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The Primal Form Directory. The exploration and discovery of the primal form principle.

Updated: Jul 9

Nature's designs combine function and beauty. Beauty comes in part from the integrity of that function. An egg is an example of a beautiful shape, one of function in perfection. It has an incredible strength in ways that is required, but also a fragility. It requires strength to protect the growing life inside, but also the fragility to enable that grown life to break out at the required time.



Natural design is and has been an essential part of humanity's development, as well as in animal and plant development. The beehive structure was named presumably because it was attributed to bees making it. Apart from this it has been important for people's use in many parts of the world. It has particular qualities that make it useful. It can be constructed in simple materials without the need for extra support structures. This is due to its shape. It can be seen as an arch shape, but in three dimensions. Because it rises to a pinnacle, like the arch, it does not require the support that a dome shape would  to prevent it from collapsing at the top. On a beach in Sardinia some years ago, I was able to build these structures in wet sand by the sea. The sand here was particularly good for this.

I arranged competitions with children around to build the largest examples. The requirement was that the structure had to be hollow inside and fully complete, sealed right to its apex.


Other structures have defined their cultural design heritage. The wooden temple designs of Japan and China have distinctive roofs that overlap the main structure. This is achieved by an intricate bracket assembly that enables the roof beams to extend out. This is particularly used at the corners of the roof. Another example of an advanced bracket like use is in the "stalactite honeycomb" structures that are common in Islamic architecture. These structures are predominantly used under domes and arches and are in some way decorative as well as being structurally supportive.


Buttresses are common in Gothic cathedral architecture helping to support tall walls. Walls that require extra support because of large tracery windows that effectively weaken the slim style walls. Buttresses are used in nature. Tall rainforest trees need extra support due to their height and the shallowness of their roots in the thin rainforest soil.

The branch of a tree is in effect a type of bracket, enabling it to extend its canopy and support growth along its length. It's ever increasing branching draws comparisons to the temple roof examples.

The rib is another important structural element widely employed in nature. The extensive use of the rib cage and it's use for protection and strength. This fundamental importance has made it indispensible in human design and use. The basic leaf has a rib structure that supports the thin leaf material.  This laticeworkcan be seen in a myriad of natural examples, eg corals. Similarly there are many examples of human application. The windows in cathedral architecture have patterns of structural ribbing that houses the glass.. The vaulted ceiling also use ribbing as part of their structure. Fundamentally, beams are the ribs that support a roof. Joists support floors, walls and windows all require this structural support.

Also included here are the structural material that is included to strengthen and give substance in various building applications. Theae can range from metals rods to straw, depending on cultural methods, availability and design requirements. These are all examples of prime methods that enable form and structure to be realised.




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