Janine Benyus: Biomimicry in action

Nature has been perfecting its model through evolution for 3.8 billion years. According to Benyus,  biommicry remembers us that organism and nature have already solve some of the problems that humans are experiencing with their own environment.

She is a champion of biomimcry and has become an important voice for the designers inspired by nature’s genius designs. One of her most recent projects is called AskNature, and it explores what happens when we think of nature as a function and we look at what the organism can teach us in regard to design. This project compiles thousands of nature’s functions into one data base accessible to the public with the sole purpose to rethink design in nature’s genius way.

For Benyus, How did nature solve it? is the question we need to ask every time we are looking for a design solution.

Some examples of nature as a design tool:

Solar energy from nature: A system from leaves, self assembly.

  • Ex. OneSun Company.

CO2 as a building block: Recipe from Coral Reef to sequestrate CO2 for construction.

  • Ex. Calera

Desalinization of water: Mimiquin technology from the red blood cells.

  • Ex. Aquaporin

Light weight structure: Trees and bones constantly reforming themselves on stress. They show us the minimum amount of material an organism must use to have maximum strength and minimum weight.

  • Ex. GM Opel – Bionic car.

Energy use: Social insects. How the bees and flies are more productive in hives.

  • Ex. Regen

Water maximization: Capillary reaction from trees as wall papers in buildings, without bumps.

Michael Pawlyn: Using nature’s genius in architecture

According to Pawlyn, a successful sustainability revolution accomplishes:

  • Resource efficiency
  • Linear to close loop model
  • Fossil fuel economy to solar economy

Put in a very general way, we need to look at the way in which the waste of one organism in nature becomes the nutrient of another.

When thinking of sustainable architecture, we can look at cities as as opportunities and transform their metabolism to create a close loop model from which we could become more aware of the way we treat waste. 

We often think that solar energy is complicated to design or even incorporates high technology. However, energy problems are not intractable. If we research closer, we can realize that we receive 10,000 times more energy from the sun than from the other forms of energy. Imagine, with solar panels we can take advantage of this resource by producing energy as well shade.

Michael Pawlyn’s TED Talk gives us a better insight on how we can use nature genius for a more sustainable architecture: