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Nature has inspired architecture for millennia and recent discoveries allow designers to understand the wealth of biological information further. The architectural profession is at a critical point in history with regards to reducing its impact on the environment. To truly minimize a building’s impact it needs to interact more holistically with its surroundings. The lessons learned from natural systems can be applied to architecture to lessen its environmental impact, and this is a critical point to ask: Will architects utilize construction technology as well as advanced scientific knowledge to create an architecture that behaves like nature? Imagine a building that can convert carbon dioxide to oxygen and during the process efficiently converting sunlight into energy.
The Architecture + Biomimicry course was set up so students could specifically address this question and explore these possibilities. Research of literature and experts helped the students seek an answer to ‘What would nature do?’ This knowledge was then applied to an architectural solution that addressed the original challenge they selected. Work culminated in an exhibit and was attended by numerous faculty and students from cross-disciplinary fields (including engineering, interior design and sustainability). Discussions with these professors planted the seed for this course to expand and coordinate with their courses. This will lead to a new interdisciplinary approach to seeing and solving challenges in a new light.
Students will learn to look beyond the forms in nature and understand the principles behind them in order to create effective solutions to environmental issues; for example carbon dioxide emissions. Which will require the construction industry to look beyond itself and look to nature with its array of plentiful, creative appropriate designs. Since buildings account for thirty-nine percent of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, these designs provide crucial for architects to learn from.
"Applying Nature’s Solutions to Architectural Problems,"
Building Technology Educator's Society: Vol. 2019
Caryn Brause, Peggi L. Clouston, Naomi Darling (Eds.), Amherst, MA, 2019. https://doi.org/10.7275/n5yc-9983
Available at: https://scholarworks.umass.edu/btes/vol2019/iss1/24