Ken KochArchitectureCommunication Design
Next Carpet
Essay on "Nature and architecture and a possible satisfaction of human senses" and final project at the University of Stuttgart, 2001


Next Carpet refers to two actual and closely related architectural topics, dealing with “nature and architecture“ and a possible “satisfaction of human senses in architecture”.
“Next Carpet” is a metaphor in which the idea of “carpet“, liberated from its original meaning as an element of interior-design, describes a new architectonic layer which has been developed to constitute an authentic construction.
This layer satisfies the human needs, derivated directly from his five senses (visual, auditive, of taste, smell, touch). It has to complete the primary satisfaction of function in architecture by a sensual quality. By this way, it offers direct satisfaction to human.
Searching for a possible stimulation of human senses, we concentrate on the effects of nature, because nature gives plenty of agreeable and acquaint sensations: Architecture combined with nature speaks to the whole body and offers the possibility to speak to all our senses! The integration of fragments of the nature into architecture opens to a new world of visual, acoustical and olfactory sensations (in opposit to the visually dominated world of the electronic globetrotter and numb citizen). An extention of sensual perception in architecture might position human beings in a new manner. For that, nature becomes an evident and enriching element.

New Architectural Layers
The exceptional quality of the architecture of Richard Neutra is seen in his architectural design and brilliant composition and elegance of his buildings. But the real motivation for this way of shaping, the satisfaction of human needs by architecture, was almost unnoticed. Neutra’s oevre is founded in his never-ending interest in fellows with all their needs and not in permanent search for design. Neutra: “The architect shouldn’t revel in selfish self-realization, but he has to study and understand the homo sapiens in his physical and mental nature, like a medical doctor, before starting the medical treatment.“ Neutra believed that people should live and reside in an environnement corresponding to his senses. The starting point for his design he called “biorealism“.

Juhani Pallasmaa manifests: “The architecture of our time is turning into the retinal art of the eye. The gaze itself tends to flatten into a picture and lose its plasticity. With the loss of tactility and the scale and details crafted for the human body and the hand, our structures become repulsively flat, sharpedged, immaterial and unreal. The detachment of construction from the realities of matter and craft turns architecture into stage sets for the eye, devoid of the authenticity of material and tectonic logic. Natural materials - stone, brick and wood - allow the gaze to penetrate their surfaces and they enable us to become convinced of the veracity of matter. The patina of wear adds the enriching experience of time; matter exists in the continuum of time. But the materials of today - sheets of glass, enameled metall and synthetic materials - present their unyielding surfaces to the eye without conveying anything of their material essence or age. Beyond architecture, our culture at large seems to drift towards a distancing, a kind of chilling, de-sensualization and de-eroticization of the human relation to reality.”

Nature and Architecture
Since earliest time nature has been model for human being and influence to his artistic creations. Today, we look back on an almost infinite spektrum of architectural manifestations. It was nature that art was measured against, whether it aimed at visualizing some part of the world outside. Nature alone remained the measure of all imitative art - even and particularly when the ambitious artist trove to surpass nature.
Nature is the main idea in our work. It doesn’t appear in its pure and original form. We don’t translate nature as natural constructions into architectural structures. Also further development of this idea in the field of bionics has no relevance. In the same way our work is not about ecological architecture. Our project focusses on the changeability of nature. We want to integrate natural elements into architecture. Nature becomes both, artificial and artistic element. The artificial of nature contains the possibility of manipulaton, transformation and reproduction at every place.
The possibility of reproduction allows nature and vegetation - originally dependant on ground like architecture - to get emanzipated from it and become autonomous. In this way natural material can be placed in a new way and within new contexts. In the last years the botanist Patrick Blanc developed a system for vertical gardens: Plants grow on vertical surfaces without substratum of soil, just by a circulating nutrimental fluid. This prefabricated and transportable wall can be installed in any inclination, even head over. Vegetation becomes a “material” with the possibility to be decontextualized, mutated and implanted in architecture. Even if the technical part might seem difficult, the problem is to find the right choise of plants. Blanc: “In the traditional garden we accept leaves falling down in autumn but the artificial nature of the vertical garden raises other expectations”. Because of that he assorts plants that keep up green the whole year.

Ex. The Ise-shrine is typical for Japanese feeling for art and for the relation of Japanese to nature. This shrine is one of the greatest shintoistic sanctuaries where Amaterasu, the mythic mother of sun is deifyed. It is placed in a deep forest under old cedars. The shrine belongs to the architectural wonders of the world not because of its magnificence or audacious constructions but because of its simplicity and reduction of its wood-construction to essential. The sanctuary seems to outgrow nature. To emphasize this integration, the Ise-shrine is damaged after 20 years according to the natural law of becoming and passing. Therefor, the same building is erected on the idle lied neighbouring plot. By this, art, nature and religion merge.

We consider that authenticity is exceptionally important for a felicitous architecture with the objectiv to satisfie our senses. Our view of nature changed already in non-architectural domains: Nature and technology are no more antipodes. In medicine we can see the substitution of parts of the body as well as transplantations of whole organs.
Introducing nature into architecture occures a reciprocal penetration and fusion of both spheres and solves the antagonism of architecture and nature. Our purpose is, to find and invent methods and technologies to make architecture alive and to accomplish and fusion artificial and natural processes in our life:
We are working with the basic means of nature to comprise them into architecture. With our research and applied implantations of nature in architecture we want to find solutions for optimized surfaces. For the time being we use the possibility to implant natural phenomens into built architecture and to study the resulting reciprocity as well as the effects on human beings, his sentiments and social interaction. Thereby we don’t restrain on the utilization of natural raw material but we introduce the end-products of natural cycles into the existing building. We attach importance to the natural phenomenon which addresses to the senses. Natural materials as basic element hold only functional value.

Ex. In “Notebook on Cities and Clothes” (directed by Wim Wenders) the Japanese stylist Yohji Yamamoto describes the loss of authenticity of japanese people: “[In old books] you find real men and women, I mean, people, who wear reality. They don’t wear clothes but reality. And this is also my vision of clothes, because I think that you are not only consuming but also living with clothes. This means for me: this is what I want to reach. Just an example: Would you have been born in the 19th century in a less rich country then winter was really cold. It was cold, this is why you needed a thick jacket. This is life, this are real clothes. It has nothing to do with fashion. The jacket is nice because you feel cold and because you wouldn’t be able to live without. It becomes your friend, your family. I get jealous of it. [...] Nowadays, in Japan for example, people think they can consume all, even their life! They consume everything! But they don’t understand the basic things like stones... trees... almost everything! They just think that they can buy all and this is sad.”

Ex. Jeffrey Deitch states a disappearance of authenticity. He says: “Over centuries - in art, philosophy, poetry - search for truth was essential, both moral and aesthetic. Nowadays sciences consecrate on the creation of artificial life and computers create virtual realities; image counts more than substance and everything is marketed - automobiles as well as politicians -, search for truth gets possibly obsolet. The result is no absolut reality but the possibility of multiple realities, all of them both “real“ and artificial as the other one.”

The desire for maximum intensity of experience takes the place of authenticity and nativeness, specially noticeable in the industry of tourism. Research in tourism confirm that the expectations of consumers have changed and gave birth to a new typ of tourist. Heinz Günter Vester wrote: “The so-called post-tourist knows that tourism is a game without any demand of authenticity. [...] Las Vegas, Disney World or the postmodern shopping-mall would disappoint the classical tourist searching for authenticity but the post-tourist would be pleased.”

Applied Implantations of Nature in Architecture

Our first application of natural implantation took place in the “Switzerland”, a bar at the Schlossplatz in Stuttgart. It’s situated on a man-made plain above a street crossing, which is similar to a bridge in its characteristics. There aren’t any trees or plants, the view is only the “Theodor Heuss Strasse” and facades. The whole building is detached, neither horizontally nor vertically touched by other buildings or ground. Light construction and big windows require an air-conditioning system.
The carpeting of naturally grown grass on the floor in the bar area and the lounge took place on June 13th 2002. Before the area was planted, it was covered up with waterproof foil. (v. video documentation: “Next carpet at Switzerland”)

Improvement of the room climate
At peak visiting time (10-12 p.m.), the average humidity was 14% below the previously measured standard value. Although it rained very hard outside and lots of visitors came into the bar, the room climate stayed comfortable and the windows didn’t steam up. The temperature was 23°C-25°C which was less than normal. With an outside temperature of 30°C, as was measured on that evening, and a large amount of visitors, an inside temperature of 30°C was expected. Especially obvious was the clean air, which didn’t smell of smoke, as it most often did.

Reactions of the visitors on the implantation
“That’s really cute! It’s a pity that it doesn’t stay like that. ...I can’t put my feelings into words. It’s as if the lawn and I are one even more.”
“It’s like in a park. You sit on the grass, and the air is clean. The difference is - you are not going to be bitten by ants or mosquitoes. That means, at the same time it’s natural but also very artificial. Strange.”
“It’s a little bit too dark in the lounge, so you feel like being in a forest, especially if you watch the bamboo partition it’s like a bamboo forest. And if you take off your shoes, you also feel it.”
“I fell like I’m dreaming. On one hand I’m in a forest. On the other hand there aren’t any forests with chairs, sofas, tables and couches in it. Fantastic.”
“It’s incredible how people get so relaxed and happy because of the lawn. Normally they are quite stiff and artificial. Not like they are now.”
From the beginning everybody was fascinated by the lawn. Although you would expect that every visitor had seen a lawn before, many of them reacted like they had come across something extraterrestrial. Visitors “greeted” the grass very politely, stroked it like a little dog and carefully touched it with their toes. Others didn’t show any signs of impression, or even completely ignored the manipulated architecture (“I just see what I know”).

We were very happy to see the separee society taking off their shoes in order to put them in the separee shelves. They got free towels and slippers as accessoires. The towels were used for laying on the lawn and sitting on it. They were also used as hot cleaning towels - served for hands, face and neck as revitalising serviettes. In a way they symbolised sympathy to the short trend phenomenon.
The slippers were supposed to free high-heel-wearing women from their foot pain and ease walking on the grass. At the end everybody wore them for their comfort. To round off the summer evening, the visitors could order a cup of citronmelissa and - exclusively gathered from the bar table - peppermint tea. The grass didn’t provoke allergic reactions.
One couldn’t recognise any basic changes of the room perception. However, the symbiosis of Saarinen’s tulip chairs from 1956 together with the grass moved us to a magic, unseen world. (“Romance of the tulip chairs in the meadow”) Most of our separee visitors were impressed by the lawn’s absorption of sound - the music softened because of the grass although it wasn’t possible to physically measure the sound level changing. The implantation of grass helped the visitors to get in contact with others and remember the atmosphere of an outdoor swimming pool. Because of the softened light, however, negative body shapes didn’t take on the importance they would at a pool.

We assess that natural implantations should be applied beyond this context. Undertakings of this kind present a valuable contribution to a well-being of human, for a humanized architecture. We confirm that people didn’t get over the fatal dialectics of emanzipation and alienation, of liberation and the imminent subjection under the coercion of nature and the aspiration for “naturalness“ and nativeness. The aspiration for nature nestles deep in the modern society and rides over natural lifestyle, alimentation and medicine. Nature acts as remedy against the inscrutable and unshirkable natureness to counter our own, constructed, fast and faster-turning world. This is not new. In the equation of natural equal to well - equal to pristine, equal to authentic, equal to heal - nature gets demiurgical lineaments.


Our experiences, research and experiments are gathered in a conception for a bar (v. movie: “Next Carpets World“). Tokyo, representing a high-engineered heterogenous megastructure, acts as testingfield for the structural integration of nature. The building-site is the area in the south of Omotesando-station. Here you find all renowned labels of the international fashion-scene.
One of our ambition is to create confortable, secure and economical habitats for human both inside and outside. Architecture should not only serve to satisfy human needs of space but also offer direct satisfaction of human senses. Leitmotif of our architecture is the human being and the human needs, derivated directly from his five senses. The five senses - to see, hear, taste, smell and touch - define new layers in architecture, which complete the primary satisfaction of function in architecture by a sensual quality. The undertaking is comparable to the doping of an athlete but not in the negative sense. In this context, we define “bar“ not only as bar or counter to sell drinks but also as a place to relax, to recreate and to restore the body. The meaning corresponds rather to the original terme of “restaurant” or the new terme of “spa“.

Luxury is living
Equal to the game of pupae in the subway (v. clip: “Sinnesbefriedigung in der Architektur“), gipsy-music in the anonymous ways or anti-off-odours, new layers should embrace to the increased demands of human beings. We assume a functionable architecture and concentrate on the “secondary parameter“ which define the well-being (“don’t distress yourself, but live!”). By this “ornamentation” and “luxurization” of architecture, we want to create a suggestive architecture by totally diverse sentiments. The luxurizing building material is permanently metamorphing, live-building material (it grows, blooms and fades) and the visiter can take part of this cycle.
By implanting nature into the building, we want to get a direct and more comprehensive impact than the simple Nebeneinander of nature and the built. The natural is not used decoratively but substantial. Architecture is no more the superior structure. Vegetation is defining space, so that the removal would change the whole perception, like an emty plate.
The introduced nature is a reassessed shape of nature. The masking of negative and unpleasant natural experiences is certainly a luxurizing and sumptuous approach. Nevertheless we don’t want to take an aesthetically position. Our purpose is no distraction but to point out human to oneself by our architecture.

Applied Nature
The bar is a three storey high building. You will find a cafebar-shop in the ground floor, an introvertet bar, lounge-area and tearoom at the first floor and an open terrasse-hall with connected private sperarées at the second floor. The building is a stack of different intensities of nature, beginning with natural fragments penetrating architecture and the urban tissue to an completely naturally grown “landscape”. On the other hand, its representing both private and public as well as intermediate compositions, connected by a service core.
The ground floor is an open space defined by the border of the plot and the floating ceiling. The glazing separates outside and inside, it protects against undesirable phenomenons of nature (heat, coldness, waste-emission, taifun) which we can wait and see by the transparency and the possibility to open getting a relaxing environement. By this, you can participate in the happenings of the artificial (the city) in the front of the building and in the sensations of nature in the backside without differenciating from the surroundings in the sense of a fassade as a face or any other kind of representaion. We use the glazing as a material shaping the space, maintaining the continuity of city, bar and nature.
At the ground floor, 4 areas are organized by the service core: the entrance-floor (including coat rack, staircase, elevator) the shop and stop area, the bar, and the cafe and restaurant. The shop and stop area is situated on the street. To accomodate lunch-people who just want to takeaway food it has an entrance on one side and an exit on the other side. The main entrance is in the backside of the new building, to be reached by a narrow path between the bar and the neighbouring house to introduce visitors slowly into the new world.
The bar at level one is quite darkened, one could feel like in a deep, fresh forest. On daytime, guests can have a break and sleep in one of our quietrooms or take a footbath in the kneippool. In the middle of this vertical garden is a teahouse. To keep the same kind of approach, we stacked the path. Delicacies like deep-fried tofu will be served to accompaign your sake or other drinks. These are not ready-made products, just wormed up in the microwave but fresh prepared, sweat and salten delicacies. Our creations vary following the seasons, from day to day.
The terrace is a wide open space, conceived to receive private meetings, events, presentations or expositions. In Japan, people are used to meet friends outside, guests are rarely invited at home. To protect arrangements against wind and rain, the whole surface can be protected by a pull-out tarpaulin with a print of a sky on it, a so called synthetic sky. This artificiality of nature is to merge the nature and the artificial.

Our building material is produced on fields, in greenhouses and tree nurseries to be implantet afterwards into the building. For the natural curtain we use special cultured orchids. We choosed orchids because of their general occurrence and their south-eastern origin. They grow at the equator as well as at the Arctic Circle, on earth, on plants, on rocks and also subterranean. Our species are derivatives of the oncidiums. This species is able to built new shoots in the buds, located in the armpit of the leafs or at the stalk. This orchid forms new plants on the stalks. They grow, bloom and leave a big mesh. The orchids hang down from the ceiling on the inner side of the window. In so doing, it represents a natural curtain (Mesh=French lattice window).
In the inner part, a flower wall connects the three levels. The wall is filled with soil and hides the staircase. According to the season, one can see differently colored hortensias. The main material is the camellia. It blossoms between february and avril. Camellias are evergreen and by that ideal for shrubs and hedges (reinforced with a bamboo-frame). Camellia-roots don’t need deep ground. It grows best on a pervious and acid soil in a shady and protected position. The Camellia takes the function of the wall. We want to conceive the lounge’s wrapping to benefit of the climatical features. In Tokyo, a constant temperature is usually kept by aircondition. Our hedges constitute an opaque layer in front of the inner front. It is protecting the lounge during the day from too much sun. The hedges have different diameters. According to the use of the room, the hedge is arranged differently. So you get both dense and inpenetrable places in the wall and places permeable to light - during the day from outside to inside and during the night from inside to the outside.
Floors are covered with high-densified, stamped loamy soil. Once weared out, you scrapp off the old soil. Our floors “breath” and regulate the amount of humidity to keep a constant and healthy atmosphere.