Nature possesses the ability to adjust and morph to the ever changing environment. We have managed to present Mother Nature with a few road blocks, but nature has found ways to progress past the wounds that we have made. Only in recent years have people tried to reverse the effects we have had on our environment. It is in these attempts at solving human problems that bring about the concept of biomimicry. More after the jump...
What (the heck) is biomimicry?
"Biomimicry or biomimetics is the examination of nature, its models, systems, processes, and elements to emulate or take inspiration from in order to solve human problems. The term biomimicry and biomimetics come from the Greek words bios, meaning life, and mimesis, meaning to imitate." In simpler terms, biomimicry is the conscious emulation of nature’s genius.
What can nature teach us?
A lot. Here are some examples of ways nature has provided solutions to human problems:
How has biomimicry been implemented in the built environment?
The implementation of biomimicry can be seen and used in a myriad of forms, but the most pronounced of them is architecture and product/industrial design. This is not only a daily experience, but a minute to minute experience. We find ourselves coming in contact with the built environment (the spaces and places we live and move through) and the things/objects we constantly use like the computer, cell phone, touthbrush, car, and so on.
In regards to architecture and the built environment, the forms we traditionally see in modern contemporary architecture are more revealing of nature’s various forms. The works of Frank Gehry and Santiago Calatrava are perfect examples of architecture that use elements derived from nature to inform design and function. Here are four examples below:
1. Milwaukee Art Museum - Calatrava
2. TGV Exupery Train Station, Lyon - Calatrava
3. Experience Music Project, Seattle - Frank Gehry
4. Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles - Frank Gehry
How can we and how have we already applied biomimicry to landscape architecture?
Biomimicry introduces the pre-existing natural processes, as implemented to physical items and places that cause daily problems. One could say the fluctuation in global temperatures is a problem today and will continue to be if humans don't change their ways. As a means to reduce this problem, we have brought the integration of the landscape into the urban spaces of our city's. This has been a more recent phenomenon and would include green roofs, which help reduce the heat island effect and ultimately the process of our planet's warming. Introducing the landscape to concrete jungles and architecture is an example of nature's genius put to use.
After the events of Superstorm Sandy and other natural disasters, biomimicry has played a major role in city planning and design in waterfront locations. A New York Times article showcases the numerous ways that biomimicry is being used in architecture, urban design, and landscape architecture.
Life creates conditions conducive to life. We thank you Mother Nature for toughing it out.
What examples of biomimicry have you seen in landscape architecture? How might we push further the concept of biomimicry in the profession?
Thanks for reading!