In the motion picture of the universe featuring nature and architecture as lead roles, we contrived the term Biomimicry, where Bio stands for nature and mimicry is to mimic or replicate. Biomimicry architecture is the multidisciplinary approach for translating nature into architecture. It is beyond the talk of inspiring designs from nature to relish their aesthetics, but to understand the specific and adaptive natural processes used by nature to ensure their resilience and apply them in architectural construction and design. Nature reacts to threats and sustains naturally and by instincts. But the question is, why can’t humans apply those principles? For this, Prof. Anil Laul quotes in his book ‘Green is Red’, that Sustainability is common sense, not a thing to learn.

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Amalgamation of architecture and nature_©www.unsplash.com

Here in this article, I will quote a few famous examples of Biomimicry in Architecture.

1. Lotus Temple, India

Apart from the holy gesture of The Baha’i Community by uniting people of all religions under one roof for worship, the structure of the Lotus temple itself is an extravagant celebration of nature replication and its success. Every element of the Lotus temple justifies symmetry and balance similar to a lotus flower with 27 free-standing petals with marble cladding arranged in clusters of three to create inner sides. A sense of rhythm is designed by placing a cluster of 3 petals and a pond repeated on all sides. The initial petals with approximately 4 m of height act as an intimidating human scale entrance to the overall monumental inner core where the outer covering has the inner hall and the inner petals house the main prayer hall. With a capacity of 1200 at a time, the inner prayer hall also incorporates passive cooling systems for sustainable functioning. 

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Lotus Temple_©www.worldblaze.in
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Formation of Temple with Petals_©www.architecturever.com

2. The Helix Bridge, Singapore

The bridge sits over the Bayfront of Marina Bay City in Singapore, designed as a delicacy to cater the pedestrian access inspired by the multidimensional structure of human DNA holding a considerable place in the list of designs in Biomimicry architecture. The Helix bridge is by Architect 61, conceptualized as the delicate structure of DNA and replicated with stainless steel structure to introduce a light design other than the vehicular bridges.

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The Helix Bridge_©www.archestudy.com
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The Helix Bridge_©www.archestudy.com
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The Helix Bridge_©www.archestudy.com

3. Elytra Filament Pavilion, London

The elytra filament pavilion is in London, successfully gracing the surroundings in Victoria and Albert Museum. The pavilion is an example of aesthetics and dynamic spatial qualities of structural engineering, architectural design, and environmental principles coming together to unfold this one of its kind cellular canopy-like structure. The design inspiration is from the effectiveness and resourcefulness of nature and how biological fiber systems can be used in architecture. The transparent and adaptive canopy installation is similar to the lightweight fibrous structure of forewing shells of flying beetles known as Elytra, composed of 40 cells shaped hexagonal influenced by environmental and technological manipulations.

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Elytra Filament Pavilion_©NAARO
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Elytra Filament Pavilion_©NAARO
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Elytra Filament Pavilion_©NAARO

4. Sinosteel International, China

The Sinosteel International Plaza, designed by MAD Architects was initially a challenge to introduce a lightweight structure for building facade to be constructed with minimum material wastage and passive regulation to resist heat but allow light to get in. The hexagonal facade of the building is inspired by the biological principles of Honeycomb and its lightweight logistics. Honey Bees construct their hexagonal nest structure out of wax to make a resilient living. A similar strategy is adopted in the plaza to regulate temperature by varying window sizes arranged in irregular, naturally occurring patterns like multiplication of cells, generating life in buildings by the changing dynamics from different perspectives. The random appearing facade pattern is the strategic placement of varying sizes of openings considering the solar direction and airflow across the site to minimize heat loss and gain in winters and summers respectively. The design is a combination of biological features and a futuristic design approach.

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Sinosteel International, Tianjin, China_©World Architecture Festival
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Sinosteel International, Tianjin, China_©World Architecture Festival
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Sinosteel International, Tianjin, China_©World Architecture Festival

5. BIQ Building, Germany

BIQ stands for bio-clever quotient, that is BIQ Building which sets the mark for bioreactor facade in the architecture realm. The building has an integrated algae-based system of photobioreactors to generate biomass and heat as renewable energy resources. The interiors of the building are concrete cells with the facade which bring nature inside and embodies it as well. The facade system with microalgae is cultivated in flat glass panels of bioreactors to generate heat with additional benefits of dynamic shading, noise barrier, and thermal insulation. The building is initiated as an example of natural products in the construction industry to eliminate building issues and elevate its overall performance with the regenerative approach.

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BIQ Building _©www.inhabitat.com
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Flat algea glass system _©Colt International, Arup Deutschland, SSC GmbH
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Dynamic Facade_©Colt International, Arup Deutschland, SSC GmbH
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Solar leaf building_©Colt International, Arup Deutschland, SSC GmbH

6. The Seed Cathedral

The winning project of the Shanghai World Expo 2010, the Seed cathedral designed by Heatherwick Studios in collaboration with the Royal Botanic Gardens, complements the fragmented nature of weather conceived in architectural design. The structure holds a concept of remembrance as the key, to draw their attention that people only remember simple things related to objects adaptive to their surroundings and environment. With seeds encased in the fiber optic rods supported with metal rods inside the wood frame base of the structure to justify the transparent and dynamic nature of nature. In the daytime, the cluster of almost 60,000 slender fiber optic rods each 7.5m in length, helps draw light in the interiors whereas at night time the light source inside each rod illuminates the structure and its surroundings. This panoramic therapy of design moves and breathes with every wind flow and surrenders to its surroundings that it’s a smaller unit of it. 

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The Seed Cathedral_©Frank Kaltenbach, Munich
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The Seed Cathedral_©Frank Kaltenbach, Munich
Interiors of The Seed Cathedral_©Frank Kaltenbach, Munich

References: 

  1. Anon., 2008. dezeen. [Online]

Available at: https://www.dezeen.com/2008/07/30/sinosteel-international-plaza-by-mad/

[Accessed 03 2022].

  1. Anon., n.d. [Online]

Available at: https://architecturever.com/2019/04/07/lotus-temple-new-delhi-its-bio-mimetic-history-biomimicry/

[Accessed 03 2022].

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Available at: https://issuu.com/sahilvirmani07/docs/biomimicry

[Accessed 03 2022].

  1. Anon., n.d. Architonic. [Online]

Available at: https://www.architonic.com/en/project/arup-biq-house/5101636

[Accessed 03 2022].

  1. Anon., n.d. DIVISARE. [Online]

Available at: https://divisare.com/projects/319009-achim-menges-naaro-elytra-filament-pavilion

[Accessed 03 2022].

  1. Ansari, K., 2020. Archestudy. [Online]

Available at: https://archestudy.com/10-examples-of-amalgamation-of-nature-and-architecture/

[Accessed 03 2022].

  1. Hiran, P., n.d. re-thinkingthefuture. [Online]

Available at: https://www.re-thinkingthefuture.com/case-studies/a4020-helix-bridge-by-architects-61-inspired-by-dna/

[Accessed 03 2022].

  1. Jordana, S., 2010. Archdaily. [Online]

Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/58591/uk-pavilion-for-shanghai-world-expo-2010-heatherwick-studio

[Accessed 03 2022].

Author

Rahat Khanna is an architectural student by profession & a serendipitous explorer by a person. She accompanies architecture and writings as a medium to research, evaluate, analyze and contemplate minute details in architectural reign for sustainably intelligent solutions. Her passion for words came from reading books and made her resourceful.

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