Biomimetics and Biophilia – the new sustainable construction?

There is a new language and lexicon emerging within the world of built environment sustainability, from circular economy to biophilia,  indicating a maturing of construction’s approach, moving from better waste management to circular economy thinking, from biodiversity management to biophilia.

I participated in a brilliant tweetchat yesterday evening, under the hashtag of #CityofLife, hosted by Melissa Sterry (http://melissasterry.com) and others with some very knowledgeable contributors from Northern Europe and elsewhere, exploring the concepts of Biomimetics in buildings and cities. There will be a transcript soon and more debates, so watch this #CityofLife space.

It did strike me though, whilst being comfortable with these new terms in sustainability, many readers and subscribers to this blog may not be, so here is a quick primer.

Biomimetics –  learning from nature as models for building design and construction. See Building a Bionic City (Intriguingly George Mokhtar (@GeorgeMokhtar) tweeted  yesterday before the chat “biomimetics, basically the reason I started using 3D models” proving, maybe, a foundation link with BIM?)

Biomimcry, imitation of nature for the purpose of solving complex problems. Perhaps the best source of information can be found at Biomimicry38  and the Janine Benyus  Biomimicry TED talk

Biophillia, exploring the intrinsic bond between humans and nature, most commonly from a health and well being perspective of building users and occupants.

lbc biophillia

Biophllic thinking is core philosophy for the Living Building Challenge  and suggests the adoption of Richard Kellert’s Six Biophilic Design Elements, (roughly 70 design attributes,  from egg-shaped buildings a historical connection to place)

Suggested reading:

E.O. Wilson, Biophilia 1984 (There is a very useful primer on Ecology, based around E.O Wilson work, within the iBooks (ipad) series from the Open University, with texts, videos and workbooks)

Last Child in the Woods: Richard Louv

Building for Life: Richard Kellert

Case Study Cities: Melissa Sterry, Sustain Magazine

Suggested people to follow on twitter

@melissasterry @thefuturemakers @StefanoSerafi11

@amandasturgeon  @livingbuilding @livingbldgUK

@JanineBenyus @RichLouv @biomimicry_uk @AskNatureTweets

Other Links:

Bios – Flipboard Magazine 

Biophilia in the Real World

Biophilic Design Solutions and Effect

Sustain – my flipboard magazine 

Ecologically Rethinking Construction

Jonathan Dawson, head of economics at Schumacher College, writing on Guardian Sustainable Business asked “How do we redesign a new economic theory framed by ecological systems?”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA question we need to ask and start addressing within the built environment.

We are seeing a new vocabulary emerging with concepts such as biomimicry, zero or net energy, water and environmental impact, Living Buildings, biophillia, circular economy … and more … As the interest and importance of these concepts influence in the way we design, build and use buildings, do we need a new paradigm?  Some 15 years after Egan, do we need to again rethink construction to address these emergent sustainability themes. approaches and skills that once again the sector is lacking, engaging the economists, surveyors and accountants? As Jonathan Dawson comments:

Ecology offers the insight that the economy is best understood as a complex adaptive system, more a garden to be lovingly observed and tended than a machine to be regulated by mathematically calculable formulae.

A comment that makes a nice resonance with the Living Building Challenge philosophy

And of course a key element in this new thinking is the internet, web 2.0 and the power of social media.

Enabled by the growing power of information technology, whole new ways of doing business and organising society are emerging, whose strength lies not in economies of scale but in economies of co-operation and symbiosis

Over the weekend , via twitter I caught a slide via Rachel Armstrong illustrating the difference and need to move from 20th century Cartesian or Newtonian thinking into 21st complexity, emergent thinking …

screenshot.32

Jonathan Dawson: “This moment of history calls on us to rewrite the dictionary and create new stories, much as the generations following on from Copernicus did to reflect the new world-view that emerged from his astronomical insights”