Nature and architecture: revisiting the fractal connection in Amasya and Sea Ranch
Authors: Vaughan, Josephine; Ostwald, Michael J.
Over the last few decades Complexity Science has shown that many natural systems possess similar geometric patterns that are repeated over multiple scales of observation. Using Euclidean geometry it is impossible to measure these forms—such as the length of a coastline or the silhouette of a mountain—as the closer one approaches with a measuring device, the longer the result becomes. In response to this situation fractal geometry was developed as a means for determining, over progressive scales, the characteristic visual complexity of natural systems and forms. More recently it has been demonstrated that fractal geometry can also be applied to the constructed environment and measurements have been made of the visual complexity of building types and urban layouts. With a common quantitative method for determining the fractal geometry of both natural and constructed forms it is possible to investigate the extent to which buildings can be a reflection of their natural setting. One of the first examples of this being attempted involves a comparison between the fractal dimensions of the urban and architectural features of the city of Amasya in Turkey and the landforms of its natural setting. With only minimal evidence, a range of conclusions was drawn from this early study about the connection and influence of a local ecology on local architecture. The present paper re-tests these previous results, which supported a key argument about traditional and regional architecture. In addition, the paper examines existing approaches to measuring fractal dimensions and explores further the application of fractal geometry to ecology and to architecture.