In a corner of the universe, a star is spinning. A star that means everything to us because it is our home. It is a place of exceptional beauty, diversity and exuberant nature, of which we are a part. It must be a temporary mistake for us to go against nature in the pursuit of short-term interests, for how much more rewarding, how much more beautiful it is to do as nature does and strive for perfection. Nothing in nature is out of place, no stone in the wrong position: nature itself, however it appears, is necessarily beautiful.
This beauty draws us in and is where we relax and feel at home. Places that have grown over centuries, old cultural landscapes or Italian hillside villages fill us with joy. We feel at home where everything has its place: in the park, by the lake, in the open countryside. Yet we have designed cities according to the needs of cars and shopping centres according to the scale of maximum profit. We have concreted over entire landscapes ignoring man and his nature. It is time to correct this. Back to nature does not mean sacrifice but profit because the beauty of nature is purposeful, sustainable and therefore economic.
We live in a time where completely different places start to look the same. It’s the same logic which is indiscriminately at work there: the logic of the quick and cheap, of the arbitrary. The result is separation, nature is locked out, the short-term goal is the measure for everything. As a consequence, beauty expires because it is more than the sum of its parts. If you replace one of them carelessly, then the calculation no longer works and we lose our home. We only feel good if everything is right, if the individual elements of our surroundings harmoniously intertwine. We feel good because we are allowed to be human, because our environment complies with us.
Nature and urbanity are only opposites where we have generated them with glass, concrete and asphalt. »The world is a process of our thinking,« wrote Einstein, who added: »It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.« The fact that it can be done differently by thinking differently is shown for example with the Bosco Verticale in Milan, a vertical forest with 900 trees rooted in the facades of two high-rise buildings. It was created by the architect Stefano Boeri with ecological and aesthetic density – decades after Hundertwasser had planted a »tree tenant« on the first floor of a rented flat in Alserbachstrasse in Vienna. The tree grew along the window and amazed passers-by. The visionary later outlined his programme with the phrase: »Roofs must become forests and streets must become green valleys.« Hundertwasser tackled the urban landscape with bright colours and round shapes like exclamation marks. But you need whole sentences to do the same thing with nature because the design vocabulary of nature is extremely complex but not striking. Its beauty unfolds in its structure, rhythm and repetition.
Beauty always involves functionality: nature doesn’t know super-fluousness. Even the splendour of a flower serves a purpose and appears sublimely beautiful because of this: nothing can be left out or added. Besides form, material and appearance, it needs another quality for us to feel something is beautiful: time. Beauty must prove itself. Only something that stands the test of time and lasts decades later is truly beautiful. In order to preserve it, it is necessary to think in cycles and not in short-term trends. Good is what remains, what survives. Beauty is not a short-term effect but only flourishes with sustainability. Something that is sustainable, that holds together, is automatically beautiful. It integrates itself naturally into the respective environment and merges into it. This is why grown structures create well-being and why the permanent brings comfort.
Flora and fauna are the result of an ongoing process of adaptation. Nature is above all practical: anything that doesn’t work or is superfluous is devoured by the weather or evolution. What remains is clarity, endurance and renewal. For thousands of years, man has shaped his world: we have cultivated deserts, created cultural landscapes and preserved habitats worth protecting.
It’s up to us: what we do, undertake or produce must be permanent and still make sense decades from now. This is how the world will remain a beautiful place for us. We have the technical opportunities, resources and knowledge for this. Let’s get started, let’s get on with it!