Form as organic structure: the concept of biomimicry biomimetics

The concept of form as organic structure is developed from the study of nature turned to the concept of sustainability and environmentally sound development; This concept takes the form of architecture with a new concept of geometry to construct and is directed to the concrete reduction in energy consumption and a new way of thinking about the structure of organic matter criteria.

The reflections from the past handed down by Leonardo da Vinci, with its prototypes, had realized the need for maximum harmony with nature for sustainable development, they are reflected in the second half of the twentieth century with studies that are called “biomimicry biomimetics “, the terms of which are derived from the greek: βίος (bios), life, and μίμησις (mimesis), imitation, by μιμεῖσθαι (mīmeisthai), imitate, from μῖμος (mimos), mime, actor.

The basis of this, the concept of natural evolution where organisms have evolved into well adapted structures and materials over geological time through natural selection. Biomimetics has given rise to new technologies inspired by biological solutions to macro and at the nanoscale.

Architecture has long drawn from nature as a source of inspiration. Biomorphism, or the incorporation of natural existing elements as inspiration in design, originated possibly with the beginning of man-made environments and remains present today. The ancient Greeks and Romans incorporated natural motifs into design such as the tree-inspired columns. Late Antique and Byzantine arabesque tendrils are stylized versions of the acanthus plant. Varro’s Aviary at Casinum from 64 BC reconstructed a world in miniature. A pond surrounded a domed structure at one end that held a variety of birds. A stone colonnaded portico had intermediate columns of living trees.

The Sagrada Família church by Antoni Gaudi begun in 1882 is a well-known example of using nature’s functional forms to answer a structural problem. He used columns that modeled the branching canopies of trees to solve statics problems in supporting the vault.

Organic architecture uses nature-inspired geometrical forms in design and seeks to reconnect the human with his or her surroundings. Kendrick Bangs Kellogg, a practicing organic architect, believes that “above all, organic architecture should constantly remind us not to take Mother Nature for granted – work with her and allow her to guide your life. Inhibit her, and humanity will be the loser.” This falls in line with another guiding principle, which is that form should follow flow and not work against the dynamic forces of nature Architect Daniel Liebermann’s commentary on organic architecture as a movement highlights the role of nature in building: “…a truer understanding of how we see, with our mind and eye, is the foundation of everything organic. Man’s eye and brain evolved over aeons of time, most of which were within the vast untrammeled and unpaved landscape of our Edenic biosphere! We must go to Nature for our models now, that is clear!”[4] Organic architects use man-made solutions with nature-inspired aesthetics to bring about an awareness of the natural environment rather than relying on nature’s solutions to answer man’s problems.

Metabolist architecture, a movement present in Japan post-WWII, stressed the idea of endless change in the biological world. Metabolists promoted flexible architecture and dynamic cities that could meet the needs of a changing urban environment. The city is likened to a human body in that its individual components are created and become obsolete, but the entity as a whole continues to develop. Like the individual cells of a human body that grow and die although human body continues to live, the city, too, is in a continuous cycle of growth and change. The methodology of Metabolists views nature as a metaphor for the man-made. Kisho Kurokawa’s Helix City is modeled after DNA, but uses it as a structural metaphor rather than for its underlying qualities of its purpose of genetic coding.

Biomimetic architecture goes beyond using nature as inspiration for the aesthetic components of built form, but instead seeks to use nature to solve problems of the building’s functioning. Biomimicry means to imitate life and originates from the Greek words bios (life) and mimesis (imitate). The movement is a branch off of the new science defined and popularized by Janine Benyus in her 1997 book Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature as one which studies nature and then imitates or takes inspiration from its designs and processes to solve human problems. Rather than thinking of the building as a machine for living in, biomimicry asks architects to think of a building as a living thing for a living being.