Biomimicry is a branch of Biomimetic architecture defined and popularised by Janine Benyus in her book- Biomimicry Innovation Inspired by Nature. Biomimicry refers to innovations influenced by nature as one which studies nature and then imitates or takes inspiration from its designs and processes for problem-solving. The American physicist and inventor Otto Schmitt coined “biomimetics” in the 1950s. But mankind has been monitoring nature and making miracles from it long before. For instance, the Wright brothers were inspired by the flight of birds, which resulted in the development of aeroplanes.
How Biomimicry Has Shaped Our Buildings
Many obstacles to biomimicry, such as climate change, waste from building and demolition projects, resource depletion, and others, have prompted people to look to nature for solutions. Biomimicry has greatly affected building design, from construction materials to structures’ geometry. New materials have also been influenced by biomimicry, such as self-healing concrete that takes cues from how bones regenerate and light-filtering glass based on butterfly wing design. Generally, designers have created more sustainable and effective buildings by taking inspiration from the natural world thanks to biomimicry. They can design structures that are more ecologically friendly, durable, and adaptive to changing situations by taking natural cures.
Ways Architects Can Make Biomimicry a Reality
Although the terms “biomimicry” and “biophilia” are not new, many architects and designers are unsure of how to identify or distinguish between them. These are three ways that architects can contribute to the execution of this idea.
Bring Nature into Every Project
There are several ways to incorporate natural shapes into a structure, such as modelling columns after trees or utilising botanical themes in textiles and wall coverings. The biophilic design was a significant component of the strategy used by architecture and design firm Gensler to promote employee happiness, health, and productivity in Etsy’s 198,635-square-foot headquarters in Brooklyn, New York. To mimic the irregularity seen in nature, the team used as few straight walls and right angles as possible and commissioned artwork with a plant theme. One easy method to start incorporating nature into projects is to thoroughly research each site’s distinctive characteristics, such as the topography, the sun’s path, the climate, and the local flora and animals. The architecture can then emphasise some of these components.
Become a Biomimicry Advocate
Architects can design structures that work in harmony with natural processes, such as the atmosphere of the planet and the human body, by understanding how nature solves problems. Exploration Architecture, a British company, has prioritised translating the lessons of nature into built form. It suggested using the geometry of a mollusc shell to model an undulating roof structure for the Abalone House project to reduce the quantity of material needed by half. Only some businesses have the tools or knowledge to start designing roofs with mollusc influences immediately.
Seek Out Bio-Based Materials
Designers can now specify natural materials like cross-laminated wood and insulation made of soy and hemp in addition to more well-known alternatives. Designers are especially enthusiastic about bio-based materials like the BioMASON bricks, which can be created to fulfil specific needs and then grown like crops instead of being manufactured using energy-intensive industrial procedures.
Levels of Biomimicry
Organism Level – Mimicking a form or a shape from nature
For instance, the flexible outer construction of creatures like the pangolin inspired the design of the St. Pancras International Station. The organisation of a “scaled” outside facade allows for these changes since the design considers the fluctuating pressures and shifting forces that happen as trains enter and exit the station.
Behavioural Level – Mimicking a process carried out by nature
The CH2 Building in Melbourne, Australia, serves as an architectural illustration of biomimicry at the behavioural level. The concept for this structure was drawn from termite mounds, which use passive ventilation and temperature control to maintain a comfortable internal temperature. Similar to how some termite species use the closeness of aquifer water as an evaporative cooling mechanism, water that is mined (and cleaned) from the sewers beneath the CH2 Building is used in this way.
Ecosystem Level – Mimicking a material and how it performs or mimicking natural ecosystems
You can combine this degree of biomimicry with other levels of biomimicry (organism and behaviour). Additionally, it is feasible to use sustainable construction techniques that are not technically biomimetic, including interfaced or bio-assisted systems, which combine human and non-human systems for the advantage of both.
Example of Biomimicry in Architecture
Algae House (BIQ House), Hamburg
The future of self-sustaining green buildings is the world’s first algae-powered structure, located in Germany. For the windows of this house, freshwater algae are used. The BIQ house uses “Bioreactors” made of freshwater algae to help produce biomass that can be harvested and converted into biogas. Algae that develop in sunlight are used in bioreactors to produce biomass, which is then converted into biogas and energy. In addition to being a source of energy, the green façade also shades the entire building. The BIQ home is a cutting-edge, sustainable, and effective energy generation method.
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- Wikipedia Contributors (2020). Biomimetic architecture. [online] Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biomimetic_architecture.