Biomimicry in the Built Environment

I recently stumbled upon (in the interweb sense) this video by Michael Pawlyn, an architect that concentrates on sustainable architecture, discussing the topic of Biomicmicry and its uses in Architecture. I have never really heard of Biomimicry before, but as I watched the video I became very intrigued by the prospect. Using nature as a source of inspiration for technological advancements seemed quite logical (after all, nature knows best) and surprisingly mind-blowing. For those of you who do not know what Biomimicry is, it is researching how certain living organisms function and adapt under environments and translating those ideas into mechanical and design products. It is, as described at the Biomimicry Institute, “innovation inspired by nature.” Examples include engineers trying to develop a ”net-less” fish capturing device that emulates certain whale’s food harvesting techniques of utilizing air bubbles to trap fish, architects designing roofs to capture moisture in the same way certain desert beetles collect their water, and researchers studying how ants and bees react in certain situations to apply the same findings to more efficient disaster response.

The concept is really intriguing to me and I truly wish to learn more. I believe that nature truly is the best teacher in many situations and learning from how organisms have adapted will help humanity adapt to different situations. It requires a different mindset to technology in progress in that we as humans are not trying to make nature better, we instead see nature as the best system out there – with stable ecosystems and resource uses – and wish to emulate nature in the most respectful way. It is a humbling perspective to realize that humans are not in control of our environment. Despite all the ways we try to tame the wild, natural disasters still leave us in a mix of horror and awe.  As the future progresses, especially towards sustainable principles, I believe that biomimicry can help in technological advances. It also emphasizes interdisciplinary collaboration, combining traditional technical disciples with Biological Sciences, an idea that I am very fond of. There is still much to the natural world that we do not know and I think biomimicry will allow humans to one day live in a symbiotic relationship with our environment by understanding how other animals have developed their relationship with the Earth.

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