While for most architects and urban planners, these subnatural
forms are to be avoided or mitigated, Gissen examines those who attempt to "negotiate a rapprochement with subnature" or even actively produce "subnatural
forms and experiences" (Gissen 2009, 22).
In contrast, we might see postwar LA as one of the epicenters of subnatural architecture.
But the subnatural atmosphere of LA could not be ignored for long, and late modernity in Southern Californian architecture was ultimately defined less by the attempts to merge interior and exterior that had characterized so many of the Case Study houses and other postwar icons than by efforts to seal off interiors from their polluted surrounds, as in the work of the so-called Silvers.
This subnatural project was an intellectual one, too: Various writers, historians, and critics--Reyner Ban ham, Peter Plagens, Mike Davis, John Chase, and Kazys Varnelis--aimed to interrogate the more hostile aspects of LA's "nature" as a critical component of its environmental history.
If the Silvers' architecture repressed this deleterious context, subnatural architecture treated the pollution in the air and the industrial wastelands on the ground as material to be assimilated as both form and subject matter.
Conversely, Zago's subnatural drawings admit that nature itself no longer exists in a pastoral state in a place like LA.
By beautifying and even exploiting the grittiness they ostensibly condemned, Mayne and his colleagues never resolved the underlying contradiction of romanticizing subnatural materials, and their work did not coalesce into a coherent architectural response to the socioeconomic forces that so clearly concerned them.
Although these architects seem to have understood the paradoxes of their aesthetic, largely leaving it behind in their more recent work, several contemporary practices have made a marked return to the imagery and ideas of LA's subnatural architecture, often reprising its powerful ability to visualize urban wreckage while remaining aware of the contradictions of doing so.