Monday, December 12, 2022

Architecture by Artificial Intelligence. Too soon?


Are architects no longer needed to come up with ideas?

Can we get the new Artificial Intelligence engines to dream up ideas for our projects, and others to then draw them up to get consented, and built?

Just for fun, I had a look at the DALL-E engine, that spits out images created on the spot, however crazy your request. 

I tried a few phrases based on current projects.

These four below were generated by the search term 'Auckland apartments by Frank Lloyd Wright' ...

... Auckland apartments by John Lautner

... Auckland apartments by Louis Sullivan

... New Zealand apartments by Louis Sullivan

... Aotearoa apartments by Louis Sullivan

... Wellington apartments by Louis Sullivan

A Usonian house in Auckland

... Usonian house in Aotearoa

... Usonian House in New Zealand

... John Lautner house in New Zealand

John Lautner glamping cabins in New Zealand

... John Lautner glamping cabins in Aotearoa

... Frank Lloyd Wright glamping cabins in Aotearoa

... Frank Lloyd Wright glamping cabins in New Zealand

... Richard Neutra  glamping cabins in New Zealand

... Bruce Goff apartments in Aotearoa

... Bruce Goff apartments in New Zealand

... Bruce Goff apartments in Auckland
... Carlo Scarpa apartments in Auckland

... Pier Luigi Nervi apartments in New Zealand

... Pier Luigi Nervi apartments in Aotearoa

... Carlo Scarpa apartments in Aotearoa

... Carlo Scarpa dream home in Aotearoa

... Frank Lloyd Wright dream home in Aotearoa

... John Lautner dream home on Auckland beach

... Richard Neutra dream home in New Zealand

I'm not convinced the architects named would recognise the work as their own. 

But what say you: Are local architects redundant yet? Any of these buildings here that you'd like to order up?

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

"Beauty's higher prizes are not for the timid."


Retreat in Northern Hokkaido Mountains in Japan, by international architecture studio LEAD

    "Beauty's higher prizes are not for the timid." 
                    ~ Richard Neutra

[Hat tip Friends of Kebyar]


Monday, March 23, 2020

Architectural Mini-Tutorial: Tips for your home office

House in Mt Eden. Existing sunroom opened up to lounge, home office created
in new sunroom extension (at rear of picture). Pic by Organon Architecture. 

SO YOU'VE BEEN FORCED to work from home, and we're all pretty clear nothat it's likely to be for a very long time.

You can only work from the kitchen table for so long. And using a laptop on your lap for any length of time will quickly leave you with neck pain and feelings of frustration.

Having had my own office at home for many years now, I've learned a thing or two so that I can help you setting up your own.

We all know the usual tips for working from home: get dressed, have a regular routine, don't work in any kind of pants that have a drawstring....

But what about how to set up your home office, now that you know you may be using it for some time.

I don't know much about drawstring pants, but I do know a bit about spaces and how best to arrange them. So here are a few tips ...

Four major don'ts: 
  1. Don't work from your master bedroom. You need your regular bedroom for sleep, especially when (like everyone at the moment!) you really need that sleep to heal. There are ways to make it work architecturally (if no other option are available) but, in general, don't confuse your subconscious by mixing work and sleep -- especially if you're the sort of person whose desk isn't clear at the end of every day!
  2. Keep away from the fridge!  It's too easy to graze all day when you're at home, without realising the message your mirror is sending you. So try to keep to a regular schedule of breaks and meals instead of being ongoing. And if you do lack the won't-power, then set up a kettle in your workspace so you can avoid the temptation. (A good idea anyway of your house has too many other distractions.)
  3. Don't spend all day in your pyjamas. Yes, it is a cliche. That's because it is too easy: throw off the bed-clothes, stumble into the kitchen, rub sleep out of your eyes as you drink your first coffee at your kitchen-table desk ... and then realise several hours later that those online quizzes and twitter chats aren't going to get your work done, and you're already full of aches and pains from sitting badly for too many hours. So do make sure you have a place that tells your subconscious "I'm going here to work!" and then get dressed for it and ready for it as if it's a regular work day. Because it is. (And then make sure you separate yourself from your work once the work day ends too. I recommend a martini.)
  4. Don't stay inside! One of the great things about working from your neighbourhood is (hopefully) access to gardens, trees and open spaces. Use them! Get outside regularly. Take regular walks, have lunch in the open air, talk to other people (from a suitable distance!). In short, avoid cabin fever and keep yourself linked into the outside world. (Especially important is to spend at least thirty minutes, early in the day, out under the open sky. Sleep researchers tells us this is the single most important thing we can do to lock in the circadian rhythms that support healthy sleep.)
Another thing: with the possibility of schools and daycare closing soon, your children may be in the house with you. Which makes it even more important to carve out your own special space away from all the hubbub so you can focus. If your partner is home too, maybe you rotate shifts keeping an eye on anyone who needs it, but do make sure you can carve out three-hour blocks of time (minimum) to focus on your work. [I'll make a few comments in a few days about home-schooling, if anyone's interested.]

And you are going to need that quiet uninterrupted space too when you get into all those online work meetings. Who can forget this now-famous TV interview -- you (possibly) don't want this happening to you!

So, some Architectural Tips. This may be your workstation for some time. Do it properly. You may need to do some minor (or major!) renovation to your home; or you may be able to think laterally and only move around a bit of furniture -- it's amazing how a bit of lateral thinking can free up space! - but you have to make sure that its going to work so that you can enjoy working there. It has to be ergonomic, have decent shelving so your stuff is all to-hand, it is has to work efficiently and productively.

And it has to feel right, to support you psychologically. Especially now, when everyone's an emotional mess. It has to be a place of your own.

You don't necessarily need to use a whole room either. Try to get your spaces do double duty. Think about how much space you can make in a boat or a caravan -- often with things that easily hide away. That's the kind of thinking you might need to use.

Look for a spot you don't use -- an attic, behind a chimney space, part of a wide hallway or passage, large wardrobes ... there's more room available than you think, especially if you're thinking laterally.

You have to make the lighting work for you too.  No shadows across your work from lights or windows in the wrong place (so you'll have a totally different arrangement depending on whether you're right or left-handed). No high-reflective surfaces. Proper visual weight to the lighting arrangement. No looking directly into light fittings (see the effect of the light, not the light source). No glare on your screen from either lights or late-afternoon sun, enough light on your paperwork so you don't hurt your eyes.  In the right place so it supports your work rather than hinders it -- and makes you look good in online meetups too!

And remember: add delight. You are going to be here for many hours, possibly for many months. Make sure you have a view, or some art, or some plants -- or all three! Any place in which you spend this much time has to feed your soul just as much as you are busy feeding your out-box.

[Pic from Not So Big Remodelling: Tailoring Your Home For the Way You Really Live]
Some principles to think through:

Some people can work with things going on around them. Most can't. Especially in these difficult times, the space needs to feel like it's your own. Like a kind of private daily retreat that feels good to be in -- light filled and pleasant to be in so that you want to be there. Otherwise you won't be.
If you do want to keep yourself linked into family activities when you need to, then perhaps keep the space close to the main loop of family activity, but with doors you can close off for acoustic privacy when you need to.
Better to make a space that is totally separate and private, that doesn't become the family control centre. These are two different functions; don't confuse them!


Your new home office or "away room" can be anywhere and, like the fittings in a boat or caravan, can be tailored to adapt or change or fold away -- to be hidden when not in use. A "transformer space."

Or the space may be a lesser part of a multi-functioning space, one that won't create interruptions for you while working, of course. Perhaps there's a handy alcove that will accommodate a desk, into which you can add doors to close it away when you're not working.
Or you could convert a space you rarely use, like that garden shed, garage, or large formal dining space (which can do triple duty as your library!), or the media room (which you only use when you're not working, right?) into a home office cum social space. Or that extra-large wardrobe. (Just re-shelve some of those shoes!) Or the guest room which, unfortunately, you may not be using so much (and when you do, a foldaway bed can work).

If you're using a foldaway bed, try to keep at least 750mm between bed and computer when the bed is down. That may mean a moveable desk, perhaps on a cart.

Double-duty doesn't mean things should look temporary. Your workspace should feel as interesting and comfortable as the rest of your house, and have the same feeling of permanence.

Visual organisation is more than just organising your space so it works well. It's making sure the underlying visual order works to support the space -- this place in which you are going to spend many hours every day. So we need to bring visual order to the space to avoid the perception of chaos. So think through points of focus, pattern and geometry, alignments and the composition of the space, so that the space directs you to your work and reduces the apparent visual clutter around it.

** LEADS! 
Speaking of visual clutter! The bane of many a workspace is your leads to power all your 'puter stuff. Lots of leads under your feet makes you feel cluttered, so think through lead placement and the installation of enough plugs and plug boxes to make your space work. (If you're installing a lot of equipment, then maybe make a call to an electrician to set you up properly, or just to ensure your system can take all the new loads without blowing all your fuses!)

You don't really want to be adding new bathrooms. But especially with more hand-washing going on, you need to make sure your home office has easy access to bathrooms, without distractions en-route. Think that through.

Ergonomics is more than just the study of efficiency in working environments: it's about making sure the human body meshes organically and efficiently with your work tools for comfort, efficiency and to avoid long-term bodily injury. At a basic level, it's making sure seat, desk, keyboard and screen are set up perfectly for your body dimensions. At a deeper level, it's ensuring the whole space and its dimensions works the way you work: seating, shelving, screens, desks and reference table. Get your seat right (don't skimp on this one!) and get the work arrangement and all its associated dimensions right, and you will feel physically better working there, and your workspace will takes up only as much floor area (and no more) than it needs to.

Your new home office doesn't need to be accessible from inside the house, or even in the house at all. If you make it weather-tight , moisture-proof and insulated, and get reliable power there, then a garden shed, garage or basement can do the job.  Or a rent-a-cabin. A separate entrance may be best anyway to give you that feeling of mental separation from your work: strolling to the (former) sleepout in the morning could be just the thing you need to refresh yourself before work each day.
Or a combined entrance, sharing the same entrance hall, giving that little necessary feeling of extra separation.

Views out and/or long views within a space are important. When we grasp a thought, we often find ourselves staring into the middle distance. If that view is pleasant and plant-filled, or connects us to the wider world without distracting us, or throwing us into it, that's ideal.

Last but very far from least: feed your soul.
Be bold with colour: don't be scared to paint the space your favourite colour --  or maybe just a feature wall. (It's easy to change again if you get sick of it. Or just change it every season just for variety.
Have as many plants around you or in there with you as you can reasonably manage. Living things keep us connected and help clean the air in our workspace.
And have art in there! Do have all your friends' and family photos in there, but make sure to leave room for art: for colourful prints, small and engaging sculpture, even mementoes or things that remind us of important events, people or ideas in our lives.

Now, more than ever, we need to remember and connect with what's important.

Especially in that space in which, for months or even years, we are now going to have to spend many hours every day.

Hope this helps!

PS: I'm gearing up to consult on the installation of your new home office -- anything from a few hours conversation and advice, right through (if needed) to working drawings and tracking down a builder. If that interests you, drop me a line here at or to talk more.

Peter Cresswell
O R G A N O N.  A R C H I T E C T U R E

[Source: All pics from Not So Big House and Houzz, except where noted.]

Thursday, December 12, 2019

"The building as architecture is born out of the heart of man, permanent consort to the ground, comrade to the trees, true reflection of man in the realm of his own spirit." #QotD

Pic: Wright's home Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin,
from the Spring Green General Store site. 
"The building as architecture is born out of the heart of man, permanent consort to the ground, comrade to the trees, true reflection of man in the realm of his own spirit."
    ~ Frank Lloyd Wright, from The Essential Frank Lloyd Wright

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Q: What is organic architecture?

I named Organon Architecture after two of my heroes.

"Organon" itself comes from Aristotle's Organon -- his collection of books on logic and induction that, when rediscovered, led to the led to a rebirth of knowledge and science."Organon" being defined as a tool or instrument, in this case an instrument of knowledge ...

And "organon" also refers to the principles of Organic Architecture -- sometimes called The Other Modernism -- that I try to practice and that Frank Loyd Wright was the first (and the best) to espouse.

Over the decades, Wright and others gave many explanations of what this Organic Architecture consists:
  • architecture perfectly integrated with its site; a free architecture ... architecture that belongs where you see it standing, and is a grace to the landscape instead of a disgrace
  • recognising that nature and materials, machinery, and technologies are allies, not antagonists
  • understanding the higher truth that form should not simply follow function -- that outward appearances should reflect inner purposes -- but that form and function are one
  • an interpretation of nature’s principles manifested in buildings that are in harmony with the world around them
  • architecture used to make human life more natural, and nature more humane
  • an architecture from within outwards ... where the whole is to the part and the part is to the whole.
  • a building that functions like a cohesive organism, where each part of the design relates to the whole.
  • an architecture in which a building is allowed to develop in relation to the forces and context that generated it in a manner analogous to the way a tree (for example) develops according to its generating forces and site context -- a reinterpretation of nature's principles as they had been filtered through the intelligent minds of designers
  • an architecture recognising the human need for order, pattern, nature, prospect and refuge
  • an architecture in which space and time become place and occasion, and reason and self-esteem are embodied in the expression of motion and purpose
  • a building that complements its environment so as to create a single, unified space that appears to “grow naturally” out of the ground
  • choosing one dominant form for a building and integrating that form throughout (often in a fractal manner)
  • using natural colours: “Go into the woods and field for colour schemes”
  • don't simply imitate nature, but understand and emulate nature's abstractions of geometry, form, colour, pattern, texture, proportion, and rhythm
  • respect and reveal the nature of materials
  • open up spaces, using nested, overlapping and interlinked spaces
  • integrate natural foliage in the inner spaces and wider views of the outer spaces -- "capturing those views alive"
Integration is the key word: of site and landscape and colour and material with the life within.

Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer worked with Frank Lloyd Wright for many years. This conversation brings the ideas home ....

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Quote of the Day: "Architecture is a building conceived from an idea or vision of good living."

"So to a definition: ... [architecture] is a building based on a concept of good living conditions... building conceived from an idea or vision of good living...
   "This vision, then is translated into reality by qualities of surface, space, structure and psyche. I could be more fashionable and even more alliterative by calling the last item 'soul.' Perhaps it is best to average it out and settle on 'spirit'..."

       ~ Australian architect Robin Boyd, writing in his manifesto Living in Australia

[Pics of Robin Boyd House by Darren Bradley, from Robin Boyd Foundation and Australia Post Collectables]