Architecture + biology2 [sneak preview]: process

The previous post was about architectural form as it is inspired by nature.  Following are a tiny sample of some examples of biological processes as applied to architecture.


Heinz Insler and Frei Otto are two architects who did extensive research on the natural laws of physics as related to thin shell concrete structures and tensile structures, respectively.

Their early work and research is reflected in today’s contemporary architecture, like in PTW and Arup’s Watercube for the Beijing Olympics in 2008, which was based on research into soap bubbles by two physists Robert Phelan and Denis Weaire.  Today, the building is, appropriately, a water park.

Metabolism in architecture was a movement that started in the 1960s in Japan.  Drawing on the root of the word, the Greek METABOLE, which simply means “change,” Metabolic architects conceived of large scale projects that could (theoretically) expand, shrink, and grow over time, recalling growth processes in nature.

The Pompidue Center in Paris is a building whose systems are displayed on its outside, defining its form.

The Water Theater is an unbuilt project by Grimshaw Architects who drew inspiration from the Namibian fog-basking beetle who gathers water in the desert, to design a building that could gather water from the atmosphere.

Norman Foster‘s “Gherkin” in London has been compared to the Venus Flower Basket Sponge which has a similar structure that both reduces stresses and enables an open atrium to provide natural ventilation.

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