Using Nature’s Genius in Architecture

Michael Pawlyn: “You could look at nature as being like a catalog of products, and all of those have benefited from a 3.8-billion-year research and development period. And given that level of investment, it makes sense to use it. So I’m going to talk about some projects that have explored these ideas. And let’s start with radical increases in resource efficiency. When we were working on the Eden Project, we had to create a very large greenhouse in a site that was not only irregular, but it was continually changing because it was still being quarried. It was a hell of a challenge, and it was actually examples from biology that provided a lot of the clues. So for instance, it was soap bubbles that helped us generate a building form that would work regardless of the final ground levels. Studying pollen grains and radiolaria and carbon molecules helped us devise the most efficient structural solution using hexagons and pentagons.”

Sahara Forest Project: Pioneering scheme to turn desert back into green, profitable land trialed in Qatar
Sahara Forest Project: Pioneering scheme to turn desert back into green, profitable land trialed in Qatar

Image source: CNN
Ted Talks

5 thoughts on “Using Nature’s Genius in Architecture”

  1. There is a far FAR FAR more practical project for reversing desertification.

    The EDEN Foundation in Niger run by the Garvi Family.

    They are making a huge difference in Niger, the poorest country in the world, and doing it in one of the most destitute areas.

    Their solution? They are continuously researching the natural already climate adapted trees and shrubs that provide human food for the area. They only choose plant that require ZERO irrigation and no special greenhouses. Just plant the seeds properly, and they will grow in the desert. They are teaching Farmers on the edge of the Sahara to plant edible trees and bushes that they can use for food allowing the local population to adapt their natural resources into their local culture.

    I encourage a blog post about their efforts. If you want to be amazingly inspired. Check out their MULTIGENERATIONAL research and education efforts transforming the lives of poor farmers.

    Eden Foundation:

    Esther Garvi’s incredibly inspirational personal blog:

    Know what else? They used the local building techniques to construct the buildings at their Field Station (where they grow test plants in the extreme natural environment of the Sahel) using local adobe.

  2. Yes, very inspiring! For years I have yearned for the breakthru that would bring a Tesla type “free” energy to the world–every mom and pop in the most passed by country could just stick an ariel in the air and draw in the free energy. Then one day, I realized that, in different form, such may have quietly already arrived! As Michael Pawlyn points out, the sun gives off WAY more energy than we humans use. Solar energy collectors get more efficient and cheaper–we may be but a few steps away from decentralized, on-site, equal access energy, that would be free after installation of banks of solar collectors. Maybe we should just teach each human how to assemble, install and connect inveters to solar collectors. Pretty close to free energy for life!

    • There are numerous new solar energy developments that significantly enhance their performance. This truly is an interesting and exciting time.


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