Nature has long been a source of inspiration for architects and designers, whether they aim to blend a building into its environment or use only local materials during construction. The process generally emphasizes plants and landscapes, but the growing interest in biomimicry is drawing developers to fauna as well as flora. From the familiar to the fantastic, here are six architectural projects that look like living creatures.
Sea shells have influenced the form of buildings in Japan, Monte Carlo, and Mexico, to name a few. This nautilus-shaped home in Mexico City, imagined by Javier Senosiain, was inspired by Gaudi and Frank Lloyd Wright and features a stained glass door, a spiral staircase built over a living floor, and an artificial stream. Home sweet home is right.
The Institute for Computational Design (ICD) and the Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE) at the University of Stuttgart have robotically produced a series of research pavilions that explore the limits of biomimicry. In 2014, the campus debuted a glass-and-carbon-fiber structure inspired by beetles. The animal’s geometric, double-layered shell proved to be an ideal model for efficient construction.
At the center of a new dining and shopping promenade in Zhuhai, China, RMJM designed a 330-foot tower that looks like a giant fish jumping out of the Pearl River Delta. Perforated aluminum panels sheath the building in a scale-like skin, protecting the structure from the sun. The jumping fish shape symbolizes the rapid growth and prosperity of Zhuhai. Visitors can count their fortunes from the top-floor observation deck.
Visionary designer Vincent Callebaut has a thing for fantastical forms. Having already based the concept for a New York vertical garden on a dragonfly, he then revealed plans for a whale-shaped garden that would float through the world’s rivers, purifying the water as it swims. The self-sufficient ecosystem runs off solar panels and hydro turbines and brims with gardens built for biofiltration.
It’s fitting that a prehistory museum would be inspired by an ancient slithering creature such as the snake. But the chrome-coated attraction is also futuristic, featuring double wall glazing that regulates heating and cooling and a reflective skin that mirrors the landscape of the Jeongok district. At night, light shines through the serpent’s metal pores.
Outside-the-box architecture brought us this mythical bridge over Vietnam’s Han River. Not only is the steel bridge the longest dragon-shaped bridge in the world (at 545 feet), it’s also covered in 2,500 LED lights, so the fictional creature glows while occasionally spitting water and breathing fire.