Analysis Of Feng Shui Philosophy Essay

The topic chosen for this project is Feng Shui and its relationship to Organic Architecture, as they both are truly complex philosophies of architecture that focus on similar principles. Nowadays, these preferred architectural designs are taking many new directions and becoming an increasingly attractive idea for owners to implement in their buildings (Mainini, 2004, p.17).

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Organic architecture itself, is a philosophy of architecture that endorses the positive and harmonious coexistence of human habitation and nature through the integration of buildings and its interiors with all that is nature based ,all this to make the inhabitants feel unified with nature itself (Laseau, Tice, 1992, p.4). Similarly, Feng Shui is an “Ancient Eastern art of placement that believes that buildings should allow for a positive flow of energy called Chi” (Craven, N/A) and accentuates on Taoism, which emphasizes on an harmonious living with nature (BBC, 2009). In itself, it treats one’s surrounding environment as an “essential of the art of living”( MDA- DEVELOPMENT.COM, 2002).

Since their conceptualization, much has changed, and now architects are actually seeking to revolutionize even more this bond between human habitation and the natural environment to make it even more complex integrating contemporary trends and interests of society to the natural world (Pearson, 2001, p.1). Organic architecture and Feng Shui’s background and their philosophy as well as their application to the hotel industry with some challenges and solutions, will be further discussed in this paper. Moreover, competitors and their strengths and weaknesses will also be covered, with an additional analysis of a specific project from one of these competitors.

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Figure Example of Feng Shui – Water and Wind in Harmony


To further analyze this topic, the use of secondary data will be employed through academic articles, weblogs and websites, pertaining to this subject. The topic will be explained from different viewpoints due to the contentious and difficulty (Mainini,2004, p.199) in identifying this harmonious relation organic architecture has to Feng Shui approach in the hospitality industry; this is mainly because the quintessence of these philosophies pivots on the actual self intuitive interpretation of each designer which can comprehensively vary.

Executive Summary (250-300)
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Figure Balance between the ElementsAgainst common belief, Organic Architecture has actually been present for many years, dating actually to around the 4th Century B.C., when Aristotle illustrated the Paradigm of imitating Nature (AragA?ez, 2010, p.1).This philosophy was initially perceived by Louis Sullivan, who believed that “form follows function”. His student, Frank Lloyd Wright took a step forward from his mentors slogan, and later developed the now known, modern “Organic architecture”, by arguing that “form and function are actually one” (Cruz,2012, p.1), and recognition of this achievement has bestowed him the acknowledgment of being one the world’s most famous architects. Fascinatingly, the meaning of organic is something of, relating to, or derived from living matter (, N/A), whereas Organic Architecture gives it a different meaning: “it is reinterpretation and extension of natureaa‚¬a„?s principles” (Cruz, 2012, p.29) filtered through the sophisticated minds of human beings, allowing them to create buildings that represent and surpass the true essence of nature itself (Krall, 2013, p.1). Fundamentally, organic architecture entails a respect for materials and their properties (Elman, 2008, p.1). A famous quote by Wright himself is:” The solution of every problem is contained within itself” (Wright, N/A, cited in Freed, 2012,p.1); What Wright wanted to make clear, is that for a building to exist, all it requires is simplicity and repose, and that it should be in tone with nature itself (Pearson,2001,p.191).

Similarly, Feng Shui dates from 17th century, if not before, but has just recently gained popularity in western architecture (Kennedy, 2011, p.1). It’s conceptualization is based on many principles of harmony and flow of energy, that can take up to years to fully understand and apply to one’s life. As mentioned earlier, it emphasizes on the harmonious living with nature, which is similar to the principle of Organic Architecture, the main difference between these philosophies is that Feng Shui not only focuses on architecture, but also on every persons’ piece of life. By altering one’s self and environment, the flow of “Chi” will improve and thus enable for a better life (Mainini, 2004, pp. 29-30). Even so, many believe Feng Shui to be a mere superstition, but in the 20th century, the use of Feng Shui was enforced by the discovery of Quantum Physics which confirmed the principle of Feng Shui , “that there is a global energetic connection among every element of the physical world”( Loretta, 2010, p.67)

Figure Feng ShuiIn this day and age these philosophies are achieving much recognition in the hospitality industry, and hotel managers are urged to adapt their buildings to these philosophies. Firstly, due to the current concern of our generation, which is the fear of not respecting nature which will cause its inevitable destruction, is prompting people to want to understand how to live “harmoniously” with nature (Pfeiffer, 2004, p.12). Furthermore, there is a high demand of customers wanting to improve their life’s by being exposed to healthy and harmonious features in life, by surrounding themselves with nature and positiveness, which are what Organic Architecture and Feng Shui are all about (Mainini, 2004, pp.48-49).C:UsersPublicDocumentsBBA7Designing and Managing BuildingProjecttttt.jpg

Challenges in Feng Shui and Organic Architecture
Impracticability and wastage

Both philosophies have a certain set of principles they need to abide by in order to be categorized as such designs, nevertheless, for this reason they can be also criticized as being too space wasteful in addition to environmentally consuming. According to Pearson (2001, p.102), the true essence of Organic Architecture is that it must be one with nature in its construction, that it must not have to destroy in order to create but rather adapt to its environment. It is well known that in order to build structures, nature has had to be “tampered with” in order to create space, for this reason, the principle of “adapting to nature” of the Organic philosophy is said to be controversial and hypocritical. Also, in the case of Feng Shui, its effectiveness is derived from the smooth passage of “chi” throughout ones residence, with no interfering obstructions, so essentially, it requires space (Kennedy,2011,p.35). In many hotels a lot of space is “wasted” in order for the “chi” to transcend throughout the building, this can be considered unconventional due to the amount of unused space which is an evident loss for the building in terms of revenue (De Baene, 2013). Unfortunately for this challenge there is no evident solution due to the obvious principle that: in order to build, one must destroy. Perhaps the best advice in this issue is to recommend architects to bear in mind, when designing Organic/Feng Shui structures, that the prime principles of these philosophies to avoid disrupting natural environments while at the same time making the most use of the space available while not expending too much room.

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When it comes to Feng Shui, the principles emphasize on the importance of there being different “levels” in an area so that the “chi” can circle smoothly (Kennedy, 2011, p.257). This can be accommodated with the use of stairways (Weber, 2012, p.1); unfortunately, when it comes to practicability, there is a definite issue in this matter due to the impracticability when accommodating disabled customers in the room. For this reason, hotel structures should reconsider applying Feng Shui to all parts of a building in order to accommodate disabled individuals, or possibly reinvent the balancing of levels in a different manner for a specific area.

Inconsistencies in the Philosophies
Eric Lloyd Wright ( Frank Lloyd Wrights’ grandson) mentioned that both organic architecture and Feng Shui share a lot of principles and are quite similar, in many ways this is correct. But there is one matter that defies the main Feng Shui principle; Feng Shui architecture and lifestyle are conducted for the sole purpose of recommending people on how to enhance one’s living space in order to create a harmonious and habitable structure (Kennedy, 2011, pp.11-12). While Wright’s principles of design was ” form over function”, meaning that comfort could be sacrificed in order to achieve artistic beauty. Additionally, in some instances, Wright was known to personally add accessories and decorations to his residences, as he believed that he was not only the architect but also the designer; he practically decided how the residents would live in the house without allowing any altering of the houses’ personality to its inhabitants (Brandt, 2010).
Many organic buildings nowadays are not considered structures that can be inhabited, first because they are not comfortable, and also due to the fact that, most of them are showcases/museums, not actually living infrastructures. For example, Wrights most famous building, Fallingwater House is not anymore a residence but a structure open to the public for “education and appreciation of Frank Lloyd Wrightaa‚¬a„?s masterpiece” (, 2013).

Figure Guggenheim Museum in New YorkAnother inconsistency is noticed in Wrights’ architectural design of the Guggenheim Museum, located in New York. Both Feng Shui and Organic architecture emphasis on the importance of their structures being ” in harmony with nature” (Cruz, 2012, p.29). According to Pearson (2001,p.189), building plans that consider themselves organic must have been entirely subjected to their natural environment, implicating that these designs must verify that they were developed from their very surroundings. Regrettably , the Guggenheim does not follow this principle, as it was built, not only in one of the world’s noisiest cities, thus hindering the rule of peacefulness and tranquility, but also it has no connection to its natural environment as there is not nature surrounding the building (Steve, N/A).C:UsersPublicDocumentsBBA7Designing and Managing BuildingProjectguggenheim.jpg

Competitive Architects
Frank Lloyd WrightC:UsersPublicDocumentsBBA7Designing and Managing BuildingProjectFLW.jpg

Figure Frank Lloyd WrightFrank Lloyd Wright is said to be the “father” of Organic architecture, as he was the first to conceptualize this philosophy and to apply it to architecture. For this reason his work is said to be unique and gave the foundation for many that followed him in his philosophy. Although he lived way before Feng Shui reached the west, it is noticeable in many of his works the balance he wanted to achieve between his works and nature. Laseau & Tice (1992, p.4) explain that for Wright, Organic architecture was not preconceived for a specific something, it is “a natural and free architecture of ideal democracy”; for this reason many argue that the correct name for this philosophy should have been “integral” or “intrinsic” architecture rather than organic.

Wright not only envisioned a new art of design, but at the same time provided America with its own architecture and aided in endeavoring shaping of America’s democratic emergence and evolution into the modern world” (McCarter, 2006, pp.7-8). Various books and autobiographies were written on his personal and professional life, although there is an obvious lack of explanation about his design processes (Laseau & Tice, 1992, p.180). Although a genius architecture, his personal life was troubled by various divorced and fires which caused many drawbacks in his professional performance (The Biography Channel website, 2013). Wrights most famous and established piece of work was Fallingwater, in this work, instead of pushing nature aside, Wright incorporated it into the center of the home Fallingwater building – (Steve, N/A). So even after his death, 50 years ago, Wrights’ work is timeless and affects many modern architectural designs (McCarter, 2006, p. 8).

Simona Mainini
A true Feng Shui master is Dr. Simona Mainini. Dr. Mainini not only uses Traditional Feng Shui to aid others in their personal life’s, but also specializes in architectural design (Feng Shui for Architecture, 1997). She currently owns her own firm that operates in both Europe and US since the 1997. She was nominated an expert in this field, and for this has had the opportunity to attend many conferences and improved worldwide knowledge of Feng Shui through media and also through her school. Mrs. Mainini has offered her services of expertise to a number of clients, from Commercial institutions, to Private Residences and Private Organizations, in addition to Wrights own grandson, Mr. Eric Lloyd Wright, who acclaims her work, by stating:

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Figure Dr. Simona Mainini”Architecture and Environment are the milestone of Organic Architecture, promoted by my family since Frank Lloyd Wright created this terminology. Today, as a third generation Organic Architect, I am excited to see the idea of unity with nature rediscovered and amplified according to the ancient science of Feng Shui. […]. Not only were the ideas of Feng Shui in harmony with those of Organic Architecture, but they also stimulated my creative response to the environment and helped me to improve upon my design”.

Her expertise, inspired her to create a book” Feng Shui for architecture”, which helped fill in the gaps of this ancient and mysterious Asian philosophy(Mainini,2004,p.17). There have been many critics that described her book to be inaccurate, as it is not possible to create a “manual” to Feng Shui, this art is complicated and it cannot be written down the way Mrs. Mainini did. Firstly due to the inaccuracy in the readings of the compass due to fluctuations caused by electric currents that generate magnetic fields on earth (Woodford, 2012) Furthermore, there is an overall skepticism pertaining to this philosophy and its idea of “a mystical belief in cosmic harmony” due to the lack of consistent methodology in its application (Queenan, 2002)

Javier Senosiain

Figure Javier SenosiainJavier Senosiain is a Mexican architect well-known as a key promoter and explorer of Organic Architecture. Although his principle derived from Wrights’ Organic architecture, Senosiain is a pioneer to a new type of Organic Architecture, one that truly exemplifies Feng Shui in its design, as it combines many natural elements into one space incorporating the surroundings. Many of his works were deemed extravagant yet brilliant pieces of art that truly made him stand out in the architect world. What differentiates this architect is the notion that he has made his career by analyzing and making use of the principle of nature inspiring form for many of his works.

Figure Nautilus InsideHis most know, is the Nautilus; the structure was not only fruit of an incredible imagination but it proves to be a truly efficient as it is both maintenance free- and earthquake-proof (TrA©ndir, 2009). It truly exemplified Wright’s work as it had no linear shaping, it was a free flow of arrangement. As you can see in Error: Reference source not found, the structure brightly implemented a good balance with nature, which was demonstrated as nature was incorporated directly inside of the structure, making the home one with its environment. C:UsersPublicDocumentsBBA7Designing and Managing BuildingProjectnautilus.jpg

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Fallingwater was probably the most relevant piece of work Wright had ever created.

In 1935, Mr. Edgar Kaufmann appointed Mr. Wright to construct a week-end home for his family in Pennsylvania.

Figure Fallingwater Main viewThe location he desired was to be in a forest characterized by immense trees where the woodland felt alive with the sound of its habitants. It’s most regarded feature was a runlet that would develop into a waterfall leading into a beautiful pond. This sight not only exhilarated but also intrigued Wright, as he saw this location as a prime place to render homage to his organic philosophy of architecture (Jaffe, 2008).

For a long period of time Wright contemplated on how to establish this construction. Saggio (2010,p.143) revealed that Wright only started to actually make the final designs of Fallingwater in the eight hours it took Kaufmann to get to Wright’s residence. C:UsersPublicDocumentsBBA7Designing and Managing BuildingProjectblueprint FW.JPG

Another important elaborated innovation Wright adopted in the production of Fallingwater was a risky but necessary change in the projection method of using a “grill” to make the blueprint, which was usually used in order to maximize space and control of the structures’ dimension. Instead, he drew streaks every three meters, to create octagons delineating “bays” separating between the rocks and the runlet, which determined the structure of the edifice. (Saggio, 2010, p.144). In addition, to enhance the organic principles, Wright only made use of the materials he found surrounding the structure to build it, in order to preserve this principality of “harmony with nature”.

What Wright wanted to realize was the adaptation of a building to its surrounding, he wanted the structure to resemble and be part of its environment, and he succeeded in this by developing the main structures in the bays, resembling the tree trunks.

Figure Fallingwater and the waterfall viewFallingwater is not only a spectacle to admire, but also a building with fascinating features which enhance the belief of many, that Wright’s work was influenced by Feng Shui values. Wrights’ concept of the house is to create a close bond with the occupants and the environment, Furthermore, by being located directly above a waterfall, the residents have the benefit of hearing the pleasant sound of the cascading water into the pond (Pfeiffer, 2004, p.53). C:UsersPublicDocumentsBBA7Designing and Managing BuildingProjectorganic_architecture_7a.jpg

Challenges and solutions

The issue with Fallingwater is that in order to be of organic philosophy, it must be “one” with nature; and when gazing upon this immense structure it is difficult not to notice it’s majestic and expansive gray construction among the green and brown colors of the forest. The contrast between the horizontal and vertical shapes is vast, as the buildings low height is overcrowded by the structures amplitude. The architecture of Fallingwater is abstract and contemporary, it does not integrate at all in the nature. Wright diverges from this idea and creates his own inspiration of what he declares is nature. After the creation of Fallingwater, a new concept was formed, nature was not anymore the delineator or comparator of the right structure, but rather the field in which an architect can transform and develop himself. For this reason Fallingwater was portrayed as the introduction to the prominence in Organic architecture

Learning Outcomes

Trough the effective writing of this research paper, much knowledge was gained in reference to the relationship of Organic architecture and Feng Shui, such as:

The development of this paper enlightened the idea of the true essence of what is actually the purpose of Organic Architecture as well as its relationship and bond to Feng Shui.

Interestingly enough in section 5, it was relatively difficult to come across a true Feng Shui architect, this highlighted the notion that Feng Shui has a limited amount of individuals that truly understand its prime principle as it is a truly complex conception to understand and apply, especially in terms of architecture

Although there are many structures that are categorized as being made, following the Organic architectural design, it is relevantly hard to establish what these principles are due to the variability of the characteristics structures must follow which depend on the environment surrounding the specific structure

Feng Shui application is performed with the use of a compass to determine the positioning of the desired object, based on the land, climate, shape and other factors ( Kennedy, 2011, p.20)

Furthermore, there are different “Schools” of Feng Shui, that approach it in different matters

Organic architecture is not just about being one with nature, but mainly of being one in nature, but at the same time standing out as nature itself