Biomimicry in Architecture: A Review of Definitions, Case Studies, and Design Methods
2.1. Development of the Word Biomimicry throughout History
2.2. Existing Terminology
2.2.1. Keywords in Research
2.2.2. Bibliometric Analysis
2.2.3. Biomimicry: Common Ground and Differences of Opinion among Scholars
2.3. Biomimicry in Architectural Design
3. Case Studies
4. Classifications and Design Methods for Biomimicry
4.1. Classification Systems for Biomimicry in Architecture
4.2. Design Methods for Biomimicry
4.2.1. General Design Methods for Biomimicry
4.2.2. Design Methods for Biomimicry in Architecture
Institutional Review Board Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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|Chayaamor-Heil and Hannachi-Belkadi : “(…) architects frequently use nature as a source for unconventional forms and for symbolic association. Nature is the ultimate in performance-orientated design so it is no wonder that attention should finally be paid to its processes. Rather than just symbolic or form, biomimetic architecture should be concerned more on aspects of how we process our design and what if our design could be a positive impact to the environment as a whole.”|
Cazzaro : “Form is the result of forces located inside the matter, as it also happens in the generation of a living organism. For this reason the discourse on the creation and graphic representation of these objects can be approached from the point of view of biomorphism, a feature that can be found in similar artefacts on several levels: from the figurativity of the glass animals to the almost abstract shape obtained from the self-organising matter through its intrinsic forces.”
Biomimicry Institute : “(…) designs that visually resemble elements from life (they “look like” nature)”
Bernett : “Biomorphism mimics natural forms and patterns. It is commonly critiqued for its lack of adherence to biological principles, resulting in designs that do not necessarily perform better or that are sustainable. However, the psychological aesthetic impacts of natural forms should not be overlooked.”
|The building looks like a flower.|
bio, from Greek ‘bios’ life  + morphism, “from Greek ‘mophos’ having the form of and ‘ismos’ state or condition” .
|Biomimetic(s)||Sharma and Sakar : “Interdisciplinary cooperation of biology and technology or other fields of innovation with the goal of solving practival problems through the function analysis of biological systems, their abstraction into models and the transfer into and application of these models to the solution.”|
Vincent et al. : “Biomimetics operates across the border between living and non-living systems. And (…) the reason for looking to nature for solutions is to enhance technical functions.”
Cruz et al. : “The main significant difference between ‘biomimetics’ and ‘biomimicry’ is that the approach referring to the latter tends to be specifically focused on developing sustainable solutions; the former does not have to fit that requirement. Like ‘biomimetics,’ ‘bioinspiration,’ defined as a ‘creative approach based on the observation of biological systems,’ (…) does not have to meet sustainable goals.”
DeLuca : “(…) refers to the technical translation and realization of functional strategies used by biological organisms or systems in Nature. The goal for biomimetics is to create incredibly novel radical technologies that outperform or even displace existing technologies and, in doing so, result in financial reward.”
ISO 18458:2015 : “interdisciplinary cooperation of biology and technology or other fields of innovation with the goal of solving practical problems through the function analysis of biological systems (…), their abstraction (…) into models (…), and the transfer into and application of these models to the solution”
|The building imitates a process of a flower.|
bio, from Greek ‘bios’ life  + mimetics, “representing or imitating something” .
|Bionic(s)||Vincent et al. : “(…) coined by Jack Steele (…). He defined it as the science of systems which have some function copied from nature, or which represent characteristics of natural systems or their analogues.”|
ISO 18458:2015 : “technical discipline that seeks to replicate, increase, or replace biological functions by their electronic and/or mechanical equivalents”
Marshall : “Bionics is a term invented (…) to describe the prospective field involving copying imitating and learning from Nature. Since then the term in English has become focused upon mimicking human tissues and organs for biomedical purposes (thus it might be thought contiguous with biomechanical engineering).”
|The building imitates a flower with an adapted (mechanical) technology.|
bio, from Greek ‘bios’ life  + nics, from technics [17,18].
|Ecomimicry/Ecomimesis||Bajaj : “Emulation of ecosystems in design”|
Marshall : “Ecomimicry is an innovation in innovation. It’s an as yet experimental technique to bring a Green quality to the process of innovation–so that novel technologies (and novel practices) can emerge in an ecofriendly manner with non-expert input. The broad idea is that the natural world may serve as inspiration for innovative ideas.”
Marshall : “Ecomimicry is the practice of designing socially responsive and environmental responsible technologies for a particular locale based upon the characteristics of animals, plants, and ecosystems of that locale.”
Winter et al. : “(…) we define ecomimicry as a strategy for developing and managing cultural landscapes, built upon a deep understanding of the structure and function of ecosystems, that harnesses ecosystem processes for the purpose of balancing and sustaining key ecosystem services, rather than maximizing one service (e.g., food production) to the detriment of others. Ecomimicry arises through novel, place-based innovations or is adopted from elsewhere and adapted to local conditions.”
|The building works like a local flower and integrates into the local ecosystem.|
eco, from Greek ‘ecos’ environment and man’s relation to it  + mimicry, “mimicry involves the deceptive imitation of social and political models in order to reach a certain aim” . In other words, pretending to imitate models to reach a goal. + mimesis, “mimesis captures endeavours to imitate well-established models of social and political organisation” . In other words, attempting at rightly imitating models. It is a way of thinking.
|Organic Design||Verma and Punekar : “Organic designs exhibit a very close resemblance with nature especially in terms of form and structure. Form giving for organic design is a special class of design problem that involves the use of inspiration and analogies from nature for creative problem-solving.”|
Champion : ““Organic architecture” is often taken to mean buildings constructed by reusable or biodegradable materials. Sometimes it is an accolade (or insult) for forms inspired by nature. A third way is to propose that architecture can be designed to coax engagement from its inhabitants, allowing them to appreciate the thought, design and care which created it.”
|The building looks like a flower and imitates a certain process.|
organic, “from Greek ‘organikos’ of or pertaining to an organ, serving as instruments or engines”  and design, from Latin ‘designare’ to make, shape .
|Keywords||Number of Publications|
|Animalia 1, Plantae 2, Other 3||Biomimicry, |
Development Harare, EDH, [54,56,57,58,59,60]
|Mick Pearce||Harare, |
|1996||Termite mounds 1||Thermal comfort, Air quality||Organic |
|Arab World Institute, AWI, [61,62,63,64,65,66]||Jean Nouvel||Paris, France||1987||Iris of the eye 1||Thermal and visual comfort||Bionics|
|Eden Project, EP, [57,60,67,68,69,70,71]||Grimshaw |
|Cornwall, UK||2001||Soap formation 3||Mechanical resistance, thermal comfort, water |
|Council House 2, CH2, [9,72,73,74,75,76]||Mick Pearce, Rob Adams||Melbourne, Australia||2006||Synergy of a plant/tree 2||Thermal and visual comfort, Air quality||Ecomimicry/Ecomimesis|
Temple, LT, [77,78]
|Fariburz Sahba||New Delhi,|
|1986||Lotus flower 2||Symbolic association||Biomorphism/Biomorphic|
|Esplanade Theatre, ET, [79,80]||Michael Wilford, DP Architects, James|
|Singapore, Singapore||2002||Sea urchin shells 2 Durian fruit 2||Thermal and visual comfort||Biomorphism/Biomorphic|
|One Ocean Building, OOB, [81,82,83]||soma||Yeosu, South|
|Thermal and visual comfort||Bionics|
|Gherkin Tower, GT, [84,85,86]||Foster + Partners||London, UK||2003||Venus flower basket sponge 2||Mechanical resistance||Bionics|
|Sahara Forest Project, SFH, [1,42,60,87,88]||Max Fordham CE, Exploration Architecture||Sahara Desert, Qatar, Tunisia, Jordan||2017||Namibian Desert Beetle 1||Water regulation||Ecomimicry/Ecomimesis; Bionics|
|Homeostatic Façade, HF, [11,57,89]||Martina Decker, Peter|
|New York City, USA||2012||Muscles 1||Thermal and |
|Cairo Gate Residence, CGR, [90,91,92]||Vincent Callebaut, Injaz Development, K+A Design||Cairo, Egypt||2019||Termite mounds 1||Thermal comfort||Vernomimicry;|
|Design Aspects of Biomimicry|
|ecosystem||Resembles an |
|Used the same material as in an ecosystem||Assembled similarly as an ecosystem, growing complexity over time|
|Works similarly as an ecosystem|
EP; CH2; SFP; CGR
|Functions similarly as an ecosystem|
|behaviour||Looks like it is made by an |
|Made from the same material an organism uses|
|Assembled in the same way an organism would|
|Works in the same way as the home of an |
EDH; OOB; CGR
|Functions in the same way as if an organism would have built it|
EDH; OOB; CGR
|organism||Looks like an organism|
|Made from the same material as an organism||Made in the same way as an organism|
ET; GT; HF
|Works in the same way as an organism|
|Functions in the same way as an organism|
|Targeted Performance: Architecture|
|Air Quality||Mechanical Resistance||Water |
|Inspiration from nature: biology||animalia||EDH; AWI; HF; CGR||AWI; HF||EDH||SFP|
|plantae||ET; CH2||ET; OOB; CH2||CH2||GT|
|fixed||AWI; LT; HF||OOB; GT; EDH; ET; EP||SFP||CH2; SFP|
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© 2023 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Verbrugghe, N.; Rubinacci, E.; Khan, A.Z. Biomimicry in Architecture: A Review of Definitions, Case Studies, and Design Methods. Biomimetics 2023, 8, 107. https://doi.org/10.3390/biomimetics8010107
Verbrugghe N, Rubinacci E, Khan AZ. Biomimicry in Architecture: A Review of Definitions, Case Studies, and Design Methods. Biomimetics. 2023; 8(1):107. https://doi.org/10.3390/biomimetics8010107Chicago/Turabian Style
Verbrugghe, Nathalie, Eleonora Rubinacci, and Ahmed Z. Khan. 2023. "Biomimicry in Architecture: A Review of Definitions, Case Studies, and Design Methods" Biomimetics 8, no. 1: 107. https://doi.org/10.3390/biomimetics8010107