From snowflakes to leaves, nature is full of incredible shapes and intricate designs. Nature itself is a wonder, a world full of plants and animals that adapt themselves to better suit the natural world. This is exactly what biomimicry is all about.

Continue reading below
Our Featured Videos

What is biomimicry?

It’s actually a simple idea: use what exists in nature to build and design areas for human beings. Biomimicry is about bringing nature into every project as a mentor and a guide, not something to destroy or change. Biomimicry copies forms found in nature, but it also finds a way to integrate nature into the design itself. Even as this design concept uses the natural world for inspiration, it also molds itself to existing nature instead of taking away from it.

Related: Biomimicry house hints at a solution to the climate crisis

An outdoor canopy with clear holes

How design firms are using biomimicry in architecture

Jamie Miller is the director of biomimicry for architecture firm B+H. Miller’s job is to use nature to inspire physical designs. This can be anything from wind turbines that borrow from the natural design of whale fins to concrete made to look like coral formations. It’s about observing what works in nature and finding ways to use that in human-centric design.

“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 Miller in a press release. “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.”

Similarly, SvN Architects + Planners appointed Aaron Budd as the Director of Regenerative Practice for their firm. It’s an entirely new division with the purpose of integrating architecture, landscape design and planning into a complete framework. This firm is taking a total approach to biomimicry.

“There is an urgency to integrate our projects with natural and ecological systems that extend beyond ‘sustainable design.’ As a response to our climate crisis, SvN is building a regenerative practice supported by quantifiable impact-oriented performance metrics to define a contextual solution for each project,” said Budd in a press release. “I’m excited to lead a new practice area at SvN that combines the expertise and experience in each of our disciplines to create the best results for our clients and the planet.”

On the other hand, Mark Wronki is the principal with Cumulus Architects Inc. His focus is on achieving sustainability through adaptive reuse. He gives these old structures new life, rather than destroying them. Building upon nature doesn’t mean taking unspoiled land, Sometimes it means using the structures that are already there.

A giant green canopy hanging above a garden

How does biomimicry help the environment problem?

Biomimicry is nothing new. In fact, this is an ancient concept. Start looking for biomimicry and you’ll begin to see it everywhere, from the most ancient structures to the most modern.

The pyramids in Egypt have been named as the greatest buildings ever created, built with the most structurally stable shape possible. But even the pyramids are based on an existing natural form: mountains.

Now, modern designers are taking these ancient concepts one step further and applying them to the modern world. It’s not just the forms of nature that can be used to create design, but all of nature itself. This is the heart of sustainability, using nature to provide for all human needs. Biomimicry will help humans move toward living in the natural world in harmony, rather than destroying it, recognizing that nature and humans are interconnected.

Images via NAARO via the V&A, Compagnie de Phalsbourg and David Gray/Reuters/Landov