Acting natural does not mean: re-enacting nature

To illustrate, these two images I came across while browsing last night.


Photo taken in Kyoto, Japan, by Haku Huang

Like many people, I’m in love with the sensibility of Japanese old culture. Since Lao Tzu and before, they’ve been aware of the importance of naturalness and harmony with nature.

However, these stepping stones don’t do it for me. Aside from the joyful experience (and perhaps zen) of jumping from one stone to the other, there really is no reason for stepping stones in this garden. They’re laid out like nature put them there, but we all know this is not the truth. A simple, honest path – also much appreciated in Japanese gardening – would be much more naturally human solution for crossing the lawn.

We shouldn’t be afraid to show humanity in our design.


Woodland Residence, by Stephen Stimson

Based on this single image (I deliberately haven’t checked out images of the rest) I would say that this garden embraces nature as much as the Japanese one. Plants grow in abundance, it moves with the hillside and even has flowing water (video).

The design accentuates all these aspects; the wall accentuates the slope by contrast, the water is given center stage by lifting it off of the ground.

It offers us a heightened appreciation of nature, without denying our human design skills.

Acting natural doesn’t mean re-enacting nature. You don’t have to see nature to feel natural.