Biomimicry in architecture: Benefitting from Nature

Nature has been the main source of inspiration for years when it comes to developing cities and buildings.

“Nothing is art if it does not come from nature.”

– Antoni Gaudi

Biomimicry also known as Biomimetics is one of the methods of solving everyday problems by learning from the strategies in nature.

Biomimicry in architecture is a sustainable approach that not only uses nature as inspiration for aesthetics but it involves deeply understanding the principles found in the natural environment and species to apply them in the construction field. Nature has the solution to many things and applying the same solutions to our buildings can make a better environment for us to live in.

Biomimetic architecture is generally confused with biophilic architecture because of the similarities they share. The way they sound, how they came out of the environmental movements and their connection to nature often mixes up both the terms. But they hold two very different concepts with different aims. 

Difference between biomimicry and biophilic architecture

Biomimicry as the name suggests mimics nature, it is an innovation-based approach for better performance. This approach focuses on learning from nature and using scientific ways and techniques for innovations in the design industry.  

On the other hand, biophilia is more about connecting humans with nature for their better well-being. In this approach, the elements are extracted from nature and directly applied in interiors and architecture. 

Biomimicry in architecture has gained much attention in recent years but the first example hails from way back in history. 

Italian architect Filippo Brunelleschi, after studying the strength of eggshells, came out with a very innovative design of a lighter dome for his cathedral. The example gives a clear idea of how Biomimicry in architecture works. 

Some marvellous biomimicry examples in architecture that has changed the picture of designing building over the years-

1. Quadracci Pavilion, Wisconsin-
The iconic pavilion is the extension to Milwaukee Art Museum. The architect of this pavilion took inspiration from the nearby lake, sailboats, and the birds. The white structure resembles a large ship as if it’s about to sail. It also consists of sunscreen shading the reception area having opening and closing movement inspired from the wings of a bird.

Flying Bird
Photo by Tim Mossholder from Pexels
Sunscreen inspired from the wings of a flying bird
By PeterSesar – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46973113

2. Eiffel Tower, Paris-
One of the most popular structures, famous among all age groups, but do we know that it was inspired by femur? i.e., the thigh bone. Yes, the structure of the Eiffel tower that helps in withstanding wind and provides stability is very similar to how our thigh bone works. 

Cut section of thigh bone
The structure of Eiffel Tower inspired from thigh bone.

3. The Algae House-
This extraordinary structure in Germany is entirely powered by algae. The façade of this building incorporates microalgae in its transparent surface making it visible from interiors as well as exteriors. Algae produce heat by the process of photosynthesis when comes in contact with the sun. Inspired by plants, this building creates energy in a very unique way.

4. Helix Bridge, Singapore-
This bridge is inspired by the geometric arrangement of DNA molecules. It is said to be World’s first double-helix structure. The entire bridge s encircled by stainless steel pipes and looks like a very complicated structure n the first glance.

DNA molecules
Image by Mahmoud Ahmed from Pixabay
Double-helix bridge inspired from DNA molecules
Image by 7928723 from Pixabay

5. Esplande Theatre, Singapore-
The design of this theatre is inspired by durian fruit that protects its seed with the hard thorny skin. The façade of this theatre mimics the skin of durian fruit and consists of triangular aluminum louvers acting as a responsive shading system. They adjust to the sun’s position and angle preventing the interiors from overheating while creating dramatic shadow patterns at the same time.

Durian Fruit
Image by truthseeker08 from Pixabay
Building’s façade inspired from the skin of durian plant
By Basile Morin – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=71047823

Nature is the best source of learning and can be used for some great innovations. These successful examples explain how biomimicry can be applied to buildings.

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