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SUSTAINABILITY| 03.01.2021

Biomimicry: Observing nature and emulating solutions in pursuit of sustainability  

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This branch of science (bio meaning “life” and mimesis meaning “to imitate”) studies nature as a source of inspiration for innovative technologies with a view to solving human problems — and it is gaining traction with regard to biodiversity-compatible architecture and construction 

Mother Nature has millions of years of a head start on human beings and can unlock solutions to our problems. Biomimicry, also known as biomimetics or biomimetism, refers to the process of observing, understanding and applying natural solutions to human problems, based on biological principles and by using all sorts of biomaterials.

An article published in the Risk Management magazine by MAPFRE Global Risks points to biomimicry as way to improve energy efficiency. How? By designing buildings based on the structures found in natural organisms. “One of its major challenges will be fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in an attempt to minimize environmental impact while responding to the social and energy challenges facing humanity,” says architect and Director of the Biomimetics Laboratory, Marlén López.

Building more efficient structures, manufacturing materials, creating zero-consumption systems, managing resources, controlling thermal comfort and producing energy for buildings are just some of the advantages of this process.

The article refers to certain examples of biomimetic structures around the world, such as the Palacio de Cristal (Glass Palace), located in Madrid’s Retiro park and based on the structural patterns of the giant water lily leaf; the Gherkin in London, with a ventilation system that mimics the breathing system of marine sponges and sea anemones; and the Sahara Forest Project, which, although still under development, will use the ocean as a source to reforest desert regions.

Along with other areas such as sustainability and green nanotechnology, biomimicry will be a catalyst for research and innovation in fields such as medicine, robotics, energy, biotechnology and artificial intelligence.

Biomimicry has gained key allies in the fields of parametric design software and new manufacturing technologies, such as 3D printing and laser cutting, which are now able to create designs inspired by nature while minimizing waste.

Check out the magazine here.