The Biomimicry Manual: What can the honeybee teach a designer?

March 16, 2017 by  
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What exactly is biomimicry ? I think of it as a way of unlocking a whole world of super-powers for humanity. It is literally the next stage of human evolution. Leonardo DaVinci himself said, “Those who are inspired by a model other than Nature, a mistress above all masters, are laboring in vain.” Maybe we’ve been studying the wrong master, trying to make a living on this planet in ways that will ultimately deplete us all. That’s certainly the case with humans and honeybees . Yes, humans love honey, and the busy hum of bees in the garden is a sound that gives us peace on a warm day. But we have much more to learn from them. Find out the lessons they have to teach in today’s entry of The Biomimicry Manual ! Great designers know that people feel good when they are surrounded by plants and other living things. Gardens are good for the soul. That’s ‘biophilia.’ Nature makes us happy. We love using ‘organic’ raw materials, like honey and beeswax, because they are useful and renewable, pleasing and non-toxic. They won’t sit in a landfill for the next thousand years like yesterday’s plastic. The Earth will recycle them. That’s ‘bio-utilization,’ using nature because it’s just good stuff. Our herds of goats and sheep, the crop varieties we’ve grown and selected for millennia because they taste the way we want, and even the family dog are ‘bio-assistants.’ They help us make and do the things we need. Honeybees, for instance, are not ‘wild animals,’ but domestic helpers. We have shaped their evolution to suit ourselves. Biomimicry is a little different. It only “uses” life’s ideas. It’s when you have a problem, and you ask, “how other living creatures solving it?” Instead of harvesting that creature or its by-products, you copy the idea itself and make it anew, make it human. Every plant and animal , fungus, and bacteria has a whole genome worth of time-tested, sustainable ideas to inspire us. That’s a lot of superpowers. Myself, I like bioinspiration of all kinds. John Todd ‘s ‘ Living Machines ‘, for instance, do a little of everything: biophilia, bio-utilization, bio-assistance, and biomimicry. He uses a pleasing array of living plants and bacteria (both domestic and wild) to imitate the way a natural wetland ecosystems works, filtering and treating sewage in the process. Believe it or not, a bee has to eat eight pounds of honey to make a single pound of wax to safely store her honey and larvae in. It’s an expensive proposition, and it has to be done efficiently. The ancient Greeks understood that modular hexagonal honeycomb makes the most storage possible with the least amount of material. Architects and designers are tapping this for all sorts of applications. Panelite , in New York, offers hexagonal ClearShade insulating glass. It passively regulates heat, while still letting in lots of light. The Sinosteel skyscraper in Tianjin, China uses honeycomb windows the same way. Our honeybee has other brilliant design ideas as well. For instance, her 300 degree field of vision literally gives her eyes in the back of her head. Nissan Motors is working on a laser range finder inspired by these curved, compound eyes, which will detect and avert potential collisions. German researchers are designing a honeybee-inspired wide-angle lens for aerial drones, while other researchers are using their navigation tricks to optimize GPS and tracking systems. We know that it’s physically impossible for bumblebees to fly. And yet they do, with incredible efficiency and maneuverability. So what are we missing? We aren’t completely sure, but one thing they have is the ability to zip and unzip their two-part wings for flight and landing. What if our airplanes could do that? Wouldn’t that save space on aircraft carriers and in busy airports? And when we say something is “the bees’ knees,” it’s even better than we thought. Insect joints contain ‘resilin,’ a springy protein. Turns out to be the most efficient elastic known, dramatically better than natural or synthetic rubber. With it, bees can flap their wings a thousand times a minute, and fleas can jump one hundred times their body length. An Australian government research group has mimicked this “near-perfect” rubber, creating 98% bounce back. That’s practically a perpetual-motion machine! These examples are taken from Jay Harman’s new book, The Shark’s Paintbrush: Biomimicry and how Nature is Inspiring Innovation . There are so many good ideas in nature, it boggles the mind, And that’s just the bees! There is literally an infinite world of time-tested, sustainable ideas to learn from. And if we get “buzz-y” studying them, we can unlock a whole new set of super-powers to take us into the future. + The Biomimicry Manual  An evolutionary biologist, writer, sustainability expert, and passionate biomimicry professional in the  Biomimicry 3.8 BPro certification program , Dr. Tamsin Woolley-Barker blogs at  BioInspired Ink  and serves as Content Developer for the  California Association of Museums ‘ Green Museums Initiative. She is working on a book about organizational transformation inspired by nature.

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The Biomimicry Manual: What can the honeybee teach a designer?

This 7-year-old from Maryland might be the next Einstein

February 6, 2017 by  
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Romanieo Golphin, Jr. may only be 7, but already there are whispers that he could be the Albert Einstein of his generation. The home-schooled boy from Silver Spring, Maryland, showed signs of precociousness at age 2, when he was able to tackle questions about particle physics between spoonfuls of Cheerios. Although Romanieo digs art and music and loves LEGO and candy, his real passions lie with science, a subject where he gets to articulate “big words” like “cyclohexanecarboxylic acid” that would trip the tongues of most grownups. “They’re not a mouthful for me,” he told the Washington Post . People started to take notice. Steven Goldfarb, an experimental physicist at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), which runs the Large Hadron Collider, invited the pint-size prodigy and his family to tour the facilities in Switzerland, whereupon he dubbed Romanieo a CERN “ambassador” to the Washington region. Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium and host of National Geographic’s Cosmos , is said to be a fan. The elder Golphin, an adviser for the music department at the University of North Carolina , regularly takes Romanieo to to university classes to observe. “When he looked in my classroom, all I saw was his hair, his forehead and his eyeballs,” said Brian Hogan, a professor of chemistry at UNC. “And his eyeballs, they looked like hard-boiled eggs, they were open so wide.” Related: 7-year-old California boy saves 10K for college with his own recycling company Hogan was a skeptic at the beginning, but little Romanieo quickly won him over. “He could be the next Einstein,” he said. “He’s got a mind that is built to solve problems.” Romanieo’s parents hope that their son’s aptitude for science will lead him change people’s lives for the better. But they also acknowledge that his interests could just as easily lead him to a career in the arts. “Let the boy free, and he’s going to create his world,” Golphin said. Via the Washington Post Photos from Facebook

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This 7-year-old from Maryland might be the next Einstein

Concrete brise soleil keeps this glass-enveloped building cool in sweltering Ghana

June 15, 2016 by  
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One Airport Square is a striking building featuring a very unique structure on its façade: a criss-crossing brise soleil made out of concrete. Its powerful aesthetic was inspired by the motifs of the traditional African fabrics and peculiar patterns of palm tree bark. While the design embraces local traditions, it also meets the needs of environmental sustainability. The building’s shell is a combination of overhanging slabs and diagonal frames that shelter the interior against direct sun rays. Thanks to this design, One Airport Square features an unexpected envelope entirely made of glass and, therefore, 17,000 m² of bright interiors that are also protected from the intense sun. Who would have ever imagined a comfortable, completely glazed 9-story building in the heart of Africa? Besides acting as a giant brise soleil , One Airport Square’s irregular grid is also a load-bearing element of the building. Related: How thousands of rough wooden logs protect this pavilion from solar radiation Interestingly, Cucinella did not simply deliver an eye-catching and sustainable landmark. The development of the Kotoka International Airport area in Accra is also a great public space. From the urban point of view, One Airport Square project is a congregation piazza that’s active day and night and capable of hosting various events and activities. The commercial gallery of the ground floor contains shops, restaurants and cafes, allowing One Airport Square to make a significant contribution to the surrounding community, landscape and providing an example in terms of ethics, cultural sensitivity and environmental sustainability. + Mario Cucinella Architects Images via Fernando Guerra courtesy of the Mario Cucinella Architects

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Bambú Social educates and helps people build affordable green housing using local resources

March 2, 2016 by  
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TU Delft’s Bambú Social is an educational and construction project with the goal of sharing knowledge and expertise about the use of local resources for sustainable and affordable social housing. In El Rama, BAMBÚ SOCIAL set up a ‘Sustainable Construction’ course, together with the local university and the municipality, to create a sustainable and dignified alternative to social housing. This building method can be practiced in a completely local manner, with the integration of a decentralized, low-tech, natural water purification and storage system in order to provide clean drinking water for the inhabitants of the house. The constructed model house is the base for the design of an affordable social home, and the manual – ‘Un manual de construcción sostenible’,  – explains the entire process with step by step drawings. The model house has been donated to the local university and currently functions as a library, but the knowledge shared can help the community for a lifetime. + TU Delft The article above was submitted to us by an Inhabitat reader. Want to see your story on Inhabitat ? Send us a tip by following this link. Remember to follow our instructions carefully to boost your chances of being chosen for publishing!

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Bambú Social educates and helps people build affordable green housing using local resources

Hearth & Market food truck is bringing the farmers market to you

December 23, 2015 by  
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Hearth & Market is a wood fired food truck & mobile farmers market that connects people to organic farms and healthy living. The main goal is to educate people about current food issues to create a dialogue towards better health and happiness, as well as make it easy to access the best organic food possible.  Offering nutrient rich, certified organic produce, Hearth & Market will visit cities across the country to share ‘made to order’ wood fired food prepared in the mobile kitchen and hand crafted food and products to take home and use in home kitchens, along with supplies, education and workshops to help teach people how to ‘do it yourself’ available online store. You can support this new endeavor on Kickstarter now and get some of their products as an early backer. Help Hearth & Market reinvent ‘farm to table’ into ‘farm to food truck’ with new meaning and mobility, as well as an authenticity and quality only experienced in the fusion of city and country. + Hearth & Market on Kickstarter + Heart & Market

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Happy 59th birthday to Colo, the world’s oldest captive gorilla

December 23, 2015 by  
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This week, a very special gorilla celebrated a very special birthday, and you’d better believe she had a special party to go right along with it. Colo has been a resident of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in central Ohio since her birth and she celebrated her 59th birthday on Tuesday, 22 December. She is the oldest gorilla living in captivity on Earth, and she was also the first gorilla baby to be born under human care. Combined with the fact that she is decades past the mean life expectancy, Colo has proven she is one amazing gorilla who has earned the right to party. Read the rest of Happy 59th birthday to Colo, the world’s oldest captive gorilla

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This one simple cellphone trick could save enough CO2 to power Singapore for a year

November 25, 2015 by  
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The average mobile made this year produced 35 kg of carbon emissions to manufacture, equal to 16 weeks of laundry. Sound small? Consider that 1.9 billion mobiles will be sold in 2015, approximately 60 per second. Their total carbon footprint in manufacture is equal to Austria’s annual carbon footprint. All of us can help reduce the impact of mobiles with one simple step:  simply use them for longer. If we used every phone manufactured this year for only 1/3 longer, we could prevent carbon emissions equal to Singapore’s annual emissions. Read the rest of This one simple cellphone trick could save enough CO2 to power Singapore for a year

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Andrew Michler’s ‘[ours] Hyperlocalization of Architecture’ explores how sustainable architecture engages with its environment

October 26, 2015 by  
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What is the relationship between a building and its location, and what should that relationship be? Inhabitat writer , passive house consultant and author Andrew Michler  tackles that question with his new book: [ours] Hyperlocalization of Architecture: Contemporary Sustainable Archetypes . In the past, a building was imposed on the landscape, on it but not a part of it. Today, innovative architecture weaves into its environment and the people who live in it. In his book, Michler speaks with renowned architects to better understand this hyperlocalized architecture and how it is influencing today’s most forward-thinking, sustainable designs. + [ours] Hyperlocalization of Architecture

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Andrew Michler’s ‘[ours] Hyperlocalization of Architecture’ explores how sustainable architecture engages with its environment

How thousands of rough wooden logs protect this pavilion from solar radiation

July 22, 2015 by  
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Top 7 highlights of the Italian Pavilion at Venice Art Biennale 2015

July 22, 2015 by  
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