It’s been a busy six months for the 2015 Biomimicry Global Design Challenge finalists. Last October, eight teams from around the world were chosen to be part of the first-ever biomimicry food systems accelerator. After pitching and getting feedback on their design concepts in-person during SXSW Eco in Austin, TX, these intrepid innovators began working furiously to test and prototype their nature-inspired design concepts.
Biomimicry In Design
Close calls make for compelling origin stories, but the sheer randomness of this approach to scientific innovation means that we may be missing a lot. It’s discouraging to think that small decisions and chance events have enough sway to knock innovators off course so easily, even with the rigors of the scientific process. So what can we do to strengthen this “fragility of grand discoveries?” We can start by looking in the right places to begin with.
Our cities are constantly growing and an ever-rising number of people live on a very small fraction of the world’s surface area. By 2050, about 70% of the world’s population is expected to live in urban areas. How do we serve people’s needs for mobility while simultaneously sacrificing neither biodiversity and environmental values nor human health and well-being?
In late summer, the ideas started pouring in from every corner of the world.
Thousands of designers, architects, biologists, engineers, students, nature-lovers, and big thinkers had answered the call to completely rethink our food system using design inspiration from nature. The Biomimicry Global Design Challenge, hosted by the Biomimicry Institute and the Ray C. Anderson Foundation, provided a platform for these global innovators to practice biomimicry in action, by applying it to one of the most urgent issues of our time – our broken food chain. It makes perfect sense – how are we going to create a healthier, more equitable, truly regenerative food system without learning from the natural ecosystems and organisms that are an inextricable part of it?
The seed landed on my table. It was a complete system that contained DNA to start a new tree, a transport mechanism that made use of existing forces, and clear evidence of how it grew. This system had multiple parts or sub-systems, and each had a function. All were interconnected closely.
Designers in the building industry are continually looking for new and innovative ways to create beautiful, livable spaces that are environmentally responsible and resilient. Increasingly, those on the leading edge are looking to nature as a source of inspiration. Here are nine examples of how applying biomimicry in the context of the built environment can help designers, projects, and communities as they work to create naturally sustainable, inherently resilient spaces.