Biomimetic Architecture: Nature as a Model, Measure and Mentor of Architecture

Biomimetic Architecture: Nature as a Model, Measure and Mentor of Architecture

Biomimetic architecture is a movement that follows the biomimicry principle, first used by Janine Benyus in the book Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature. In her book she suggests that nature must become a model, a measure and a mentor for technological innovations. Biomimetic architecture has a specific goal: to create sustainable solutions in the construction industry through the comprehension of natural shapes present in our surroundings. Thanks to recent advances in material technical elaboration, digital images and different simulation tools that can be used for the development of an architectural project, new possibilities for biomimetic design have emerged.

Biomimetic architecture works in a multidisciplinary way. The study and comprehension of natural surroundings is more than just an aesthetical inspiration: it’s a guide to solve the problems and challenges that a building can face regarding function, adaptability and even energy use. Biomimetic has been applied for several innovative architectural projects, which have provided significant advances in terms of sustainability. Here are some interesting examples.

Esplanade Theatre

This theatre, which was opened in 2002 near Singapore River, imitates the semi-rigid skin and spines of the fruits that grow in the durians. The facade allows sunlight to illuminate during daytime without it overheating the inside of the building.

Eastgate Center 

This architectural complex that hosts a mall and offices was designed by Mick Pearce and was opened in 1996 in Harare, Zimbabwe. The Eastgate Center was probably the first building in the world that used a ventilation and refrigeration system based on natural means. Pearce himself, in his website, states that this building imitates the gigantic monticules that termites build in order to preserve the temperature of the fungi they eat. In the case of this project, the concrete mass heats or cools the wind that enters the building.

30 St Mary Axe

This tower, which was opened in 2004, is one of the most iconic skyscrapers in the United Kingdom. Also known as The Gherkin, this building is 180 m tall. The Gherkin was one of the first environmentally progressist buildings in London: it has a ventilation system similar to the one of sponges and sea anemone. Its cylindrical structure was designed to filter air and create a mixed ventilation system that cooperates with the inside of the building. The exterior of the construction acts as a slow filter for hot air. Its curved shape imitates the mechanism of the anemone’s spicules, propelling the air towards the upper side of the building, thus regulating temperature and reducing the use of air conditioning by 50%.

These initiatives prove there’s lots of things we still have to learn from nature. Have you heard of similar projects? Have you worked with biomimetic architecture? We’d love to know your opinions on this matter!


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