What we Need to Learn from Nature

Julian Vincent, Professor of Biomimetics at the University of Bath, and a team of researchers wrote a paper in 2005 titled; “Biomimetics: its practice and theory”. It’s one of the earlier papers that really began to put biomimetics into context from a critical and pragmatic engineering sense. I have been dying to put this in a post, but there are so many different ways of approaching the content that I’ve been running around in circles. So let me get to the punch line and work my way back from there.

Here are two superb diagrams – cue sesame street music – can you spot the differences?:

Copyright © 2006 The Royal Society - A diagram of Engineering approaches to solving problems at an array of scales.

Copyright © 2006 The Royal Society - A diagram of Natural approaches to solving problems at an array of scales.

Noticed the big differences?

Information vs Energy

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Scenario C: The Grown – A Biomimicry World

Scenarios of Sustainability

Warning: the following will include an excessive use of question marks, as answers are far beyond me in the current scenario.

What if the world of the manufactured became the world of the grown? How literal should this future be?

Image by Steve Kinderman-AP - How comfortable will we be with a fully integrated urban ecology?

Do we want our indoors to be the same as the outdoors? What if hardwood floors and stark white walls were replaced by soft grass and flaking bark? How do we deal with the germ-o-phobia and fear of creepy crawlies inherent in the wild? Predators are a sign of a healthy ecosystem, would a healthy urban ecology be able to support larger predators, when we already struggle with accommodating pigeons and raccoons?

I’m very curious to know if these questions are currently being pursued by the true visionaries of sustainability, biomimicry, ecological design and any other label for innovation inspired by nature. There may well be some of us that wish to return to a life connected to nature and who want to see nature physically integrated into our daily lives. But the vast majority are likely happy with this inclusion being limited to the tame confines of a green wall, internal garden or meditational pond, and would like their desk free of dirt, and with blinds over the windows to prevent glare on their computer screens.

So, then, what IS the vision of a biomimicry future?

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