The book of the mimicry of the living


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This story about the ‘Squid-inspired’ skyscraper has been in the news recently (well, the biomimetic news). “It’s a skyscraper, but its’s a squid too!”, “It won the architizer A+ competition”, “Biomimicry #YOLO” but please, can we just… not?1723e502a27b316085f41f0f38042c3c598292f63e69ebb4b7c937ee0b7421e3 The design, Biotic-Tech Skyscraper City by GPT Architecture, is not flawed in itself. Rain-water harvesting? Great. Swishy photo-voltaic shading umbrellas?  O.K. … Micro-wind generators based on a flexible unspecified polymer? Woah, slow down… Well, maybe it has it’s own flaws in terms of basis in reality, but that’s secondary (and traditional for architects it seems). What’s getting my goat at the moment is the claims of ‘Biomimicry’. Biomimicry has been defined and refined a number of times, though my favourite is Michael Pawlyns definition in his book “Biomimicry in Architecture”

“mimicking the functional basis of biological forms, processes and systems to produce sustainable solutions”

Is this building actually examining existing natural features, and implementing them to create a better building? I don’t think so. Follow through though, and make up your own mind.

The Fluff

In the last week a number of publications have picked up the story, and so I’ve compiled a list of supposed biomimetic inspirations

  1. Transparency
  2. Flexibility + Movement
  3. Protective Pigmentation

And the features of the building

  1. Rain water harvesting
  2. Photovoltaic energy generation via climate responsive shading umbrellas
  3. Micro-wind generation via flexible building fabric
  4. Stack-effect and buoyant ventilation via large central chimney
  5. “Sky garden” (because roof garden was obviously not cool enough)
  6. and something about transportation

I’m going to see if I can track down some honest to Darwin biomimicry in this.


Author: davergp

Environmental Geoscience BSc. Environmental Design of Buildings MSc. Bonsai Hobbyist, Woodland Enthusiast, Environ-mentalist.

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