Constructing Nature: An insight into our “New Environment”

From Sheltering to Dwelling: A Transition

Image Courtesy: Manisha Nimesh

The dwellings that we live in came into being with very humble origins. Primary need of the dwelling was to provide shelter from the natural elements, as well as comfort through enclosed spaces.

However,as our societies evolved, the nature and characteristics of these enclosed spaces transformed and they became more profound and multi-faceted. As our built environment is getting larger and denser, supported by constant advancement of technology; we are now spending great amounts of time in our private enclosed spaces. We do not merely occupy our houses for shelter anymore; but are living, working and innovating in it.

We are now DWELLING in it!

Environment: Interpretation and Translation

The natural environment is rich and diverse, and offers a vast ocean of knowledge. From time immemorial, we have always looked upon our natural environment for inspiration. Major innovations and advancements took place through close observation of the surroundings. Many great musicians, painters, innovators have taken inspiration from nature to various depths.

For a long time, we have used our natural environment to INNOVATE and CREATE !

Locomotion and Transportation: Most of the important modes of transport have emerged after close observation of our environment. The fundamental framework of the locomotives used now resembles and carry the same characteristics that are found within our natural environment.

Materials and Construction: Some important construction techniques, frameworks and materials have again emerged as an outcome of studying and mimicking nature’s master builders. To this date, we are unable to build skyscrapers as high as the termites have been doing for thousands of years.


Urbanization: A New Environment

In the recent times, we have seen a major shift in our immediate surroundings. We are now living in a completely different environment, an URBAN environment. More than half of the human population is now living in cities and towns, and is urbanized. But it is important to realize that as our natural environment impacted us and our lives; the way we think, and the way we EVOLVE; this urbanized environment also does.

Yet we do not understand this urbanized environment, this “NEW ENVIRONMENT”

It is illogical to specify a direct impact of such a large scale phenomenon but we can surely figure out large scale changes that have occurred in our societies. We are now devoid of the very surrounding that was innate to our being. We are no longer accessing the same information that we have been genetically programmed to. This causes anxiety and in some cases hopelessness.

It becomes critical that we either train our minds to change its perception towards the very environment, to change the way we interact with our surroundings! 

Or, we can choose to modify our “new environment” to suit our innate characteristics and design it in a manner that fulfills our psychological and physiological needs!

It is easier to objectify and fulfill the physiological needs of the society but the tricky part is to understand the psychological one. To be able to search for traces that our natural environment left for us and translate them to meet our psychological needs is a time taking process. However it is critical we understand the importance of it. We are not living close to our natural environment anymore as we were supposed to; which is in turn affecting our ability to think and innovate.


But how does this New Environment affect us as a person?

We have to understand that it is not the “new environment” that affects us, but the way we are creating it. We should acknowledge that we retain the ability to create conducive environments that encourage and engages our mind, and to create surroundings that fulfill our physiological and psychological needs as well.

Our dwellings do not have to be mere containers to provide shelter rather they should be spaces that sprout and create numerous possibilities for taking up various endeavors.

Similar to our natural environment that had character, diversity and richness and kept our mind engaged, our “new environment” has to be equally conducive for creative growth and evolution.


The same space is used for various activities; the dwelling in not just a mere mundane shelter



New Environment: An Obvious Co-Relation: To create this New Environment into a diverse and enriching experience, we have to fall back and translate the blueprints of our natural environment to match the modern needs of the society.

Currently we are replacing our natural environment with a dull, similar, mundane and a repetitive one. Rather than creating an environment that is devoid of any character and does not foster free thinking and creativity. We should be documenting, interpreting and translating the one that does !


Literally copying the forms from nature is not the key, we will have to dig much deeper and understand the innate character. Many people who acknowledge this phenomenon have already started working on it and have been able to objectify connect between our “Natural Environment” and our “New Environment”. Standing at the verge; it is needed that we understand our natural state of environment more thoroughly than ever.

It is for us to acknowledge the same and give its due importance to the obvious co-relation! It is not critical for all of us to understand everything, such as the complete process and the minute details of our existing environment. It is critical to create demands for new and better environments.

It is only then, that we can create holistic “new environments” that are livable, experiential and inspirational to live in.

                                       Real scale comparison of a typical termite colony to the tallest man-made structure

                                      Real scale comparison of a typical termite colony to the tallest man-made structure