Fascination and extraordinaire are the only by-products that nature gives us when behaving as an immense source of inspiration! Biomimicry is an innovation method that derives inspiration through the study of natural designs, systems, and processes to resolve human problems. In 1997, Janine Benyus wrote a book and coined the term “Biomimicry”. She says, “life creates conditions conducive to life that’s also the design brief for us.” Biomimicry has overwhelmingly been applied to design; by studying how nature solves problems that we are facing today, as could be extracted and explored appropriateness solutions and new directions for our built environments. Speaking out of the experience and extreme rage the designers and architects around need to make a little shift in the vision. If we, from Pinterest, just switch our eyes to outside our window, we most definitely could use an understanding of a biologist and feel limitless in creating the most appropriate design solutions for the new world.

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Communal survival of ants ©www.sciencenews.org

There is no denying that the human race has speedily done more than enough damage in every possible agenda to our precious mother Earth. An often-overlooked element of biomimicry is nature’s potential to help us understand how to best structure a political movement, individual relationships, and communities. Take, for example, the communal power of ants when in water. They form a foundation of their bodies and the other ants climb on top of them until they create a floating mound to ensure majority survival. The ants reveal that one way in which to survive a drastic weather or ideological shift in government is not to push each other down, instead, cooperative and collective action can lead to the survival of the whole community. We can also zoom in and out to the natural world and learn from the brilliant formation of the fractals. They reveal the natural tendency for repetition from the smallest level of a microbiome up to the universal level of a galaxy.

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Fractals in Nature ©www.thescienceexplorer.com

When you ask how to be better adapted to this planet there are no better models than the species that have preceded us for billions of years. To simplify the understanding of Biomimicry and its application scope, it has been broken down into 3 levels; nature as the

inspiration for the FORM, Mimicry of how the BEHAVIOR OF ORGANISM and mimicry of an ECOSYSTEM.

THE FIRST LEVEL: FORM.

Nature creates a comprehensive picture of rich and varied forms. These forms succeed in withstand the environment and its varied conditions. Her Zog et De Mevron developed the Bird’s Nest Stadium together with the Chinese government. The stadium took this name because the iron bars are like a bird’s nest. Designers of the Bird’s Nest used the simulation technique (CFD) to simulate temperatures, wind power, and humidity inside the structure of birds’ nests, and to allow the audience to enjoy the light.

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Bird’s Nest ©www.tekla.com
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Bird’s Nest ©www.xaharts.org

The success of design:

  • The use of simulation in designing the Bird’s Nest to develop a strong structural system.
  • A unique architectural formation which achieved aesthetic values.
  • Simulating natural ventilation and lighting systems helped to the rationalization of energy. This, in turn, helped in reducing operating costs.
  • Reducing pollution emitted from the building as a result of the rationalization of energy consumption.

THE SECOND LEVEL: BEHAVIOR OF ORGANISM.

There is a great number of organisms facing the same environmental conditions that humans face, but these organisms try to solve their problems within limits of energy and material availability and continue to develop the solutions even with the change of the

challenges of the surrounding environmental conditions. In behavior level Biomimicry, it is not the organism itself that is mimicked, but its behavior. It may be possible to mimic the relationships between organisms or species in a similar way.

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Eastgate centre, Zimbabwe ©www.arch20.com

Perhaps the most famous example of the second level of biomimicry when it comes to heating and cooling is ventilation inspired by termites. A few years ago, scientists observed that big termite mounds in Africa stay remarkably cool inside, even in blistering heat. The insects accomplish that feat with a clever system of air pockets, which drive natural ventilation through convection. Architect Mick Pearce and engineering firm Arup took a cue from nature and borrowed that idea to build Eastgate Centre, a large office and shopping center in Zimbabwe that is cooled with the outside air. The system uses only 10 percent as much energy as conventional air-conditioning to drive fans that keep the air circulating.

THE THIRD LEVEL: ECOSYSTEM.

The mimicking of ecosystems (or eco-mimicry) is an integral part of biomimicry. The advantage of designing at this level of biomimicry is that it can be used in conjunction with other 2 levels of biomimicry, besides the principles of sustainability. This level branches out further into “CIRCULAR ECONOMY”; which is essentially saying there should be no by-product. Hence, ecosystem lessons are really big for us.

California Academy of Sciences museum Green Roof, designed by the Architect Renzo Piano is an undulating green roof that will mimic the sloping lines of the surrounding landscape. The building also is a feat of institutional green building, using some of the most cutting-edge energy efficiency strategies, daylighting, possible biofuels, and water reclamation.

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California Academy of Sciences museum Green Roof ©www.greenroofs.com
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California Academy of Sciences museum Green Roof ©www.pinterest.com

 

The success of design:

  • The roof itself is estimated to prevent approximately two million gallons of rainwater from becoming storm-water runoff.
  • The storage system of ice for cooling, agriculture inclined planes without sliding, took a patent called “bio-tray”.
  • Stations to monitor the changes in air temperature, wind, rain and inform the negative automated system to ventilation.

There’s a lot of getting ideas by looking at what other people have done. Designers have a lot of magazines that they look through and tear those out to put them up on inspiration boards. But they’re looking at other human technologies. The idea is simple! Designers should get in a habit of bringing a biologist to the table and let them help solve problems by mimicking nature. Life has been around on Earth for 3.8 billion years and what designers are starting to realize is that it’s a lot of research and development time. The people who design our world have a lot to learn from the surrounding environment and nature. The end goal for biomimetic design making products, systems, and cities functionally indistinguishable from the natural world.

Architectural Journalist

Rethinking The Future

Tanushree Saluja is constantly inspired by connecting different forms of art and translating into architectural experiences. She strives for the eccentricity that’s interminable in the mind of the receiver. Bringing in fresh perspectives and unique outlook has been the greatest challenge and reward to her creativity.

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