“We make buildings like trees”

ORGA architect creates modern bio-based architecture. Wood is the material, healthy and green buildings are the goal. It therefore comes as no surprise that founder Daan Bruggink finds inspiration for his designs in nature. “As a child I wanted to be a biologist, but I didn’t know much about chemistry, so I became an architect,” he says. “I have always continued to study nature, and today I try to translate the way natural processes work into architecture.”

ORGA architect makes this translation in four ways: with organic forms, natural bio-based materials, techniques based on natural solutions, also known as biomimicry, and by applying biophilic principles that promote the connection between man and nature.

Buildings like trees

“A beautiful image that touches me time and time again is the image of the Angel Oak, an old tree in the United States with a beautiful composition, colors and powers. A tree’s natural system also inspires us in a very concrete way: Trees clean the air, they create biodiversity. In fact, we want to make buildings that function like trees.”

Ecological design

Daan Bruggink draws inspiration from the architecture itself from well-known organic architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright and Antoni Gaudí. “They made beautiful organic designs, but they’re also products of the period they were working in,” says Bruggink. “I have always been convinced that we should see this organic architecture much more loosely from the time frame and, above all, more grandiose. Just as nature is not defined by a specific time period such as modernism or postmodernism, it should not be defining for architecture either. Frank Lloyd Wright, for example, often worked with reinforced concrete in his buildings, as the material had just been invented at the time. Today he would probably build with wood. The great advantage of the times we live in is that today almost anything is possible, although in thirty years there will probably be other developments that we cannot yet imagine.”

Not known, but loved

We also asked Daan Bruggink about a beloved project of an architect colleague, which has not yet received the attention it deserves. He nominates an iconic building designed in the 1980s by his Dutch colleagues Alberts and Van Huut, namely the head office of the NMB bank in Amsterdam.

“Alberts and Van Huut have an anthroposophical organic bent. Nature is an important leading factor in this. This office building is an integrated design of architecture, urban planning, interior and landscape,” he says. “It consists of a dozen linked towers, organized in an S-shaped fashion, with two large gardens in between. Many natural principles have been used in the building. Elevators are unfavorable, so users go up the stairs more often, daylight falls from the towers to the ground floor, there is a fantastic view of greenery, and a great emphasis is placed on natural forms. There is even a water feature that runs through the building. It is not without reason that it has been chosen as the finest office building for many years, although it is currently being converted into a residential project. This building not only inspired me to look at nature in my architecture, but also showed me that a lot is possible if you really want it. In addition, you simply create beautiful architecture where people feel comfortable and happy. And that is ultimately the essence”, concludes Daan Bruggink.

Daan Bruggink is one of the six guest speakers-architects during the inspirational event Inspiration: Imagine Architecture which will take place on Tuesday 13 September 2022. The event will be broadcast live from the Elisabeth Center in Antwerp and you can join. Sign up for Inspirium: Imagine Architecture Livestream

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