Biomimicry - Development of Sustainable Design

9 years 2.4K Views
Biomimicry - A new paradigm in sustainable design

Most people now accept the case for sustainability and many wonder how the debate will move forward over the next few decades. Some commentators have asserted that biomimicry will be one of the main design tools that facilitate the shift from the industrial age to the ecological age of mankind. This rapidly emerging discipline draws on a sourcebook of solutions that have benefitted from a 3.8 billion year research and development period.

In this talk Michael Pawlyn will outline what biomimicry is as a design discipline and then describe a number of projects that illustrate what can be achieved by using biological adaptations as a source of inspiration. He will present a new concept for an office building, a radical design for a data centre that uses a fraction of the energy of conventional approaches and the ambitious Sahara Forest Project. The last of these is a scheme that brings together a cluster of synergistic technologies in desert areas and offers the potential to grow crops in some of the most water-stressed parts of the world while generating clean energy and reversing desertification.


Michael Pawlyn has been described as a pioneer of biomimicry and established Exploration Architecture in 2007 to focus exclusively on this emerging discipline. In 2008 the company was short-listed for the Young Architect of the Year Award and the internationally renowned Buckminster Fuller Challenge. He jointly initiated the Sahara Forest Project and is a Founding Partner of Sahara Forest Project AS – a company established to deliver concrete initiatives for restorative growth

Prior to setting up Exploration Michael Pawlyn worked with Grimshaw for ten years and was central to the team that radically re-invented horticultural architecture for the Eden Project. He was responsible for leading the design of the Warm Temperate and Humid Tropics Biomes and the subsequent phases that included proposals for a third Biome for plants from dry tropical regions.

He has lectured widely on the subject of sustainable design in the UK and abroad and in May 2005 delivered a talk at the Royal Society of Arts with Ray Anderson, CEO of Interface. In 2007 Michael Pawlyn delivered a talk at Google’s annual ‘Zeitgeist’ conference and, in 2011, became one of only a small handful of architects to have a talk posted on TED .com. His TED talk has since had over a million viewings. In the same year, his book Biomimicry in Architecture was published by the Royal Institute of British Architects. Exploration is currently working on a range of biomimicry-based architectural projects and a book commissioned by TED.