A hundred years ago, Louis Sullivan proclaimed that "form follows function." Based on a deeper understanding of how our forms and fate are shaped by ecologically interconnected flows of energy, information, materials and resources, a better dictum for today might be "form follows flow."

Ecological design proposes a marriage of nature and technology, using ecology as the basis for design. The strategies of conservation, regeneration, and stewardship can be applied at all levels of scale to produce revolutionary forms of buildings, landscapes, communities, cities and applied technologies.

The Ecological Design Institute and Van der Ryn Architects create innovative design solutions that link nature, culture and technology to reintegrate the needs of human society within the balance of nature.

We design places
where nature
is the foreground and
cannot be overpowered
by our temporary creations.

We use geometry not only
to organize space and to mark
the social interactions within,
but also to resonate with landscape.

The building is not a fixed object
but part of the larger pattern
that flows with change -
a permeable living membrane
responding to changes
in use and place.

We use natural materials
native to a place - earth, stone,
trees - as well as advanced technology
and scientific intelligence.

Architecture is part of the process
of "remembering," putting back
together our collective dreams.
We design places for learning,
healing, reflection, coming together.

Design should tell a story
about place and people -
and be a pathway to understanding
ourselves within nature.

Sim Van der Ryn

to lower environmental costs
and lift spirits
At EDI, we believe that the natural world and the humanly designed world can be reintegrated by taking ecology as the basis for design. Working together with Founder Sim Van der Ryn, we are a multidisciplinary team of architects, designers, engineers, community planners and educators offering the following services:
  • Green architecture and building systems
  • Sustainable community planning
  • Education and training programs
  • Sustainable technologies research
  • Publications

If you have any comments about this site,
or questions about EDI/Van der Ryn Architects, please contact us at [email protected].