Using Biomimicry to Rethink the “Wall” – Design Project

Lauren Dynes: sketches of the design context, what is a wood frame wall?

Lauren Dynes, who is now doing her Masters of Architecture in Calgary, explored the redesign of the internal wall for her biomimicry project. It might sound dry to some of you, but the wall was an interesting choice because of how fundamentally unchanged and standardized it is as both a concept and a product. When we think of walls, flat white surfaces generally come to mind, along with drywall and studs, bricks and mortar or maybe concrete.

When we compare the subdivisions of space within architecture to similar metaphors in biology it is clear that our designs lack the multifuncional complexity as the membranes that occur within nature.

Bridging Design to Biology

The above design spiral is the methodology we structured this project around, which will explain the key titles Lauren uses in her images. Note: that the design spiral I use has slightly different language than those you may have seen at other workshops.

For this project the first stage of the design process was articulating an understanding of the design challenge and translating observations into questions of nature. The core challenges at this stage being;

  • What are the core challenges or opportunities within the design project? (IDENTIFY)
  • How to start researching natural models. (TRANSLATE)

For those of you that are yet to try this process it can be very tricky trying to word open ended and yet specific questions of both design and nature.

Image by Lauren Dynes: We asked the students to identify 5 core challenges or opportunities they saw in their project, and translate those to "biologized" questions.


Image by Lauren Dynes: note that some of the questions sound broad and naive, we are deliberately challenging the students to ask open ended questions...

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