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Evolution. What a vast concept. It’s hard to even fathom all the faces the “human” has worn. And whats more, where we came from. I am a believer that all we are is star dust combined with an infinite amount of chemical reactions and mating cycles…so I guess that would consider me a bit of a Darwinist. Charles Darwin was an evolutionary biologist who stated that all species of organisms arise and develop through the natural selection of small, inherited variations that increase the individual’s ability to compete, survive, and reproduce. Which brings me to the topic of this blog post: Biomimicry. 

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Biomimetics is something that fascinates me, and recently I have written two different papers on it. One was its application into the Interior Design industry and the other was the history of it and it’s application into architecture. So with that said, I’d love to inform you about it here.

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Biomimetics is also referred to as biomimicry and bioinspiration. To start with, bio means “life” and mimesis means “to imitate”. The Biomimicry Institute‘s definition is: a new discipline that studies nature’s best ideas and then imitates these designs and processes to solve human problems. The Wikipedia definition is a tad more scientific, surprisingly: the design and production of materials, structures, and systems that are modeled on biological entities and processes. So basically taking a look at the nanomolecular structure of nature’s most time-tested and successful processes and mimicking them into human designs, be it architecture, materials, systems, products, etc.

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To give a few examples… We look to leaves to show us how to develop solar cells, we study the composition of the grid on a moth’s eye for better light absorption by solar panels, we look to Arctic Poppies to show us how we can make solar panels move with the sun throughout the day and even how we can build houses that rotate with the sun’s pattern.

24 Heliotrope house_final 3000077-poster-640-heliotrop-1Heliotrope House designed by Architect Rolf Disch, in Germany. See article: Heliotrope House via Fast Company

rotating-green-dome-designAnother example of a helitropic house by distributor Solaleya. See video via YouTube

When considering architecture and the ability to self-regulate temperature we can examine how termites, the architects of nature, construct their mounds in order to be a close-looped system where the interior remains at a constant temperature while enabling them to harvest their food (fungi). Pictured below is the comparison of the Eastgate Centre in Zimbabwe designed by architect Mike Pearce and engineers Arup Associates, and a termite mound. See article: Eastgate Centre via Inhabitat

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Another example I see as extremely beneficial in the application of medical facilities is a shark’s skin. A shark’s skin is composed of dermal denticles with longitudinal grooves that not only allow a shark to be swift but ensuring biofoul, like barnacles and algae, not be able to attach themselves to the shark’s surface. This concept can be translated into antimicrobial paints for hospital walls, ship hulls (lessening drag, increasing oil efficiency, lessening global impact), as well as creating more efficient water suits for humans.

Shark SkinAnd the list goes on. I am so excited to see what the future holds for such a promising discipline. Being able to apply such efficient natural engineering into the built environment can only help mankind become more synergistic with the planet’s cycle, ensuring that we create sustainable habitats that lessen our footprint on this beautiful place we call Earth.

Here are two great TEDtalk videos that go more into depth about Biomimicry:

Janine Benyus

Michael Pawlyn

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