This week, I want to start with a design in Nature that is ubiquitous, among things animate and inanimate. When the Original Designer finds a scheme that is simple, elegant, and effective, He tends to employ that design across species and materials. That Original Design is “branching”. This is the scheme used in the bodies of most living things, from the smallest insect to the largest trees. The blood vessels in your own body start with the largest vessels, like the Carotid Artery and the Vena Cava in the trunk, and branching out to the capillaries in your extremities. This design is also found everywhere in Nature, and here are some examples I have found.
This big Douglas Fir tree shows the main trunk, and the smaller branches. Each branch also has smaller branches growing from it. The fronds on the branches maximize the amount of life-giving sunlight the tree can get. This is a very efficient, and beautiful design.
The leafless Japanese Maple tree in my yard shows the intricate network of its branches, starting from the main trunk and getting smaller toward the tips. Here’s the same tree with leaves on it.
You can see that even the leaves exhibit the same branching scheme, with larger branches toward the center, getting smaller toward the tips of the long, slender leaves. You can also see the branching scheme in this Hydrangea leaf from my yard.
For that matter, your body, and that of most animals, is build on that same branching plan, with the trunk, then arms and legs, then fingers and toes. On the inanimate side, rivers exhibit the branching plan, with creeks and tiny channels branching off the main river.
You can see the Colorado River as it snakes through the Southwest, with its main channel and tiny branches.
I am always on the lookout for pleasing designs created by my fellow men. Examples big and small are all around us. In the past, building designers used a lot of ornamentation on their structures. On the campus of the University of Cambridge in England, designers went out of their way to decorate their buildings.
I think the builders of the various colleges tried to one-up each other on decoration and ornamentation. They also honored the founders and benefactors of their college. Kings and nobles often endowed colleges, to make sure they went to Heaven. Many of the original Cambridge colleges were endowed and supported by religious orders, and nobles contributed to those colleges to improve their standing with God. Trinity Hall College, where I stayed in 1991 while studying Medieval English Society, was started to train canon lawyers.
In my travels, I have often visited old or historic churches, because they tend to have very beautiful architecture and structural details. In my 1996 trip to Vienna with the Everett Symphony, we saw a number of beautiful churches. One of them was right near our hotel. This is the VotivKirche.
It is about as Gothic as you can get, flying buttresses and all. And when you go inside, the stained-glass windows, and altar, are equally impressive.
And, in downtown Seattle, some early 20th Century design.
Here’s a link to Patti’s Original Post.
3 thoughts on “Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #174: Shapes and Designs”
Hi, RB. I love your thoughts on branching and how you wove it through the post. Your photos are great examples of nature’s designs and humankind’s.
Thanks, Patti. I consider that high praise!
Love your idea of seeing the body, river, and trees on the whole and also in parts branching in different shapes and sizes. Lovely and interesting post.