Biomimetrics – How nature shapes architecture

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Do you remember the Greek legend in which Daedalus, inspired by birds, builds wings for his son Icarus so he could flee from the tyrant Minos? Then you surely remember that this journey did not go so well. The wax on the wings melted when Icarus flew too near the sun and he crashed. What is interesting about this story is that Daedalus’ inspiration was Mother Nature. Which leads us to the topic of bionics. Nature has been and is a role model for many inventions and achievements, for instance in packaging, technology and architecture. But let’s go on a little trip …

to the classics of biomimetrics

The Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin

© Berthold Werner, CC BY-SA 3.0 | Ansgar Koreng,  CC BY-SA 3.0

The building is a place for international contemporary arts and a forum for current developments and discourse. It is located on the banks of the Spree in the zoological garden near the government district. Hugh Stubbins, former assistant to Walter Gropius, worked on the design of the building, which was intended to make a statement on the Cold War. Berliners were quick to dub the building the “pregnant oyster” because of its shell-like appearance – although the architect’s actual intention was to give shape to the feeling of absolute freedom, which is why the curved roof resembles wings.

Sydney Opera House

© Bernard Gagnon, CC BY-SA 3.0 | Diliff, CC BY-SA 3.0

In the next classic, the Sydney Opera House, nature was the inspiration for the shape, as well as for the body and building structure. The sheer size of the roof construction was a real challenge for which architect Jørn Utzon drew inspiration from palm fronds – and the roof was not modeled after sails, as popularly assumed, but rather after orange peel.

The Multihalle

© Hubert Berberich, CC BY 3.0

The Multihalle in the Herzogenried Park is also called “the Mannheim marvel” because it is the largest self-supporting structure in Europe. It can accommodate 2,600 visitors on 10,000 square meters without a single support column. This tent-roof has been made possible by a unique lattice shell construction. Frei Otto at the Institute for Lightweight Structures and Conceptual Design (ILEK) got together with arachnologist Ernst Kullmann and came away with inspiration for spider-web structures.

Modern bionics

When the natural and digital world merge

Shapes are inspired by nature and linked to real, virtual and pop culture elements. This results in unique architecture and new design from 3deluxe. They have labeled their work “Genetic architecture”, oriented to the growth processes of organic systems. The seemingly boundless design possibilities are borne out by the many different projects already executed:

© from left to right: Headquarters Kaffee Partner – Corporate architecture, Emanuel Raab, CC BY 3.0; DJ-Kanzel Cocoon Club, Sascha Jahnke CC BY 3.0; Showstage Olympiastadion Berlin & Leonardo Glass Cube, Emanuel Raab, CC BY



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