PhD Oral Defense of Mercedes Garcia Holguera, Bioresource Engineering
The practice of biomimetic design, defined as the application of biologically inspired design for the advancement of technology, is ancient; however, the organization of the field as a scientific discipline is recent and ongoing. For example, biomimetic design was present in Leonardo DaVinci’s drawings of flying machines based on the observation of birds’ flight in the fifteenth century, an in 1955 when George de Mestral patented the Velcro after studying how burrs attached to his dog’s fur. One thing these two examples have in common, beyond the emulation of nature, is their spontaneity or lack of structured methodology that led to their use. In the past two decades, more disciplines are embracing biomimetic approaches as a successful way to stimulate innovation in their fields, one of these disciplines is architecture. Biologically inspired design in architecture has, in addition, the potential to address present anthropogenic environmental challenges, some of which are directly or indirectly caused by the built environment. In this context, nature is perceived as a vast database of design solutions from which to learn and obtain inspiration. However, systematic methods for accessing nature’s designs and successfully transferring them into architectural objects are still incipient. Reliable and reproducible methods are fundamental for the dissemination of biomimetic design in professional and academic environments and constitute the cornerstone to building the discipline of biomimetic architecture.
In order to address this gap, this thesis presents a novel ecosystem-based method for biomimetic design in architecture, the ecomimetic method. Biologically inspired design can mimic one organism and its parts or the behavior of a group of organisms, but it is also possible to mimic the multiple and complex interactions that occur in ecological systems.