“Creativity is the ability to introduce order into the randomness of nature,” once said by philosopher Eric Hoffer. This outlook has fueled biomimicry, which advocates nature as a design guide rather than a source for raw materials. Biomimicry has influenced many fields and taken form in areas ranging from metaphorical to manipulative.
One example is the Bloom pavilion in Los Angeles, designed by University of Southern California architecture professor Doris Kim Sung, Assoc. AIA. The Bloom pavilion is comprised of gleaming panels of thermobimetal, a composite skin designed to shape-shift with temperature changes. Made from two types of sheet metal with different thermal expansion coefficients, the laminated sheet curls upwards as one of the metals expands at a faster rate. Although the transformation is unrelated to biology, the result is reminiscent of natural phenomena such as breathing or peeling skin.
In the near future, will we be able to tell the difference between nature and man-made design?
Time-lapsed imagery of the Bloom pavilion’s therombimetal panels.
Detail from the Bloom pavilion’s interior.
Images: Architect magazine
Bill McDonough and Michael Braungart
How does a river filter fresh water? How does a spider manufacture resilient fiber? These are the questions that biologist Janine Benyus are asking, along with architect William McDonough and chemist Michael Braungart, to make products safer and more environmentally friendly. The fact is that nature has already given them a head start.
Viewing nature as a source of ideas, rather than merely a source of goods, goes way back in history among indigenous people; however, Western industrial culture has mostly dismissed the idea to academic research. Thanks to work of Benyus, Braungart, and McDonough, such ideas are starting to become a reality. From oil-repellent coating inspired by water bugs, to using prairies as
a model to grow food sustainably,
to observing how chimps cope with illness, the possibilities of learning from our planet’s unexplored sources of intelligence are endless.
Read more about the work of McDonough, Braungart and Benyus in making the world a more sustainable place in this article in Christian Science Monitor.
Images: CNN, GreenatWork