Looking to Nature for Design Solutions

Bullet train design in Japan which mimics the beak of a kingfisher, which allows it to smoothly enter and exit tunnels without sonic booms, while moving faster on less electricity.

From simple leaf pattern detailing to designing a building so that it looks like a bird taking flight, nature has been a major inspiration for designers for generations. That inspiration has begun to take a new form as different technologies improve. Biomimicry is a new mode of creative problem solving where one looks to solutions nature has created for the same problems. Rather than simply pulling from the aesthetics of an organism, biomimics seek to understand the technical side of these natural solutions. There are now medical device surfaces designed on the micro-scale to mimic the roughness of shark scales, which are so rough that bacteria physically cannot colonize on them. There are pipe cleaning agents that break up calcium carbonate in the same way that small ocean organisms pull the mineral from seawater to form their iconic spiral shells. Janine Benyus, the major creator and biggest advocate for the biomimicry movement, has now developed a website called AskNature.org, where you can see how nature has solved problems like thermal regulation or water purification. Biomimicry has delved into the architectural realm in increasingly creative ways, ranging from ventilation strategies based off termite mounds to structural forms that mimic soap bubble aggregation and the potential is huge.

“Ask Nature – the Biomimicry Design Portal.” Ask Nature – the Biomimicry Design Portal. Ed. Janine Benyus. The Biomimicry Institute, n.d. Web. 07 Sept. 2012. <http://www.asknature.org/&gt;
.Biomimicry in Action. Perf. Janine Benyus. Biomimicry in Action. TED: Ideas worth Spreading, Aug. 2009. Web. 6 Sept. 2012. <http://www.ted.com/talks/janine_benyus_biomimicry_in_action.html&gt;.The Promise of Biomimicry. Perf. Janine Benyus. The Promise of Biomimicry. TED: Ideas worth Spreading, Apr. 2007. Web. 07 Sept. 2012. <http://www.ted.com/talks/janine_benyus_shares_nature_s_designs.html&gt;.

Image: http://www.anneofcarversville.com/green/2010/6/27/biomimicry-38-billion-years-of-natural-rd.html

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