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buildings inspired by nature

What Is Shaping the Way Buildings Are Designed?

Buildings after a while can all begin to look the same. So much so that most of us don’t even notice them. They are someplace we go to live or work or shop, but they don’t really add anything to our daily lives. With people beginning to notice this “sameness,” a question that architects are beginning to ask more and more: How can we make better buildings that mimic or use the beauty of nature and actually add value? How can we design buildings that are unique, functional, congruous, and friendly to people and the planet?

We can learn a lot of from nature. Starting with appearance and structure, nature has had almost 4 billion years to figure out those structures and shapes that withstand the elements and the test of time.  What can we learn from that? From buildings that mimic the strength and beauty of bamboo to those that use the principles (and shape) of barrel cactus to lower cooling costs, there are more and more examples of better designed, and pleasing to the eye, buildings.

Nature also has figured out how to best supply her “buildings” with the energy and HVAC systems they need to be able to keep these structures at a steady temperature using the least amount of energy. To understand these systems and how they work, Biomimics and architects have been looking at termite mounds in Africa, South America and Australia to find out how these structures are kept at a constant temperature year-round, whether it is over 100 degrees (F) outside or below freezing. By studying the airflow and the tunnel system within these structures, we are designing much more energy efficient buildings.

For bees, the process of maintaining their hive looks quite a bit different. Bees use swarm “technology” to fan the hive to maintain temperature. Within the hive of certain types of bees, the bees themselves have different heat tolerances, as the temperature climbs, more and more bees will begin fanning the hive to bring the temperature down. As the temperature lowers, those bees with tolerances above the temperature level will stop fanning. Not having all of the bees fanning at once saves their energy and allows for other work to go on uninterrupted. By building a cooling system within a large building along these same theories, we can save energy and more effectively use our resources.

How about looking to the lowly prairie dog for inspiration on ventilation systems? Or just making our world a little more interesting, functional and beautiful?  

How can you be inspired by nature? Join us for a weeklong look at how nature can inspire all kinds of fascinating and nature friendly innovations. 

Perry Giles is a principal with BMGI. This article was originally published on LinkedIn. You can follow Perry on LinkedIn here

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