Towards a World of Biomimicry

Some weeks ago I watched a very interesting documentary about biomimicry called “Nature of Life” on ANIXE HD (German: “Perspektive Nachhaltigkeit – Neue Wege im Klimaschutz”). From my point of view the documentary raised some questions and made me more aware of some things. That is why I want to share it (trailer):

Documentary on ANIXE (4 videos, German): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ns4gZosgXIwhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XeXJooomWBchttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_Q8cMkZoHQhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwXeNBUkL_Y

What is interesting is that the documentary argues why everything we created is like it is now and thereby questions our capabilities. In the past, everything we built was very simple due to our state of the art mathematics and geometries at that time. Buildings have always been stable structures when based on simple geometric shapes which are mostly cubic.

In contrast, nature is building many things with highly complex structures. How would our buildings look like when we would build it like nature? For sure, less cubic or non-cubic, probably like flora: trees, flowers, etc. In Zimbabwe a new building adapts the passive cooling system used by termite mounds (inhabitat.com articlewikipedia).

Gunter Pauli goes even one step further in an interview. He implicitly asks: “What if these non-cubic buildings start living or breathing?” I liked the idea of going one step further and not only copying single features of the nature like construction plans for stability and cooling, or the ingredients for super glue. The idea of mimicking nature’s behavior and intelligence goes beyond traditional biomimicry and connects multiple sub-systems to a whole. Nature has an interplay of  all biota: fauna, flora, fungi and bacteria.  The idea shows its benefits e.g. in 0-emission buildings that live from the waste of its inhabitants, relying on the interplay plants integrated in the building (fabric, gardens) and people living in the building. This might change our whole interaction with the planet: living with it, not from it.

I gathered some TED talks on the possibilities of biomimicry:

http://www.ted.com/talks/michael_pawlyn_using_nature_s_genius_in_architecture.html

http://www.ted.com/talks/janine_benyus_biomimicry_in_action.html

http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/18

http://www.ted.com/talks/robert_full_on_engineering_and_evolution.html

Some examples I remember from the documentary:

  • Fans derived from fibonacci code-based  nautilus shells
  • Black & white Zebras produce wind and, hence, a cooling system usable on building’s walls
  • Termite mounds are a prototype for cooling systems that store heat and release it at night
  • Shark skin lowers friction improving ships
  • Whale’s blood circulation requires extreme pumps
Other popular ideas copied from nature:
  • Water-repellent surface of lotus leafs
  • Super glue from sandcastle worms
  • Aerodynamic king fisher bird

Sustainability as the overall goal is an exciting path in my opinion. We’ll see if we ever manage to understand our planet’s system and adapt to it. In the future we might live sustainable and keep our planet alive whilst having advanced technologies.

Is there any science-fiction movie with a sustainable future plot? Please let me know if there is any (except Avatar ;) )!

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