Words and Photography By Archt Hiranthi Pathirana (Department of Architecture, University of Moratuwa)

It should be noted that the understanding of nature comes to the mind slowly with careful analysis and discipline through contemplation, philosophising, remembering and reasoning. Learning to see and understand nature comes only after a careful and enthusiastic search for her minute and apparently insignificant productions. Studies thus made when translated in terms of design principles, concepts and mathematics suggest endless ideas and unfolding of natural laws.

What nature seems to offer us is a large mass of liveliness that contains living processes and mechanisms, forms and structures, pictures and patterns, that is subjected to a forever changing process on mother earth. The things that are happening in nature seems to be always true, its principles are right and forever seem to secure the life on earth. What nature offers for us, for learning seems to run in to timeless and limitless phases. Therefore, the simple things that are available in nature, can give us new experience and insight. A systematic study of certain areas can unravel limitless possibilities and learning outcomes.

This paper discusses about certain carefully made observations on sea shells. An attempt is made to draw and identify certain fundamental principles that have adapted by nature, which is relevant for Art and Architecture. In the processes of careful observations we can make an attempt to follow some of these processes and make a learning study from them. Following examples are presented in an organised conceptual format to understand the underlying principles of design, particularly relevant for creative exercises.

Introduction to Sea Shells

Similar to the patterns that occur in the sea, the sea shells mark such variety that are reflected in their forms, crevices, lines drawn into infinity, creases, curves and holes that create shadows and mystery within them. Sea shells can be identified as a unique collection of nature that offers limitless pathways to find the natural orders in them. The study focuses on identifying the particular types of shells that are existing in the beaches of Sri Lanka. They are studied to draw and understand the underlying principles behind, along with the units of expressions, volume or the three dimensions in design. The colour patches of such a nature on sea shells along with the form and line configurations, that are created on their surfaces have been identified in the search for the inspiration in design.

Principles of Structure and Form

It is interesting to observe that, various different sea shells that consist of flat near triangular simple forms to complex spirals are found. The structures generally vary from flat, parallel to the ground surfaces to built up structures with complex forms. These structures offer a great deal of principles that can be used in creative exercises.

The type and variations of Sea Shells found from Sri Lanka: Sea urchin, Cowry shells, Olive shells, Whelks, Moon nautical

The type and variations of Sea Shells found from Sri Lanka: Sea urchin, Cowry shells, Olive shells, Whelks, Moon nautical

Different forms and shapes of shells

Cross sectional angles

Different textures of shells