Symposium: Biomimicry In Architecture and Urbanism

On the 24th of May, VIA and AnArchi organised a symposium with the subject of Biomimicry. At the faculty, not a lot attention is paid to biomimicry in the disciplines of urbanism and architecture. To shed some light on this interesting topic, three speakers told us about their work and how it related to the subjects taught at our faculty. The afternoon was hosted by Jacob Voorthuis, who partly did his thesis on architecture and nature.

Lydia Fraaije was the one to kick off the first lecture. She broadly introduced us to the topic of Biomimicry and how she applied it in her work with BiomimicryNL and her office FRAAI architecten. By starting her lecture on the key principles of biomimicry and stating that nature does not need us, she got our attention right away. There are several ways to implement biomimicry into nature. Lydia showed us how she applied it with the example of a pop-up ecovilla in Togo. She designed a sustainable plan for the site together with BRO and used biophilia in the interior design. The site specific elements were used to create shading, implement green and ventilate the building in a natural way. She concluded her lecture showing that even in her own office, biophilia is applied.

After Lydia Fraaije, Rob van der Bijl showed us the principles of Biomimicry in urbanism. He stated that actually, nature does not plan. Therefore, urbanism as we know it could not be applied by using the biomimicry method. His office Fava, derived from the fava bean, does not do much urban planning, but really tries to let the problem solve itself, as nature does. By handing the start of a process and guiding it far enough, something great can be made of a bad situation that not only lasts, but can even strengthen itself without help of Rob and his colleagues.

At last, Boris Zeisser showed some examples of how his office designs with biomimicry in mind. His works show that biomimicry can be applied as simple as taking nature as a concept or as a starting point. The shape of a building can also mimic nature, while not applying very low-tech solutions as some animals do. Several beautiful works have been constructed over the years, ranging from termite hills to large manta’s.

After each speaker had given us his or her story, it was time for questions and discussions. It seemed that biomimicry in architecture and urbanism was at its beginning, while at the same time it already existed for centuries. Furthermore, we have to be careful on what to call biomimicry, as the danger is lurking to use it for marketing purposes as is currently happening with the word sustainable. With everybody wondering what biomimicry would mean for them we went to the SkyBar! to extend the discussion while enjoying a cold beer and snacks.