J A M E S   W A L T E R


List of essays below.  Click on the title to go to the full essay.

By James Walter Schildroth, Architect

I welcome any questions or discussion.  Send me an e-mail with"Organic" in the subject line so I don't delete you as SPAM.  

For those interested in the true definition of Organic Architecture. This excerpt from an interview with James Schildroth architect explains it absolutely perfectly;
Mark Darrall’s Questions: Answered by James Walter Schildroth, Organic Architect
Mark: 1. Building, like life itself, is evolutionary and never stopping. How would you say this comes out in the " final product" --- the built structure?

James Schildroth: First I would say that the creation of Organic Architecture is very different from the action of just designing a building. Since OA is not a style and is not copied intentionally, it is an expression of an individual mind. Who and what that individual is, has everything to do with what will be created. As the Individual matures and grows so will that individuals expression of Architecture. The more the individual understands himself and the physical environment he has been born into, the better he will be able to create architecture of and in harmony with this physical place we live.
The creation of Organic Architecture is the coming together of three major players; the Client, the Site and the Architect. All three must be present for the result to be Organic Architecture and the resulting creation springs from the interrelationship of all three. Now it is possible to adapt an original creation to a new site, but in my view it is not truly Organic, even though it may be done very well and fit in if done by a skillful architect. Mr. Wright often did this with his designs that were not built on the original site or even by the original client. In the strict use of the concept, architecture is not Organic unless created from the specific site. I find that even if I move a design even a few feet on the original site it begins to effect the design concept. So the place on the earth, or some other location in the universe, is very important to the creation of the design. The Site is much more then just topography or climate. To design truly Organic Architecture the site must be experienced by the architect and as many times as necessary until the conception is in mind. There is, I believe, more than just physical information to be received at the site. All the senses come into play including the sixth.
The Client is the second essential source of very important information. Without a client there is no Organic Architecture. The real needs and conditions of the client is what I look for and not what they tell me they want. This requires real understanding of the client and some of the needs will not be revealed until very late in construction. So the design is constantly changing from first meeting until construction is complete. This can go on for ever as in the case of Mr. Wright and both Taliesin and Taliesin West.
The Architect is the third part of the whole interrelationship. The Architect to me can only be a single individual mind, not a committee. Organic Architecture is a creative act of conception and that can only be done by an individual mind.
I think the question is more about how the final form comes into being. To me the creative process is more growth than evolutionary. It is in three steps that continuously expand as the design forms and moves from formless first contact to complete physical existence. The form is continually changing and growing all through the course of the creation and this is done completely in the mind of the individual designer, not on the drafting board or on the computer. The design should not be physically recorded until it can be seen completely enough for the designer to be able to walk through and around it in his minds eye. The mind of the individual is the source of original form. It is private solo work and must not be shared until it is drawn or recorded and fully developed by the individual. When the concept is complete and drawn to the designers individual satisfaction, then is the time to present your design to the client or review by others.
The three parts of the creative process are as follows:
Understand the conditions and needs and get the information into your mind. Not just available in some unread resource but known first hand. Get the problem into your mind. I call it internalization of the problem.
Do something else. Do not concentrate directly on getting an idea. An idea will come to your mind. It will probably be unfamiliar at least we hope so, because if it is to familiar, you copied. Ideas seldom start as complete forms, they grow and develop in the mind and build on the original partial vision. Keep the vision in your mind and do not speak of it or try to draw it until it is complete enough to see and visualize from all sides, within and around.
When it is complete in the mind then draw it and refine the details.
As new conditions are presented and the design must be revised then just repeat the three part process. Changed conditions, bring new visions in part two. Trust this process it has worked for me for over 36 years. The individual human mind is the source of all creative ideas.

Mark: 2. Do you feel environmental concerns---such as energy conservation, material and process selection based on environmental performance, "sustainable" living, etc. are an integral part of Organic Design? Should they be of equal importance to expressive considerations?

James Schildroth: I would say this. You will design what you believe in and from the maturity and understanding you posses. If Organic Architecture is what you believe in and want to do, then you will want to design in harmony with the conditions that are natural to that environment. The expression of the form will be the creative result of your understanding of the conditions and the needs.
Choice of materials, should be made before step two and are part of internalization of the problem and are the reasoning part of the creative process. The mind will solve all the conflicting conditions for you, just feed it the facts and do something else. Nature spelled with a capital "N" is the great teacher. The Nature of everything. The better you understand the Nature of this place you call home, the better Organic Architect you will become. Be a student of the Nature of Life.
One of the major conditions of part one is that architecture is for human beings and an understanding of yourself and what make us all human is an important part of making you an Organic Architect. Organic Architecture is design in harmony with Nature. We all have to live together on this earth and some believe for many life times, so the new buzz word of sustainability has always been important to the Organic Architect. It is the individuals choice by his point of view that makes the difference in what each designer brings to the creative table. Your design will reflect what and who you are, your philosophy, attitude and life experience are part of your expression in form.

Mark: 3. Could you summarize your personal design process? Is there a combination of intuition and ration, and could you say how much of your process is intuition and how much rational? How is the mental process of design ( thought-building, as FLW once said) coordinated with the physical process of drawing and model-making?

James Schildroth: I have touched on this earlier here. The Individual mind is the source of all creativity. It is both reason and intuition that are necessary in the creation of Organic Architecture or any original idea. Our standard education teaches us to copy or manipulate information which is already known or to look to existing sources. This does not work when you are searching for original form and expression. Within the individual mind is where the creative action takes form.

Essays on Organic Architectural Principles

Design Process

How I conceive and design organic architecture.

Organic Architecture

The Organic Unit System

Why Frank Lloyd Wright and I use the unit system.