Houses separate us from nature. At least, that’s the idea we’ve had until now. Architecture that uses biomimicry, permaculture and related practices to keep nature in our building spaces offers a green alternative.
B+H Architects Director of Biomimicry Jamie Miller is an advocate of sustainable building practices like biomimicry to help with the climate crisis. Biomimicry creates an architectural option that keeps us connected to nature, without removing the biodiversity from the spaces where we live and work. Now the B+H Architects’ newest residential project shows us how a home can blend right into nature itself.
A house that disappears into the landscape
“Imagine stepping inside a house that disappears into a forest all without ever leaving the city,” B+H said.
A landowner in Bengaluru, India wanted to achieve just that, connecting his home to nature within a dense urban area. He didn’t just want to live with nature around him, he wanted to have nature eventually immerse the structure.
As a result, the landowner hired Jamie Miller to help, whose work harnesses biomimicry, permaculture and ecological engineering. The house B+H created for the client uses rammed earth for its primary structure. The designers copied such varied structures as termite mounds, elephant skins and forest canopies to create passive cooling for the home. The house also uses wind and solar power to reduce electricity usage for lighting and to heat the home.
Overall, the house gives the impression of being a hillside unto itself. Trees are planted on multiple levels of the roof. Over time, a forest will grow across all floors, creating privacy and cooling green space. There will also be room for nature to blend with the surrounding environment with little effort on the homeowner.
Permaculture creates circular food systems
Permaculture plantings around the edge of the home support a self-sustaining food system of gardens. These planters can be customized with food, flowers or native plants as desired by the homeowner. It saves space, energy and carbon footprint.
Furthermore, the rains in the region are seasonal, but this system is still self-sufficient for water use and even treats water for reuse. And the inclusion of nature doesn’t stop at the green roofs and front door. Trees are planted on lawns inside this home, redefining what type of structure a home can be.
Biomimicry is sustainable sense
Biomimicry pushes past homes and buildings to be less destructive to the environment, moving them into net positive benefits for the climate. Imagine a world where buildings create more energy than they need as the norm, and where tiered permaculture gardens on building facades can add to the green space vertically in a true urban jungle.
“While there is an urgent need to embed a nature-based approach into architecture, planning and design, industry-wide application and awareness is not where it should be,” said Jamie Miller. “In recent years, we have often focused on our own man-made advancements and ignored the lessons to be learned from the world around us. This is a strategy that has rendered us collectively short-sighted. Perhaps it’s time we embrace new models, and a new mentor, in nature.”
Images via B+H Architects