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biomimicry architecture

Concept of Biomimicry in Design and Architecture 

According to Feuerstein and Fred Otto biology and architecture are prerequi- sites of each other. Bioinspiration in architecture is understood as a practical methodology for answering the stakes of designs of forms and energy-efficient structures at the urban scale using natural materials. Biomimetic architecture aims to measure and shape space and to create synergistic relations between the environment and the structure.

The adaptability of nature toward different environmental changes has been well reported in the literature. This adaptability of nature has inspired several designers to create highly resilient and environmentally sustainable built environments. This inspiration from nature has evolved in two ways in the context of design and architecture: direct and indirect approaches. Scholars have comprehensively studied the features and characteristics of each approach in the work of well-known architects and designers.

The direct design approach occurs when a design directly copies an organism in the ecosystem and mimics its behavioral pattern or natural system. Whereas, the indirect approach solely uses abstract concepts in nature and employs them in design. The direct design approach has two derivations with two diverse schools of thought and methods. The first approach understands the design problems based on a ‘design exploring biology’ concept, and the second approach explores the design issues from a ‘biology investigating design’ perspective. The latter consists of identifying the human needs or design issues through understanding the processes that the ecosystems utilize to overcome such challenges.

In architecture, Biomimicry is also known for its problem-driven or solution-driven approach to architectural design issues. In this approach, the designer explores solutions to address the problems through biology, whereas in the solution-driven approach biology is used as a solution to copy and then transfer to design systems.

Biomimicry inspires architecture in three ways; organism (imitation of nature), behavior (imitation of natural processes), and ecosystem levels (imitation of the working principles of ecosystems). At the organism level, design and architecture are mainly in- spired by the form, shape, or structure of a building. At the behavioral level, the interaction between the ecosystem and its surroundings inspires the design. At the ecosystem level, the main focus is on how different parts of an organism interact on a large (urban) scale.

biomimicry norman foster

These levels have been thoroughly explained by Benyus through an example of an owl’s feather. A feather can be renewed by its formal attributes. However, this replication cannot be considered a resilient and sustainable solution. When the process is mimicked, identifying how the feather is produced without using toxic waste or a high level of energy consumption is feasible—realizing that how it impacts body heat and energy conservation and thereby achieves the properties of the feather is possible. At the ecosystem level, the existence of the bird and its feather with a larger biosphere and the entire organism is studied.

Each of these levels offers five potential dimensions to biomimicry: (1) how the design mimics the look and form of an ecosystem, (2) how it mimics the material of an ecosystem, (3) how it mimics the way that the ecosystem is being constructed, (4) how the ecosystem works (process) and (5) what the ecosystem is capable of doing (function). These levels are often used as benchmarks for architects to employ bio-mimicry principles in design and architecture approaches and create sustainable, efficient, and environmentally sound buildings.

In some architecture and design concepts, most projects are inspired by the form and behavior of certain animals (animals in the ocean or on the earth) that have adaptive approaches towards the outside world (e.g., sun and wind). In other architectural projects, the source of inspiration is plants that react differently towards extreme climatic conditions (drought, heat, and light).

biomimicry architecture

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