There's an absolutely appalling design ethos that I see permeating the western world that is devoid of curves and fire. New home construction in Central Europe looks as if the 'Borg' designed it with all the imagination of clumping one box to another box and so on. Where did the organic lines go? Charming A-Frame and doubled gable roofs have given way to Helipads. As nice as some of these homes might be on the inside the sterile, modern art museum feel always turns me off. With no fire element or curves I have been left to wonder if the designers of these buildings have ever explored Bio-Geometry or Feng Shui. The hubris of steel and glass has created an amnesia to what got us here.
My architectural/design journey began in earnest when I moved to a small Thoreau like cabin in the Jungle of Costa Rica. Integrating into such a small space proved quite the challenge. For two years I slept in a bedroom where the closet door was off and all the clothes could be seen from my king sized bed. That aformentioned bed was way too big for such a meager space. Unbeknownst to me there was water damage that had caused a black mold problem. These three factors contributed to many restless nights where I would have nightmares and wake up wheezing. To feel any relief at all I would scamper to my back porch and lay in a hammock where the fresh air and open floorplan would instantly relax me.
I added a Casita,’Little House,’ as an addition to sleep in. With big airy windows, soft curves, no site lines to any furniture and no dead spaces my feeble body could sleep deeply for the first time in years. By changing the Shape of my sleeping cocoon I dramatically improved the quality of my life. The first time I had been exposed to this Principle was when I attended Cal Earth University for a dome building workshop. This is the mecca of rammed earth dome builders in the United States. I got to sleep in one of their bee-hive shaped domes that have these protrusions called ‘Bed Wombs.’Get it? Bed Wombs??? What an uncanny calming effect the low slung, curved ceiling had. The ‘Womb' was small but it only had a bed in it. As you crawled in there was no mistaking that there is only one thing to do in this space, well maybe two :). I slept so deeply in the cool, dry, dark bed womb that I was convinced I needed to learn this building style and implement it.
There’s an odd coincidence in that I learned how to build large Bee-Hive shaped rammed earth domes and the fact that Bees use specific cavity shapes as their guidance system. Scientist, Viktor Grebennikov, coined the term Cavity Structure Effect(CSE) after witnessing bees and other insects vector to new abodes. Their flying and internal GPS was determined by specific interactions within their environment. Witnessing this phenomenon in many insect species, he hypothesized that all animals possess an inherent guidance system devoid of synthetic technology that was is attracted to specific shapes.
My neighborhood bees showed me this firsthand. Where I was housesitting happened to be a giant bee magnet. The gap between the oven and the stem wall was a perfect nesting area for these busy little honey-makers. One day a few scouts had buzzed me hard as I was making my breakfast. The next day I came home to find a swarm of a million or so buggers trying to get behind my oven. It was quite surreal because they were so benign. They flew in this circular pattern and paid absolutely no mind to me. Luckily I had a bee keeper as a friend who smoked out the queen later that evening. He had a great laugh because this was the tenth time he had extracted a queen bee from that house. He explained that that particular space was an optimal shape for a hive. From that point it clicked. What shape would make my optimal hive?
Inquiring into building techniques and design brought me to the study of Feng Shui, the Chinese system of spatial harmonization. My fascination with domes was influenced by their coherent Feng Shui. There is an uncanny ambiance created by the double curve of the domes walls. In a round house there are no dead spots. Usually having built-in functional furniture removes clutter and the airflow stays unimpeded. In a lot of ways Feng Shui, CSE, and Bio-geometry mirror hydrodynamics in that they all optimize vorticular flow states in a given space. Stick with me here because our toes are Dipping into many different domains.
Large Water tanks are usually made with rounded edges, even if not being completely round, to reduce stagnation. Most pools you have seen share this characteristic. Curved walls not only encourage spiral flow dynamics they are also much stronger than their flatter counterparts. Think of water and air moving in a similar fashion, this study is called 'Fluid Dynamics.' Now imagine yourself inside room that is a box in shape. Those eight corners that comprise the vertices of the room are dead spots because fluid doesn’t move in them. Inside a box shaped water tank this is where all the mold, mildew and fungus would show up. In a normal room this is also where your cat will meow at all the bad spirits.
Whether you know it or not, your body can feel these stagnations because they are antithetical to organic beings and environments. Show me one vertex that isn't man made. Living in boxes is a relatively new affair that increases stress because they are not resonant cavities for our body like a dome is. Bio-Mimicry is a technology field that literally copies the intelligent design of nature to maximize efficiency. Bio-Geometry similarly mimics nature to find the optimal 'containers' for different shaped organisms. We humans, with all of our dead sexy appendages need dynamic environments to encourage Flow states. Another way of looking at this is with the beautiful word Ambiance.
Ambiance is the mood, character or quality of a given environment. In the context of Bio-Geometry the ambiance would be nourishing, coherent. Coherent means logically connected with the absence of contradictions. ‘There are no contradictions in Nature.’ Bio-Geometry is the art of removing physical contradictions from a space and adding that which amplifies coherence. When designed correctly the Ambiance of a space can determine the ‘quality’ of your experience. The ‘quantified self’ movement is doing a wonderful job of introducing sensitive gadgets that give real time data on how we are reacting to our environment. These devices give instant feedback to how our body reacts to the quality of things. For as neat as the tech is I will go my forefather's route and default to the woman of the house...
At the risk of sounding sexist I would say women are better ambiance detectors than any technological doohickey. Their sense of smell is three times more keen and they need their nest to be orderly to relax much more than men do. If you want there to be a nice evening and don't optimize the Bio-Geometry, i.e. clean, garnish, mood lighting/music, Good Luck!!!! This over simplification is intended to show that we all have experience with engineering our enclosures all the time to fit our given context. Bio-Geometry and Feng Shui are wonderful tools to understand our biology's interconnectedness with our surroundings. Do not discount the influence of the spaces you dwell in on your psychology. With a little TLC the ambiance you generate can heal you and others. For me, building an actual man cave was just what the doctor ordered.