Advanced Search

Please click here to take a brief survey

WC Book: Biomorphism
Sarah Rich, 30 Nov 05

Swiss%20Re.jpgYou may have heard about the little book we're working on over here. It's coming along swimmingly, and we're having a great time.

We're hoping you might contribute a suggestion or two for our section on biomorphism. We want to feature some of the greatest examples of design—architecture, textile, art or product—whose form is inspired by nature. Some examples we've mentioned in the past include the Gherkin (Swiss Re building), a chair inspired by a callalily, and a nautilus-shaped fan, but we know there countless others.

Send along whatever comes to mind. We look forward to seeing your ideas!

Bookmark and Share


If you like robotic insects the biorobot project at Case Western Reserve
is pretty cool. I love the video of the mini-wheg robot.

Posted by: jim moore on 30 Nov 05

velcro is one obvious one here... inspired by the humble burdock, as i recall... are you looking for something more specific or recent? perhaps it would be well to be more precise in terms of time period etc...

see e.g. this link for more on the velcro story.

-- hans

Posted by: hans samuelson on 30 Nov 05

How about the latest in insect repellent clothing:

The substance used in the clothing to repel the insects is derived from the chrysanthemum (No DEET!), and is good for up to 25 washes.

Posted by: Justin Minich on 30 Nov 05

I have heard skyscrapers structurally compared to large conifer trees, with the strong central elevator column representing the trunk or bole and the expansive flexible floors representing the branches. Peel away the skin and you're looking at a structural mimic of an old-growth Douglas fir. I am somewhat skeptical about whether such buildings are "world changing" in a positive sense. I guess they conserve limited realestate footprint, but they also facilitate a type of economic centralization that ain't pretty.

Posted by: Doug on 30 Nov 05

Are you familiar with the design strategies utlilised by Permaculture designers which are conceptually related to forms found in nature?

Permaculture design is becoming very important globally with over half a million people having completed a Permaculture Design Certificate course in over a hundred countries. check out these sites to find out more.

a definition
the Permaculture Institute

btw your site is excellent. Keep up your great work and thanks for all the info.

Posted by: Mark Moody on 1 Dec 05

In Guggenheim's Museum -Bilbao, Spain- you can find some architectural examples -not only from Frank Gehry

[sorry for the quality of the picture, I did it with a promo digital camera]

And in Santiago Calatrava's work many others.

I asume you are looking only for contemporary examples... In Spanish architectural and decorative tradition many biomorphism could be found even before romans...

Posted by: David on 1 Dec 05

Anything by Antoni Gaudi, the Barcelona architect.

Posted by: Lori LaVel Weston on 1 Dec 05

If you're interested in doing tree/skyscrapers, don't leave out the EDITT tower! Designed, but - as I understand - not yet built. Posted on WC, but the link is broken - go to:

Posted by: Justus on 1 Dec 05

Yeah, gaudi. Not his very first buildings, but most of his buildings & other structures: he took design lessons from nature - form & movement (air flow, warmth, play of light etc) and invented building technologies to achieve the desired designs. He even designed an organic industrial revolution era village within walking distance of a factory beside a river for comfortable community life - very enlightened for those times.

Not for form but utility: I think living machines - natural sewage treatment - is a great functional design concept

There are a few gherkin buildings about, btw.

Posted by: Sun Flower on 1 Dec 05

I think you need to clearly differentiate between what many of the comments are referring to which is Biomimicry-emulating natural functions (velcro, permaculture,etc.) and Biomorphism-emulating natural forms. Of course, these two ideas are interrelated, but you only mention biomorphism.
For biomimicry, look at the excellent book called Biomimicry, by Benyus I believe.

Posted by: Ints Luters on 1 Dec 05

Just a view hints: Gaudi, Rudolf Steiner, Hundertwasser, Frei Otto, Marcel Kalberer (and his "Sanfte Strukturen" - "soft structures"). Always enjoyable: Ernst Haeckel and his "Artforms in Nature". And just have a look on the magnicicent islamic architecture, sculpture, and art, esp. the highly sophisticated mosaics. (For the latter see e.g. the Alhambra in Grenada/Spain.)

Posted by: Konrad on 1 Dec 05

You should include the "Lotus Effect" which is the ability of the lotus leaf to self clean. The surface texture is composed in such a way as to cause water droplets to roll across it and gather dirt along the way. Synthetic coatings are being developed to emulate this effect. See and Lotusan a coating product for the exterior of buildings.

Posted by: Tom Nelson on 1 Dec 05

Check this out, it's quite intriquing...

This is quite a beautiful thing… Architect Alisa Andrasek's Genware is a software system that can convert dynamic sound patterns into structural fields to produce complex surfaces at various scales. More information about Genware is available at her research group Biothing's website >

Genware: Algorithmic Library is a software program that uses differential mathematics to produce repetitive patterns with subtle variations that can be applied to architecture and industrial design.

Alisa Andrasek is the winner of Metropolis Magazine’s 2005 Next Generation Award. This is a nice link, with a thorough description of her beliefs and process:

Please let me know if this is helpful to you, I'd love to know!

Posted by: James Bucknam on 1 Dec 05

There are a bunch of these.

Cambered airfoils modeled on bird wings (Frederick Lanchester)

Change in shape of aircraft wings to turn, also modeled on bird wings (Wright brothers)

Wood pulp for paper modeled on wasps' technique (Rene Antoine Reamur)

Extruded textile fabrics (rayon, etc) modeled on silkworms' technique (Hilaire du Chardonnet)

Telephone transducers modeled on eardrums (Alexander Graham Bell)

Barbed wired modeled on the Osage orange (Michael Kelly)

Chain saw cutters modeled on the mandibles of wood-boring beetles (Joseph Cox)

Velcro modeled on cocklebur or burdock (Georges de Mestral)

These examples come from "Cats' Paws and Catapults: Mechanical Worlds of Nature and People" by Steven Vogel. It is a much-needed skeptical view of biomimicry in this day of bio-romance. He points out, through numerous examples and a long historical analysis, that Nature gives us excellent guidance about what is possible, but in the end rarely shows us the exact solution for our human purposes.

In other words, Nature is an inspiration, not something to be "mimicked." I found the book quite interesting.

Posted by: Kim on 1 Dec 05

Saw Chuck Hoberman talk about his continuing work in transformative architecture. His iris curtain for the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics was quite amazing.

The Eden Project's complex of domes in the UK looks like a froth of bubbles.

The use of genetic algorithms in the development of designs of all kinds may be a meta-level example of biomimicry.

Posted by: gmoke on 1 Dec 05

The V&A Zoomorphic exhibition that ran a few years ago still has its website around:

Posted by: Adam Burke on 1 Dec 05

'The Core,' a massive solar structure at The Eden Project which just recently unveiled, supposedly mimics the Fibonacci sequence. check it out.

Posted by: Bryan Finoki on 1 Dec 05

I love your blog! Just coool !
Attaboy! Good luck !
Alex Sanekopolidis

Posted by: buycialis on 12 Dec 05



MESSAGE (optional):

Search Worldchanging

Worldchanging Newsletter Get good news for a change —
Click here to sign up!


Website Design by Eben Design | Logo Design by Egg Hosting | Hosted by Amazon AWS | Problems with the site? Send email to tech /at/
Architecture for Humanity - all rights reserved except where otherwise indicated.

Find_us_on_facebook_badge.gif twitter-logo.jpg