Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Monday, December 01, 2008


We must draw our standards from the natural world. We must honor with the humility of the wise the bounds of that natural world and the mystery which lies beyond them, admitting that there is something in the order of being which evidently exceeds all our competence.
--Vaclav Havel, former president of the Czech Republic--

Janine Benyus, the author of Biomimicry Innovation Inspired by Nature, introduced a new term that will change our perspective in how to see the nature. Biomimicry Revolution, a term what Ms. Benyus called, establish a new approach not on what we can extract from nature, but emphasize more on what we can learn from her.

Biomimicry takes its name from the greek words ‘bios’, meaning life and ‘mimesis’, meaning to imitate. So Biomimicry is all actions to learn and imitate nature’s designs to solve all challenges in human life. The genius solutions that we’ve been seeking are widespread in this planet, not only in indigenous people who live far away in remote area but also in the species that have lived on Earth far longer than us. They could teach us how to fly, circumnavigate the globe, live in the depth of the ocean and atop of the highest peaks, craft miracle materials, light up the night, catching the sun’s energy, and build a self-reflective brain. In short, living things have done everything we want to do and also can teach us how to survive on this planet without destroying its’ future. As a champion of Biomimicry, Janine Benyus become one of the most important voices in a new wave of designers and engineers inspired by nature (

Biomimicry allows innovators and problem solvers of all kinds to create more intelligent and sustainable design through the emulation of nature. Designers and architects are poised to benefit greatly from the integration of biomimicry in their design process.

In architecture field, we could find many answers for our designs from nature. When we take a look seriously into nature and observe it very well, we’ll realize that all our inventions have already appeared in a more elegant form and at a lot less cost to the planet. We’ll found struts and beams construction are already featured in lily pads and bamboo stems. Our central heating and air conditioning are inspired by the termite tower’s steady at 86 degree F.
Arup Architecture firm designed an office complex named Eastgate Centre project in Harare, Zimbabwe imitating the structure of a termite mound. The main reason why they choose this model is because of their ability to self-cool. When most of the energy used in building is for heating and cooling, finding sustainable ways to regulate temperature is important. This particular building was able to minimize its heating and cooling energy by 90% when compared to building of its size.

On the other hand, a scientist named Wilhelm Barthlott was doing a biology research when he became interested in Lotus. He found out this certain leaf species has ability to remain free of contaminants without using detergent. In his further research, he discovered these leaves possess a field of small bumps and waxy crystals which force water to ball up. These bumps will raise up dirt molecules so the water drop could picked them up easily. Along with his colleagues, Wilhelm Barthlott began developing this to products such as exterior paint. They called this effect as The Lotus effect and could be applied in new materials such as textiles, wood, and glass.

The Biomimicry Revolution will be an answer for the recent and future condition when human have reached the limits of nature’s tolerance. We are hungry for seeking new solutions about how to live sanely and sustainably on this planet. But the most important is, after we learn and found out what nature already knows, try to be a part of, not apart from, the local wisdom that live surround us.

I quote these principles which Janine Benyus resonates in her book that divine a canon of nature’s laws:
Nature runs on sunlight.
Nature uses only the energy it needs.
Nature fits form to function.
Nature recycles anything.
Nature rewards cooperation.
Nature banks on diversity.
Nature demands local expertise.
Nature curbs excesses from within.
Nature taps the power of limits.

After I finished reading Ms. Benyus’ book, there’s a strange feeling inside that suddenly remind me on many Rabindranath Tagore’s beautiful aphorisms which articulate how living things around us are very meaningful and could teach about life wisely. For further information on how nature can inspired designers to solve human problems, click this link

Let the living lesson begin.
--Cahyo Candrawan--