Architecture in harmony with nature

In the film Ex-Machina, a modernist home belonging to a reclusive tech billionaire nestles beside a river, partially hidden by forest. The setting is Alaska but in reality the home is a combination of two structures in Norway: the Juvet Landscape Hotel and The Residence, a private house.

They were both designed by Norwegian architect firm Jensen & Skodvin. “We found a hotel complex, which has these little cabins”, says Mark Digby (production designer for the film) about the Juvet. The space was too small to shoot the whole film in however. “We thought we might have to build, but the guy who owned it said ‘Well, there’s a house being built by the same architect not half an hour away.’ We went to have a look at that, it had exactly the same architectural features and the same texture of the concrete, the same height…except it was built into the mountainside. We had a duality of nature and the man-made structure there.”

The Juvet Landscape Hotel (Image source:
A view from the hotel, as seen in Ex-Machina (Image source:
The room and the rock appear to merge together (Image source:
The rock doubles as a wall in the living room (Image source:

Fallingwater, a house designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, appears to have grown out of the rocks it is built on. It is a masterpiece of organic architecture, blending into the natural landscape of Bear Run Nature Reserve in Pennsylvania. Cantilevered terraces overhang the waterfall like rock ledges. The colours of the walls and terraces blend with the natural landscape.

Fallingwater (Image source:

Nature can be found inside the house too. In front of the fireplace, parts of a boulder on which the house was built appear to rise up from the floor. And the landscape outside is echoed in the floor’s flagstones which are waxed to appear wet like the bottom of Bear Run, the stream outside.

Exposed boulder (Image source: Pinterest)
The living room with waxed flagstone flooring (Image source: Pinterest)

Edgar Kauffman jr., a leading authority on Frank Lloyd Wright, said of Fallingwater: “Its beauty remains fresh like that of the nature into which it fits. Itself an ever-flowing source of exhilaration, it is set on the waterfall of Bear Run, spouting nature’s endless energy and grace. House and site form the very image of man’s desire to be at one with nature, equal and wedded to nature..”

Nature writing

In the morning the hedges and plants are festooned with cobwebs. Bluebells decorate the garden.

Blossom on the trees. Potted plants hang from a metal fence. A cat leaps across the grass and into a wooded area. A squirrel forages on the lawn. Up in a tree, wood pigeons nibble on young leaves. Birdsong fills the air.

Some birds are busy building nests. A pair of magpies fly across the garden, carrying long twigs back to a tall tree. A blue tit has picked a nesting site near my window. Sometimes it lands on a metal bracket that holds up the guttering, its beak filled with nesting materials like moss, hair and feathers.

At the edge of Edgbaston Reservoir coots and moorhens nest among the willow trees. A couple of adult coots swim with their chicks. The chicks clamber on to a branch that juts out of the water.

A heron stands like a statue on the bank of the canal. Another flies overhead. It’s wingspan is huge.

A spring evening. The days are staying light for longer. Blue sky with sunlight. Jackdaws perch in a tree.