Interview with Arq. Michael Rice, by Diana Núñez, BA, NewEarth University Faculty, Learning & Education
We define Bioarchitecture as the Art and Science of designing and building structures and spaces which create, support and enhance Life and Living Systems. In effect, it is a design and construction method that is holistic in nature and comprehensive in terms of integration with biology.
Is it true that the earth is suffering with our buildings?
‘Suffering’ is a difficult word when used to describe the earth. The earth certainly feels the negative impact of what we create – as most of our building forms are designed without conscious understanding and awareness. We have forgotten how to build in harmony with the planet – and we generally end up creating stress on multiple levels. We feel and express this stress in many ways: ranging from physical illness to a more subtle but debilitating sense of disconnection with ourselves, each other and the land.
Some people call Bio Architecture the scientific Feng Shui. Can you explain that?
We must be careful of using the word ‘Science’ to explain or justify anything. Science is more than just a viewpoint or opinion; for something to be called ‘science’ it must be provable, with repeated and independent study, experimentation and peer analysis and agreement. There have however, been many studies that indicate and suggest that the shape, form, finish and orientation of a space has definite physiological and psychological effects on biology – These studies are collectively known as Neuro Aesthetics.
This information, coupled with extensive anecdotal evidence would suggest that there is indeed a science to this design philosophy – and if this points to it being described as the scientific Feng Shui then that would certainly be a good place to start.
Is it too expensive to build with this concept?
Not at all! In fact in our experience it is rarely more expensive.. and is quite often cheaper. This is because organic shapes are structurally stronger, use less materials and also involve building techniques that once mastered are quicker to utilise.
What is the difference between eco buildings and Bio Architectural buildings?
A bioarchitectural building is an eco building – but an eco building is not automatically a bioarchitectural building. Many eco buildings concentrate on reducing their carbon footprint and using recycled materials – but do not always see the benefit of harmonic proportions or applied beauty.
Is there any limitation for certain types of buildings? For example, can you build a 20 or more floors offices building?
The key to Bioarchitecture is to optimise the potential for living energy to manifest and circulate. Coherent fields of energy and information at one level can generate an overall positive atmosphere throughout a larger complex. In effect this means that even though a large high rise might seem like an unusual candidate for Bioarchitecture status, the accumulation of smaller zones of harmony can really add up to a healthy space in which to live and work.
Is it possible that with Bio Architecture we can arrange houses already built with traditional architecture?
Absolutely. Remember it is all about creating the opportunity for coherent human focus – on beauty and harmony at any and all levels. So within an existing building one can make minor adjustments which can dramatically upgrade the living energy of any space.
Follow your instincts. We are biologically programmed physically and psychologically to perceive, desire and create more beauty. We need to reactivate this innate skill consciously and allow our natural creativity to express.
What will be the more important benefits about living in a Bio Architectural space?
Health and happiness! And a life based on Beauty and Truth.
How did you find our Ecuadorian architecture and other architecture’s response to your concepts?
There is a rich bio architecture building tradition in Ecuador through the use of natural materials: bamboo, earth, plant fibres etc. in combination with beautiful shapes and forms. Unfortunately, many of these skills are dying and being replaced with poor construction techniques and very limited design sensibilities. But there is hope!.. A new wave of enthusiasm and excitement is emerging and this will open up the future of Ecuador’s built environment and enliven it’s people.
For more information and pictures: http://michaelricearchitect.com