Biomimetic architecture: lessons from nature
What is biomimetic architecture
To explain the term biomimetic architecture, it’s best to start by talking about biomimicry.
Biomimicry, imitating natural models
Biomimicry is technology based on nature. A technology that allows finding sustainability solutions, based on energy efficiency models present in the natural world.
There are countless examples of efficiency in nature: in beehives, in coniferous cones, in ferns…
Let’s talk briefly, for example, about the case of coniferous pine cones, which have recently inspired a very promising biomimetic model in architecture. They open or close depending on the environmental humidity. A perfect balance between lignin and cellulose causes their fibers to contract or expand in the presence of moisture. Thus, the pine cones change shape to adapt to the climate and drop their seeds.
This process of natural thermoregulation is certainly worth imitating. And that is precisely what the company hypermembrane has set out to do. By replicating the pineapple model they seek to create adaptive buildings that respond to the climate.
A challenge that has already received support from the European Union and that we expect to have a great future.
Biomimetic architecture, beyond the form
Biomimetic architecture therefore goes beyond form. Applying natural models that are efficient, sustainable and improve our quality of life is its main objective. It is not about aesthetic canons but about functionality and integral application to projects.
Features of biomimetic architecture
Some of the main features of biomimicry in architecture are:
- Understanding and application of natural standards in projects globally
- Search for energy efficiency
- Sustainability and reduction of the environmental impact of buildings
- Transformation through technological innovation of buildings into living organisms that meet the standard
- Bring nature and humans together to create better societies
Materials in biomimetic architecture
In line with the interest in replicating the natural and, therefore, with the preservation of the environment, architectural biomimicry seeks the use of materials that generate slight impact on nature.
Materials that have a low carbon footprint in their production processes will be the preferred materials in a biomimetic system.
Also, in this regard, biomaterials are gaining popularity. These allow the creation of new sustainable raw materials, through the manipulation of microorganisms. Water- and moisture-repellent paints, felt, cork, xanite…
Sustainable architecture vs biomimetic architecture
Models such as the passivhaus and others that seek sustainability in the construction of projects are integrated within the global one that would be biomimicry.
Sustainability and biomimicry in architecture, therefore, are not the same but cannot exist one without the other. Sustainability is part of the progress towards biomimicry, as a model for the future and global application.
Biomimicry, on the other hand, is the reconciliation of man with the natural world and the integration of that environmental concern into every part of the process and outcome of a project. Observing how nature acts and adapting as much as possible to its parameters in our modus operandi is biomimicry.
Examples of biomimicry in architecture
In its beginnings, biomimetic architecture was almost entirely limited to replicating aesthetic aspects of nature. Today, thanks to technical innovations and technology, models of biomimicry in architecture are advancing by leaps and bounds.
Below we show you different examples of biomimetic architecture that are being developed in the world:
- Façade inspired by conifer pine cones
Pilot facade of Hypermembrane in Catalonia, Spain.
The technology mentioned above that mimics coniferous pine cones has already been installed in a pilot project in Spain. The forecast is that in the future, and thanks to nanotechnology, this façade will give a life of its own to these facilities.
- Adaptive building replicating butterfly wings
The Milwaukee Art Museum serves to exemplify this more aesthetic than functional imitation of early biomimetic projects. Its wings open and close reminiscent of those of a butterfly and show us how a reactive building works.
- Anemone-inspired ventilation
The ventilation system of the Gherkin building replicates that employed by sea sponges and anemones. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it
- Living algae walls that modulate light
And finally, the BIQ building (Bio Intelligent Quotient ) or algae house is a living building. Its living algae panels regulate the entry of light following its natural life cycle. The algae are found in smaller quantities in winter, allowing the greatest possible passage of light while in summer they reproduce, providing greater opacity.
And the most incredible thing is that when the algae die they are used to generate green energy that supplies the building with a very important saving of resources. Fascinating!
Biomimetic architecture: the trend of the future
The sustainable architecture is just a first approximation to the ultimate goal of a global biomimetic architecture.
Although some models propose aesthetic adaptations or some partial improvements in efficiency, biomimicry must be understood in a global way, as a new way of understanding our way of building.
Architectural biomimicry will be the trend of the future and will be developed involving materials, methods, efficiency, sustainability… but, above all, people.
The architecture of the future will remind us of our natural link to the planet we inhabit. That, after all, is our essence as human beings.
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