The history of the built environment could be broadly defined as a battle against nature: barricading cities and coasts with sea walls, expanding over wetlands and green terrain, dividing migration routes with motorways. Tremendous effort has gone into the long war against the natural world.

Yet as sea levels rise and the severity of floods, droughts, and a changing climate increase — while species and habitats decrease — efforts to conquer nature have proven to be futile at best and destructive acts of ego at worst.

About NatureStructure

NatureStructure represents an end to the battle against nature. Instead of combating the natural world, NatureStructure embraces nature and natural processes as integral parts of the built environment and advocates designing and developing in collaboration with natural systems. Norwegians have a phrase for it: “To play on the same team as nature.” The Dutch call it “Building with nature.”


Curated by Urban Strategist Scott Burnham, NatureStructure provides a framework for a new generation of nature-centric design and development; work created to support and employ nature in addressing the problems human development has created for itself.

The NatureStructure exhibition premiered at the Boston Society of Architects, in 2018, featuring a vast array of international projects that weave built projects with nature and natural functions to enable cities and regions to function as living systems.

The works on display included the first US appearance of the Delfland Sand Motor, a feat of engineering that uses coastal tides to distribute sand along the coast of the Netherlands to reverse erosion and protect against sea level rise; Pop-Up, a revolutionary parking garage by Denmark’s Third Nature that rises in the city scape as its base absorbs rainwater overflow; and 3D printed reefs and seawalls by Australia’s Reef Design Lab to repopulate Sydney Harbor sea life and counter the depletion of reefs in the world’s oceans.