5 Ecological Structures Through History

Ecological structures have evolved to where they are today based on our understanding of construction materials and technological growth. This type of sustainable architecture is as of recently becoming widely accepted within the world of design and engineering. The design principles of ecological structures have undergone great transformation in a short time both conceptually and physically. To illustrate this point, I’ve chosen five strong examples of sustainable ecological structures from the late 1800’s to the early 2000’s. These particular examples are a small sample of the many to be found, but are some of the most interesting pieces in my opinion. The way sustainable design is illustrated through these photos explores the many possibilities these ecological structures can provide.

5 Green Metamorphic Designs


Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

1. Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens, 1893 (Lord & Burnham)

This botanical garden is green is more ways than one. Silver LEED certified, it’s known as the most “energy-efficient conservatory in the world”.


View from the roof of the Villa Savoye looking at the garden. Image via Galinsky.

2. Villa Savoye, 1930 (Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret)

A rooftop garden is just one of 5 points of architecture Le Corbusier encouraged throughout his life. Many may think that rooftop gardens are a recent or new trend, but this idea has been around since the 20’s, and Le Corbusier was the concept’s forefather.


Night image of the Earthship, Thumb House. Image via Biotecture.

3. Thumb House, 1972 (Mike Reynolds)

This was Reynolds’ first “Earthship” ecological structure that started him on his Biotecture journey. This Thumb House was made from recycled and natural materials, like reused beer cans and plastics.


An aerial view of Masdar City. Image via Foster+Partners.

4. Masdar City, 2006 (Norman Foster + Partners)

Foster + Partners have always incorporated sustainable thinking into their designs. However, this eco-city which holds many similar principles as Arcology, is a far better example of their efforts in this area.


Centre Pompidou-Metz located in Metz, France. Image via Centre Pompidou-Metz.

5. Centre Pompidou-Metz, 2010 (Shigeru Ban)

This beautifully majestic art museum holds sustainable ecological design principles such as vegetative roofs and solar panels. The Centre is known for its large and unique roof structure, one of the most complex roof designs ever created.

Although dramatically different in design, these structures represent a movement that continues to develop into more than just a concept to consider.

About The Author

is a undergrad student who has been studying architecture for over four years, first at Pratt Institute and now at UCF. Sustainability is important to her as a designer because architects greatly influence the environment through building and construction. It's vital for her to understand what the current issues are and how we can go about improving them. Her motto is "We can't create innovation without knowing what has already been done".