Zoomorphic: New Animal Architecture

The first architectural exhibition to be held in the V&A’s new Contemporary gallery, Zoomorphic documents a highly significant new trend in design - one that will extend and enrich the language of modern architecture for the 21st century, and that is already producing some of the world’s most exciting new buildings.

For me, this exhibition shows the growing importance of the cross-currents between the arts and the sciences. Most of my other projects have been biased towards one or the other; here, they come together. My first inkling of this merger came while I was writing The Most Beautiful Molecule. The perfect form of the buckminsterfullerene molecule has striking similarities not only with the domes of Buckminster Fuller, but also with certain viruses and delicate marine micro-organisms called radiolarians. So, here were buildings modelled after life-forms. This led me in turn to D’Arcy Thompson’s masterpiece, On Growth and Form, which explains why this similarity arises—not simply because it’s a nice idea to imitate nature, but because manmade artefact and natural organism must struggle alike against the same physical forces.

This is not the only reason why buildings are starting to look like animals, however. Some architects are doing it in order to create buildings that will be popular symbols for their cities. Others are using animal form as part of their personal architectural language. Still others are creating animal form not deliberately, but as the accidental by-product of the computer programs they are using, which seem peculiarly skewed towards biomorphism.

‘fantastically exciting ... charming. It made me realize the wonder of nature as much as human endeavour.’ Saturday Review, BBC Radio 4
‘curated wittily and with a light touch.’ Financial Times
‘entrancing’ Nature

See some of the projects here.

Read about the accompanying book.

There’s more about the exhibition on the Victoria & Albert Museum website.