In each case, nature would provide the models: solar cells copied from leaves, steely fibers woven spider-style, shatterproof ceramics drawn from mother-of-pearl, cancer cures compliments of chimpanzees, perennial grains inspired by tallgrass, computers that signal like cells, and a closed-loop economy that takes its lessons from redwoods, coral reefs, and oak-hickory forests.
In these pages, you'll meet men and women who are exploring nature's masterpieces--photosynthesis, self-assembly, natural selection, self-sustaining ecosystems, eyes and ears and skin and shells, talking neurons, natural medicines, and more--and then copying these designs and manufacturing processes to solve our own problems. I call their quest biomimicry--the conscious emulation of life's genius. Innovation inspired by nature.
I see the signs of nature-based innovation everywhere I go now. From Velcro (based on the grappling hooks of seeds) to holistic medicine, people are trusting the inscrutable wisdom of natural solutions. And yet I wonder, why now? Why hasn't our culture always rushed to emulate what obviously works? Why are we becoming nature's proteges at this late date?
These individual achievements pale, however, when we consider the intricate interliving that characterizes whole systems, communities like tidal marshes or saguaro forests. In ensemble, living things maintain a dynamic stability, like dancers in an arabesque, continually juggling resources without waste. After decades of faithful study, ecologists have begun to fathom hidden likenesses among many interwoven systems. From their notebooks, we can begin to divine a canon of nature's laws, strategies, and principles that resonates in every chapter of this book:
Studying these poems day in and day out, biomimics develop a high degree of awe, bordering on reverence. Now that they see what nature is truly capable of, nature-inspired innovations seem like a hand up out of the abyss. As we reach up to them, however, I can't help but wonder how we will use these new designs and processes. What will make the Biomimicry Revolution any different from the Industrial Revolution? Who's to say we won't simply steal nature's thunder and use it in the ongoing campaign against life?
It's nearly midnight, and the ball is dropping--a wrecking ball aimed at the Eiffel Tower of squirming, flapping, pirouetting life. But at heart this is a hopeful book. At the same time that ecological science is showing us the extent of our folly, it is also revealing the pattern of nature's wisdom reflected in all life. With the leadership of the biomimics you will meet in the chapters that follow, I am hoping that we will have the brains, the humility, and the spirituality that are needed to hold back that ball and take our seat at the front of nature's class.
Biomimetic architecture is a branch of the new science of biomimicry defined and popularized by Janine Benyus in her 1997 book (Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature). Biomimicry (bios - life and mimesis - imitate) refers to innovations inspired by nature as one which studies nature and then imitates or takes inspiration from its designs and processes to solve human problems. The book suggests looking at nature as a Model, Measure, and Mentor", suggesting that the main aim of biomimicry is sustainability.
Architecture has long drawn from nature as a source of inspiration. Biomorphism, or the incorporation of natural existing elements as inspiration in design, originated possibly with the beginning of man-made environments and remains present today. The ancient Greeks and Romans incorporated natural motifs into design such as the tree-inspired columns. Late Antique and Byzantine arabesque tendrils are stylized versions of the acanthus plant. Varro's Aviary at Casinum from 64 BC reconstructed a world in miniature. A pond surrounded a domed structure at one end that held a variety of birds. A stone colonnaded portico had intermediate columns of living trees.
The term Biomimetic architecture refers to the study and application of construction principles which are found in natural environments and species, and are translated into the design of sustainable solutions for architecture. Biomimetic architecture uses nature as a model, measure and mentor for providing architectural solutions across scales, which are inspired by natural organisms that have solved similar problems in nature. Using nature as a measure refers to using an ecological standard of measuring sustainability, and efficiency of man-made innovations, while the term mentor refers to learning from natural principles and using biology as an inspirational source.
Architectural innovations that are responsive to architecture do not have to resemble a plant or an animal. Where form is intrinsic to an organism's function, then a building modeled on a life form's processes may end up looking like the organism too. Architecture can emulate natural forms, functions and processes. Though a contemporary concept in a technological age, biomimicry does not entail the incorporation of complex technology in architecture. In response to prior architectural movements biomimetic architecture strives to move towards radical increases in resource efficiency, work in a closed loop model rather than linear (work in a closed cycle that does not need a constant intake of resources to function), and rely on solar energy instead of fossil fuels. The design approach can either work from design to nature or from nature to design. Design to nature means identifying a design problem and finding a parallel problem in nature for a solution. An example of this is the DaimlerChrysler bionic car that looked to the boxfish to build an aerodynamic body. The nature to design method is a solution-driven biologically inspired design. Designers start with a specific biological solution in mind and apply it to design. An example of this is Sto's Lotusan paint, which is self-cleaning, an idea presented by the lotus flower, which emerges clean from swampy waters.
Biomimicry has been criticized for distancing man from nature by defining the two terms as separate and distinct from one another. The need to categorize human as distinct from nature upholds the traditional definition of nature, which is that it is those things or systems that come into existence independently of human intention. Joe Kaplinsky further argues that in basing itself on nature's design, biomimicry risks presuming the superiority of nature-given solutions over the manmade. In idolizing nature's systems and devaluing human design, biomimetic structures cannot keep up with the man-made environment and its problems. He contends that evolution within humanity is culturally based in technological innovations rather than ecological evolution. However, architects and engineers do not base their designs strictly off of nature but only use parts of it as inspiration for architectural solutions. Since the final product is actually a merging of natural design with a human innovation, biomimicry can actually be read as bringing man and nature in harmony with one another.
Finding sustainable solutions for a balanced ecosystem by empowering people to learn and apply nature-inspired design strategies is the philosophy that lies at the heart of biomimicry and is absolutely critical in effecting systemic change.
Create a representation of your main takeaways from this experience, either a journal entry or a drawing. What does reconnection mean to you now? Has this experience reshaped how you may reconnect to nature in daily life? What did you learn? Was there a detail, shape or idea in the natural environment that inspired? What emotions or colors sum up this experience?
Bionics in Action: The Design Work of Franco Lodato, MotorolaJens Bernsen, 2004Franco Ladato, a designer whose career includes work for DuPont, Gillette, and now Motorola, has studied bionics and natural design and how it has influenced his designs. This book is filled not just with product images, but also photos and sketches of nature.
Nature Design: From Inspiration to InnovationAngeli Sachs, 2007Almost completely filled with photographs, this book explores the discovery of nature in the Art Nouveau period from the 1930s to the 1970s.
It's been two decades since the book "Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature," was published, in May 1997. And in the 20 years since, the author, Janine Benyus, has been spearheading a revolution in design thinking, getting companies, cities and others to look to nature and natural systems for answers to questions about how to harness nature's wisdom to create products, buildings, cities and other things that are nontoxic, closed-loop, regenerative and, as she puts it, "conducive to life."
Repackaged with a new afterword, this "valuable and entertaining" (New York Times Book Review) book explores how scientists are adapting nature's best ideas to solve tough 21st century problems.
If chaos theory transformed our view of the universe, biomimicry is transforming our life on Earth. Biomimicry is innovation inspired by nature - taking advantage of evolution's 3.8 billion years of R&D since the first bacteria. Biomimics study nature's best ideas: photosynthesis, brain power, and shells - and adapt them for human use. They are revolutionising how we invent, compute, heal ourselves, harness energy, repair the environment, and feed the world. 2b1af7f3a8