consciously.

However, it is not enough to just think something. Thinking alone does not tend to produce much of a vibrational response. The key element that lends power to any vibration is how much of ourselves we put into a thought, how strongly we amplify a thought with our emotional energy, with our will and the power of our imagination.

In other words, while thinking and consciousness are connected with Light, our feelings are connected with the colors and tones vibrating in our soul.  Whenever we experience something in the environment that triggers a positive or negative emotional response the underlying mechanism of this response is the sympathetic or antipathetic vibration it triggers in our soul.  Again this mechanism is value neutral.  We sympathize with what we are in harmony with and we more often than not criticize and judge, at least initially, that which we don’t understand and are therefore in disharmony with. While such responses are by definition subjective, we can turn them into objective organs of perception by the degree we are able to separate the experience of sympathy or antipathy itself from the conscious observation of it.

The same principle applies to the architectural choices that are being made in the design of a building. If those choices spring from a sense of aesthetic responsibility, if there is vitality and personal engagement in the design process, if the multitude of chosen forms are the outcomes of artistically balanced choices rather than standard off the shelf solutions, then these become the very qualities we are able to “vibrate in sympathy with” as we live and work in such a building. In the reverse situation,  if little in the way of  moral substance is able to flow into a design process and building, if creativity is replaced with pragmatism, if the sense for timeless beauty makes way to meaningless and short-lived fashion statements,  if the excitement of breaking new ground gets squashed  through commercial or regulatory constraints, then the outcome is compromised accordingly  and deep within us what vibrates unconsciously is a feeling of lifeless monotony and depression.

Architectural Form therefore can support or deny our higher nature, which yearns for beauty and the moral substance that comes with selfless gifts of art.

Again the connection between architectural form and the moral dimension is a palpable one, in this case speaking not through our thinking but vibrating in sympathy with our feeling soul.

The “Record Player” effect

This is the physical level commonly associated with design, where physical functions have to be accommodated in the various forms of a building. The connection with the non-physical, moral level comes when we become aware of the fact that forms not only follow function but in themselves also give rise to new consequences not foreseen.

First the music is carved into the grooves of the vinyl through a series of typical forms which are the formative imprints of the music. Then, whenever the record moves, the needle that runs inside the groove has no choice but to follow the form exactly, thus reproducing the music. The record player therefore is a prime example of “Form following Function and Function following Form”.  In other words, the chosen form literally determines what the possibilities are for physical movement. The movement follows the form quite mechanically.

On a mechanical level, a particular ‘Form’ defines the space or carves out the groove which then gives rise to the possibility of a particular action or movement. Like the grooves on a record, once the form has been carved it will always play the same music. ‘Form’ in this sense is like a vessel which is made to permanently hold a particular content. Once the form is there, the content is able to keep moving and expressing itself through the form. The form itself may not even be visible as in the case of social forms, or at any rate it recedes into the background to make way for the content, which grabs our attention. Like the design of a loudspeaker which enables sound projection, what grabs peoples’ attention is the announcement or the song rather than the form of the speaker itself. And yet, the form or design of the speaker will have a major influence on the projection and quality of the sound. It is no different with architectural forms. The forms themselves may go unnoticed yet the functions and qualities they give rise to are there regardless as a constant influence and facilitator of particular functions.

In other words, whilst it is good and proper practice to allow the intended function to shape the form and design, what we must remember is that once the form has been created it will forever continue to play the same music. Moreover, if we are not careful the music may have disturbing overtones or it may be the intended melody but in the wrong mood or key. The point we are making is that ‘Form’ is the limiting or empowering factor that determines which and how ‘Content’ comes to physical expression. ‘Form’ therefore should never be arbitrary and is of extraordinary importance. This also places an extraordinary responsibility on the ‘form giver’ or Architect, who must be careful and conscious as well as practical and creative about what qualities and possible functions are made possible  and being placed into the world through what forms.

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In a nutshell so far

“Most architecture, in as much as it is intended to be the backdrop for our work and recreation, tries not to be intrusive but subtle. The influence of architecture takes place on a subtle level but it is the more powerful for the fact that it is a constant influence. Obviously we cannot expect a criminal walking in the front door and leaving as a saint through the back door. However, if children for example are able to grow up in an architectural environment that is warm, creative and conceived out of the full spectrum of the criteria of Warmth and Light, Vitality and Meaning, ….  they will quite naturally and unconsciously become more sensitive to colour, form and balance. Being surrounded by beauty and care invested in the environment, they naturally and quite unconsciously come to absorb it as the norm and standard. This means they themselves will quite naturally take better care with their physical surroundings and the care and respect given to physical surroundings will on some level translate into taking better care with school work, without a word ever having been spoken.  It happens unconsciously.

The ‘right’ physical environment emanates an atmosphere of care and craftsmanship, artistic balance, vitality and meaning and thereby becomes an unconscious moral influence towards good will, alert interest, open-mindedness and respect. It inspires  conscientiousness in one’s work and builds an appreciation for beauty, without so much as a word ever being spoken. The moral dimension that is being introduced by such an environment, whether for  adults or children,  has nothing to do with moralistic demands or religious dogma and appeals on a universal human level, in the same way as the qualities of the 4 Elements are universal and not biased in any moralistic, philosophical or religious direction.

We cannot expect positive architectural influence to be dramatic, but if it is consistent, and because it is constant, it represents a powerful positive anchor and morally transformative influence over time.”

Why ‘Universal Beauty’ – Why ‘Moral Transformation’?

One of the unique characteristics of the biosculptural perspective is its singular focus and stand for the creation of “universal beauty”; not energy-efficiency, not sustainability, not health and ecology, etc. , —- not because such considerations are not important but because there are already numerous proponents and experts who drive “green” principles, often at the expense of  beauty pure and simple in its own right. By the time all functional, commercial, utilitarian and green factors have been considered, beauty as such is often the poor orphan that misses out in the end. Yet only that which is truly beautiful can be expected to have a morally strengthening and uplifting effect on our soul.

As already indicated further above, the problem we are facing is that true beauty can only ever arise out of selfless motives and is usually the outcome of an inspiration and freely given, creative substance. That is why it is so rarely found.

Again, this makes it very difficult to create anything truly beautiful and of moral value in an environment that is routinely driven and defined by utilitarian, commercial and regulatory motives and restrictions.

However, having a clearly defined approach to the creation of morally transformative architecture, an approach that acknowledges and addresses this difficulty and introduces processes to address them (see consulting page), is of great help and often introduces a new freedom and fluidity to the overall vision and design process, which has a substantial and positive impact on the final outcome.

Moral is not the same as moralistic
Moral Transformation has nothing to do with being “moralistic” or subscribing to any moralistic set of rules, demands or philosophy. To understand what moral transformation means implies that we must know what is the desired outcome of transformation and who is the agent of transformation.
The agent of transformation is that part within us which is challenged to choose between doing what’s easy or doing what’s right, between seeking advantage, gratification and control or following one’s conscience. The reason human beings have moral responsibility is on account of their indwelling spirit, higher self or higher ego. It is easy to distinguish between our higher and our lower parts of being. Everything that is selfish within us, which includes not only our wants and dislikes but also our fears and inadequacies, belongs to our lower and undeveloped nature. Everything which is truly selfless within us is the beginning of our awakening higher nature. The point of consciousness that separates the two is our inner agent of transformation, the part that bears moral responsibility for our actions. This is the part within us that needs strengthening and awakening. This is also the part within us which must establish and maintain our inner sphere of balance in the face of the difficulties and challenges life throws in our way. The stronger we become in creating our inner sphere of balance, the greater is our capacity for freedom. Loss of balance equates to a loss of freedom and we fall over quite literally. This point of consciousness,  which we all have access to if we choose to look for it,  is our higher Self or selfless Ego.

Every time we stand in the presence of something that is truly beautiful, something that has been created out of an attitude of good will , inspiration and freely given creative substance, our higher nature within us stands in wonder and appreciation and is inwardly moved and strengthened through such an experience. This is the secret and basis upon which moral transformation through architecture becomes a possibility in the first place.

We live in a time and in a world where we are being bombarded from all sides with technological wonders and contraptions which may in the short term make our lives easier, but which more often than not seem to weaken our health as well as the health of the Earth. We live in an environment where the motives behind just about everything that surrounds us in the way of industry, science and culture are of a commercial and purely utilitarian nature, where the global problems of war, hunger, overpopulation, ignorance, fundamentalism, polarization and intolerance have become part of the political air we breathe on a daily basis every time we read a newspaper or turn on the TV.

To consciously strive to place islands of true and freely given beauty into this world is like creating safety rafts to rest on within the ugly current. We desperately need more  places of beauty that speak to our soul and higher nature, environments without embedded commercial message or political intent except for the message of true beauty, good will and the promise of a higher freedom that arises to the same extent to which we awaken the higher nature of our inner being.

There are many practical, religious and artistic movements today who strive in these directions in one form or another. Many of them are altruistic and perform important functions in the world, but virtually all of them, when it comes down to it, have an over-riding utilitarian, if charitable function. There doesn’t appear to be in this day and age an advocate for universal beauty in its own right, full stop. Many would have us believe that universal beauty doesn’t even exist and is but in the eye of the beholder.

This is why there is power in having an architectural approach dedicated to a singular aim and purpose pure and simple: “Moral Transformation through Universal Beauty”, ——– particularly in this day and age.

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Why look at the forms of nature?

When we take a closer look at the forms of nature, whether we look at the structure of a bone, the wings of a butterfly, the shape of a bird, a lion, a tree, the bud of a flower  or the shape of the human form etc., the amazing quality that all forms of nature seem to have in common is that on the whole they all are “BEAUTIFUL, FUNCTIONAL AND  MEANINGFUL”. In other words, they embody the very ideals of form that we aspire to in our architectural forms.

However, the solution does not lie in copying nature’s forms, which would be uninspired as well as uninteresting and inartistic, quite apart from the fact that our architectural forms are born out of different functional needs and necessities compared to the forms of nature.

Rather than copying nature’s forms, Biosculptural Architecture seeks to understand the principles, forces and qualities that stand behind nature and which appear to have given rise to the infinite variety of natural forms in the first place. In other words, instead of copying the forms of nature the aim is to understand the formative principles that have shaped them and on the basis of that understanding develop the skill to create new architectural forms that are in harmony with nature’s formative forces and principles. It should be noted that this is an important difference to the approach of many other organic architects who  use organic forms as sources of inspiration. The biosculptural method uses the forms of nature not necessarily as sources of inspiration but as examples of underlying formative principles. These principals are universal in the same way as the forces of life are universal and universally present in all living organisms. It is on the basis of the universality of nature’s formative forces that an emerging Language of Architectural Form, which bases itself on these forces, stakes its claim of universality.

The aim of Biosculptural Architecture therefore is to learn to understand the “UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE OF FORM” spoken by the natural world and to use this language in creating the appropriate architectural forms that meet the desired purpose, function and cultural needs of our times.

We are under no illusion that learning to understand and speak the “LANGUAGE OF FORM spoken by the natural world” is an ongoing process fit to occupy generations of interested students, with no end point in sight.

However, much can be gained from simple beginnings. The beginning step has been to view the phenomena of nature through the perspective of the 4 ELEMENTS, as explained in the next section.

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Why look at the 4 ELEMENTS ?

Both in the eastern and western traditions the idea of the 4 Elements has been used as a way to make sense of the bewildering variety of phenomena of the world. These traditions go back uninterrupted for millennia and are to be found in many different cultures.

Why has this concept been so wide spread and enduring? What is the reality behind it?

In the literal sense the 4 Elements describe the condition of matter from the fiery to the watery, gaseous and solid state. Everything in material existence is subject to these states.
However, when looking at the characteristics associated with the 4 states, the Elements point to equivalent non-material qualities which are equally universal. They are:

FIRE warm Spirit, Will, Motivation
AIR gaseous Light, Expansion, Thought
WATER fluid Life, Motion, Emotion
EARTH solid Three dimensional Form, Resistance,
purposeful Whole

The 4 Elements and their associated qualities form the very fabric of the world as we know it. They are the essential ingredients to every creative process and they are connected with the prototype of every living creature. As such they can become a useful window through which we can begin to discover meaning and wisdom behind the phenomena of the world.

The following table serves to demonstrate the qualities and perspective offered by the 4 Elements in as widely different fields as “Music, Speech and Architecture. “

ELEMENT Archetypal
FIRE WARMTH penetrates Pulse and Heartbeat Impulse to speak
Human Interface
(Motivation, Energy)
AIR LIGHT reflects Timbre and Mood Consonants
Geometry of Light
(Consciousness, Interest)
WATER MOVEMENT flows Melody and Harmony Vowels
Geometry of Movement
(Vitality, Rhythm & Order)
EARTH FORM individualizes Theme and Structure Word structure
Structural Geometry (Purpose and Meaning)

The above table also highlights the gap between the 4 Elements and a future “Language of form”. Just like consonants, vowels and words are the basis of speech but in themselves are not enough to create a Shakespeare play, so are the 4 Elements in Architecture a useful first beginning but at the same time are a long way from constituting a “Language of Form”.

Curiously enough the 4 Elements are also connected with the 4 step process that characterizes any truly creative process.

Much more could be said about the 4 Elements, how they relate to the 4 Ethers or Life Forces which Steiner spoke about, how they constitute the middle realm between the polarity of physical and etheric forces and how the forms of nature arise out of this very polarity and tension that exists between opposite forces.

A much more detailed discussion of these topics will be given in the two book projects currently under preparation and expected to be published in the near future.

For an example in working architecturally with the qualities of the 4 Elements go to our Entry to the Ideas Competition for an Australian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale.

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