Nature’s Intelligence

Bay Area–based Chinese American architect and polymath Eugene Tssui believes that “it is the birthright of every human being to live in a world of beauty: a world that is concordant with the needs and aspirations of the innermost and highest elemental powers manifest in nature.” Born in 1954, in Cleveland, OH, Tssui would eventually abandon formal education at Columbia University and the University of Oregon and, in 1976, begin working for Frank Lloyd Wright’s acolyte Bruce Goff. Like some other architects featured in Emerging Ecologies—Carolyn Dry, Wolf Hilbertz, and Glen Small —Tssui sees architecture as part of a continuum with natural processes. In his 1999 book, Evolutionary Architecture: Nature as a Basis for Design, Tssui develops his philosophy over more than 300 pages. For ART PAPERS, he recently summed up some key ideas in only four.

– Carson Chan

A NOTE ON THE TEXT: Tssui’s handwritten text is meant to be read in a zigzag manner: from left to right, then from right to left on the subsequent line, and so forth. He started writing in this way around 1976.

A NOTE FROM TSSUI: “This ‘style’ of writing was created by observing the eye movement when a person is reading. When we read, our eye jerks back-and-forth to follow the text lines, and I realized that this is very fatiguing to the muscles, so I endeavored to find a solution. As I carried this research further, I realized that this method also incorporates the left and right hemispheres of the brain because, for a right-handed person, writing from left to right, utilized the left hemisphere of the brain, which is linear and analytical. Writing from right to left utilizes the right hemisphere of the brain which is spatial. The left hemisphere controls speech, comprehension, arithmetic, and writing. The right hemisphere controls creativity, spatial ability, artistic, and musical skills. To stimulate both hemispheres during writing creates a more balanced and well-developed brain function and a more well-developed human being.”

Eugene Tssui—Bay Area architect—was born in Cleveland, OH, in 1954. Learning directlyfrom architects Bruce Goff and Frei Otto, Tssui developed a philosophy he callsevolutionary architecture, which understands nature as a foundation for all human design.Known for his Ojo del Sol—built for his parents in 1995 in Berkeley, CA, the construction ofwhich was vehemently protested by neighbors who saw the biomorphic design as out ofplace in the suburban context—Tssui is most recognized for his visionary architecturedesign, based upon structures and processes he finds in the natural world.