National Park Architecture: Popular Examples Around the World



A national park is a natural park used for the purpose of conservation of forest and wildlife, created and protected by the national government. Often it is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or owns. Although individual nations designate their national parks differently, there is a common idea: the conservation of ‘wild nature’ for posterity and as a symbol of national pride.

It’s A Mix!

Architecture has often taken the form of lodges to blend in with their surroundings in these parks! The rustic architecture, along with landscape architecture, officially emphasized the fact that special attention is to be paid to blend new structures with the landscape.

The National Park “architectural style” is most profound in the United States witnessing the National Park Rustic style development in the early 20th century.

The dwindling Arts and Crafts style was revived by architect Herbert Maier, post WW1, resulting in some scenic parks like the Yosemite National Park and Yellowstone National Park.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, the architectural structures within these parks are a wonderful and harmonious mixture of various architecture styles rendered from local styles and modern materials. National Park of Mali has local stone representing the vernacular material but also sports a stainless steel roof taken from the modern world!

Along with the design aspect, the National Park also serves on the urban scale with a pedestrian network around the park!

There’s More To It Than Just Nature!


Natural features and landscape are the very first thoughts while thinking of a national park! The green, somewhat jungle kinda look, or the natural ponds or wildlife. The hues of nature and the sounds of a forest! And the fireflies! Got a bit carried away with fireflies there, but these thoughts are natural. Fair enough!

fair enough

However, depending upon various factors like the type of national parks or amount of visitors, the necessity of a built environment changes! From roads to observatories, we may need it all!

Many of the building structures in national parks have rough-hewn logs or stones, natural elements inspired by nature. This style is also known as ‘Parkitecture’.

Examples From Around The Globe!

Park Guell National Park, Barcelona

This beautiful public park in Carmel Hill is adorned with gardens and various artistic elements. This park is the brainchild of Antoni Gaudi, built from 1900-1914. The park was built, with the vision of having an organized grouping of high-quality housing.

Shark Valley Tower, Everglade National Park, Florida, USA

Everglades national park was built to protect the southern part of the original everglades. It is the largest tropical forest in the US, visited by about a million visitors each year.

The Shark Valley tower is the point of commencement and the conclusion of a 15 mile long loopy trail built in the year 1946 originally for Humble Oil extract oil from the region which proved to be non-profitable leading to the merging of the land with the national park.

Shark Valley Tower
Image From Wikimedia

The Shark Valley Tower is the beginning (and end) of a 15-mile loop trail through Shark Valley, constructed in 1946 when Humble Oil drilled for oil in the region. The trail was built by digging a trench alongside the elevated road. The trench was filled with water becoming the perfect habitat for wildlife during the winters when the entire land goes dry.

Style Style Baby!

The most common perception of a national park circle around scenic landscapes, magnificent mountains, breezy coastlines, arid deserts, or the lush green forests! What doesn’t occur to us is there’s more to national parks than just Instagram-worthy scenery! There are so many styles and such deep meaning and hidden stories behind these historic buildings existing in these parks! Stories of people who built these, the purpose they were built for, or may simply be inspired a love story!

Most of these tell stories of people who built them or how they were used. Some pose a simple architecture while entering the grand realm of art. Whatever the style maybe, they were all inspired by nature. Let’s look at some of these styles.

Native American Sites

Native Americans were one of the first builders in this vast continent, and the national parks here preserve the grand architecture of their era. Exploring these parks can feel like time travel all the way back to that era and the memories of ancient yet beautiful cultures.

The famous cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado and the pueblos in Chaco Culture National Park acquaint us with the very first shelters.

 Mesa Verde National Park
Image By Wallase Bentt From Unsplash of Mesa Verde National Park


The term ‘Parkitecture’ came into light when the visitors visited the western parks. Massive and beautiful lodges and inns were built matching the wonderful scenery for the visitor’s stay. By using timber and the local stones to blend with the surroundings, these inns and lodges were converted into adventurer’s castles!

Examples Of Parkitectue

The Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

The Old Faithful Inn is located in Yellowstone National Park, United States, with a view of the Old Faithful Geyser. The Inn has a multi-story log lobby, flanked by long frame wings containing guest rooms. The inn was built in the year 1904. .0the inn has proved to be an example of rustic resort architecture from the golden age!

The inn was designed by Ar. Robert reamer. He designed the lobby and the first phase of the guest rooms. The east and the west wings were extended later, creating a single structure almost 700 feet long. The old house had been oriented at 90 degrees to provide a view of the beautiful geyser from the front porch. The main façade looks over Geyser Hill across the Firehole River.

The architectural structure of the Old Faithful Inn still refuges many of its original features, like the etched glass panels, stone fireplace, timber columns, hickory furniture, and an antique, handcrafted clock made of copper, wood, and wrought iron.

Old Faithful Inn
Image From Wikipedia

El Towar Hotel, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

The hotel was designed by the Chicago Architect Charles Whittlesey. The hotel was built majorly of local limestone and pine while the roof has shingles. The hotel is of variable height, with a two-story central portion, a north wing three stories tall, and a four-story south wing, the result of sloping land. According to the design of the hotel, the north wing faces the canyon while the south wing, of course, faces away from the canyon and is a semi-octagonal space known as the ‘grotto’.

America’s Front Yard

Each memorial at the National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington D.C. narrates an important story of the history of all the buildings and structures in the park. The Jefferson Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial replicate ancient temples.

America’s Front Yard
Image By Sean Pavone From Istock

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