One of the most effective ways to cut down the ecological footprint of buildings is to follow the lead of nature through biomimicry. Habitat 2020 is a future forward example of biomimetic architecture that fuses high-tech ideas with basic cellular functions to create ‘living’ structures that operate like natural organisms. This nature-inspired approach to city living looks at the urban landscape as a dynamic and ever-evolving ecosystem. Within this cityscape, buildings open, close, breathe and adapt according to their environment.
The Habitat 2020 building is envisioned for China, and radically alters our perception of a structure’s surface. The exterior has been designed as a living skin, rather than a system of inert materials used only for construction and protection. The skin behaves like a membrane which serves as a connection between the exterior and interior of the habitat. Alternatively, the skin may be considered as the leaf surface having several stomata, cellular openings involved in gaseous exchange and transpiration in plants.
The surface would allow the entry of light, air and water into the housing. It would automatically position itself according to the sunlight and let in light; thus electricity for lighting would not be needed during the day. The air and wind would be channeled into the building and filtered to provide clean air and natural air-conditioning. The active skin would be capable of rain water harvesting where water would be purified, filtered, used and recycled. The skin could even absorb moisture from the air. The waste produced would be converted into biogas energy that could be put to diverse uses in the habitat.