Biomimicry is an applied science and emerging field of study that is inspired by nature, it’s design, processes and systems. Architects and designers, working with biologists can create sustainable solutions for buildings bridging the gap between the natural and built environment. Nature’s shapes and textures have been used as a design tool for decades, but with biomimicry, this new knowledge can be incorporated into the functional design of a space or building. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877042812031928
- For an example, Interface Carpet studied the modularity and flexible randomness of natural objects such as pebbles and leaves and how they move around naturally. Combining these ideas, they designed carpet tile patterns that are slightly different in color and pattern. Without a repeat pattern, the tile can be placed in any direction. If a tile gets damaged, it can be replaced easily without disturbing the overall look of the floor. Random tiles reduce waste and are quicker to install. http://www.interfaceflor.co.uk/web/inspiration/biomimicry
- When designing an urban center in Brazil, the architectural firm, HOK, looked at the Brazilian rain forest and how it rejects heat while returning water to the atmosphere. The project incorporated a glass building facade with slanted blades for shade from the sun. Changing the horizontal blades to spirals, atomized the rain water, sending it back into the environment. http://www.hok.com/thought-leadership/natural-inspiration-through-biomimicry
- Another project by HOK was the reuse of the old San Francisco Mint Museum. Working with biologists, they studied how Bay Area plant life, especially ferns and succulents, capture precipitation. They discovered that many are covered with tiny nodules that gave them more area to capture water. “The design response was to create a glass canopy floating above the Old Mint’s existing open-air courtyard.” This canopy captures rainwater and moisture from the surrounding fog by the use of a ceramic dot screen providing more area to collect water. When the water drains off the glass, it is captured by rooftop reservoirs and “becomes a living museum exhibit that relates to the site’s wetland past”. “Together this water in combination with the reuse waste water from the building is filtered through a wetland ecology of plants and beneficial bacteria on the roof to create clean potable water for the building, resulting in a net zero water building — no consumption from the city water supply.” http://www.hoklife.com/2013/07/24/paul-woolford-on-how-biomimicry-inspired-the-design-of-the-san-francisco-museum-at-the-mint/
Biomimicry, an evolving discipline, takes the time-tested principles of nature and is driving the architecture and interior design industry to a new, more sustainable era.
Suzanne Fletcher Interiors, ASID
6 Mount Pleasant Road
Sparta, NJ 07871