Evaluating the Uptake of Biomimicry Towards More Sustainable Cities

Author: Jackson Tuohy

Tuohy, Jackson, 2017 Evaluating the Uptake of Biomimicry Towards More Sustainable Cities, Flinders University, School of the Environment

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There are various concepts that address the vast proportion of materials, waste and energy use attributed to the built environment, which exacerbate the effects of climate change. One such concept is known as ‘Biomimicry’, the emulation of the natural world and application to human problems. Biomimetic Architecture is the application of natural models/systems to the built environment. This involves mimicking the functioning of an ecosystem or a specific trait of an organism. This thesis investigates why biomimicry is not popular or widespread despite its solution to unsustainable design and development.

Here I show that although biomimicry is viewed as a viable alternative to conventional architecture, the widespread application and uptake of biomimicry is thwarted by a number of barriers and knowledge gaps, namely a lack of educational offerings for professionals and knowledge of biomimicry by design firms. Means of overcoming these barriers and knowledge gaps is discussed.

The most significant outcome of this study was the development of a novel framework for assessing biomimetic architecture, as previously no such framework existed. Four case studies were selected for evaluation against the presence/absence of key biomimetic elements within the framework. The application of this framework yielded several key findings. Most importantly, it was found that biomimetic buildings represent much more resource efficient and sustainable alternatives to traditional buildings. Although much literature supports this finding, none has done so in such a systematic way. My results demonstrate that biomimetic architecture can lead to a more sustainable and resource efficient built world.

I anticipate that my findings concerning the number of biomimetic courses and degrees available to professionals and the number of design firms incorporating biomimicry into their design process, will provide a starting point for the evaluation of biomimetic professional offerings. Similarly, it is expected that the development of the framework will allow for the assessment of future supposed biomimetic architectural sites and encourage discussion on evaluating the sustainability of the built world and cities.

Keywords: Biomimicry, climate change, biomimetics, architecture, biomimetic architecture

Subject: Environmental Science thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2017
School: School of the Environment
Supervisor: Beverley Clarke