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• Species of living organisms have typically been evolving for millions of years. 
• Those organisms that remain on Earth now have the survival mechanisms that have withstood and adapted to constant changes over time. 
• On the organism level, the architecture looks to the organism itself, applying its form and/or functions to a building. 
• Functions and responses to a larger context have to be kept in mind too, as organisms are a part of an ecosystem.


• Mimicking of the Namibian desert beetle, stenocardia. 

• The beetle lives in a desert with negligible rainfall. 

• It is able to capture moisture however from the swift-moving fog that moves over the desert by tilting its body into the wind. 

• Matthew Parkes of KSS Architects’ biomimicry at the organism level. 

• Inspired by the beetle, proposed fog-catcher design for the Hydrological Center for the University of Namibia. 

• Surface of the beetle has been studied and mimicked to be used for other potential applications such as to clear fog from airport runways and improve dehumidification equipment.


• Buildings mimic how an organism behaves or relates to its larger context. 
• On the level of the ecosystem, a building mimics the natural process and cycle of the greater environment. 
• Not the organism itself that is mimicked, but its behavior. 
• Behavior level mimicry requires ethical decisions to be made about the suitability of what is being mimicked for the human context. 
• Not all organisms exhibit behaviors that are suitable for humans to mimic 
• The danger exists that models of consumption or exploitation could be justified on the basis of how another species behaves. 
• For example, mimicking the building behavior (and outcome of that) of termites might be appropriate for the creation of passively regulated thermally comfortable buildings. 
• But, mimicking the social structure of termite colonies would not be suitable however if universal human rights are valued.

• Large office and shopping-complexin Harare, Zimbabwe.

• To minimize potential costs of regulating the building’s inner temperature looked to the self- cooling mounds of African termites.

• The building has no air-conditioning or heating.

• The structure, however, does not have to look like a termite mound to function like one and instead aesthetically draws from indigenous Zimbabwean masonry.

Termite mounds include flues which vent through the top and sides, and the mound itself is designed to catch the breeze. As the wind blows, hot air from the main chambers below ground is drawn out of the structure, helped by termites opening or blocking tunnels to control airflow.


• Uses the cactus’s relationship to its environment as a model for building in the desert.
• The functional processes silently at work are inspired by the way cacti sustain themselves in a dry, scorching climate.
• Sunshades on the windows open and close in response to heat, just as the cactus undergoes transpiration at night rather than during the day to retain water.
• The project reaches out to the ecosystem level in its adjoining botanical dome whose wastewater
management system follows processes that conserve water and has minimum waste outputs.


• Building mimics the natural process and cycle of the greater environment.
• Ecosystem principles follow that ecosystems
(1) are dependent on contemporary sunlight;
(2) optimize the system rather than its components;
(3) are attuned to and dependent on local conditions;
(4) are diverse in components, relationships and information;
(5) create conditions favorable to sustained life; and
(6) adapt and evolve at different levels and at different rates.
Essentially, this means that a number of components and processes make up an ecosystem and they must work with each other rather than against in order for the ecosystem to run smoothly.
ADVANTAGE-potential positive effects on overall environmental performance.
• Operates at both metaphoric levels and at a practical functional level.
• METAPHORIC LEVEL - general ecosystem principles (based on how most ecosystems work) are able to be applied by designers with little specific ecological knowledge.
• FUNCTIONAL LEVEL - in-depth understanding of ecology drives the design of a built environment that is able to participate in the major biogeochemical material cycles of the planet.



• The 8000-acre city planned for a region of India subject to monsoon flooding.
• Site’s original ecosystem was a moist deciduous forest before it had become an arid landscape.
• In response to the season flooding, the building foundations were designed to store water like the former trees did.
• City rooftops mimic the banyan fig leaf looking to its drip-tip system that allows water to run off while
simultaneously cleaning its surface.
• The strategy to move excess water through channels is borrowed from local harvester ants, which use multi-path channels to divert water away from their nests.


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