Biology as the Influencer of Architecture
If you take the time to walk outside and look a little closer at nature you will begin to realise that there is a degree of symmetry in what seems like chaos.
Take for example the ‘Dracena reflexa’ plant, or ‘Song of India’ as it is known. This is a shrub that is currently growing in many backyards across Queensland, it is a favorite because of its vibrant greens.
A few observations:
1. The way in which this plant caters for structural issues is by increasing the density of matter near the core and then transferring it diagonally down through to the beneath section, a simple yet very effective load-bearing mechanism.
2. The thinning out of the leaf as it cantilevers towards the outer edge means there is greater opportunity for sunlight and is obviously why each component is staggers slightly from the one above.
In previous blogs I have talked about the power of using nature to inspire design – Biomimicry. This multiple dwelling unit complex attempts to do just that. The main load-bearing element is the circular fire stair and lift well. Like the 'Song of India' plant itself, this design offers the opportunity to both brace and cantilever out each floor plan which comprises of two horizontal tear drop wings. These are then connected via a perimeter stair that allows for perspective and transition, public space (the upper level) to roof garden (the middle ground) and then roof garden to the internal private level (the lower level). As each unit staggers around the core it offers an unobstructed view while at the same time maximising privacy, please see the above floor plans.
In my mind there are two approaches to the implementation of biological influences into architecture.
1. Biological research that creates new physical building materials. This requires major R&D and the collaboration with biologists and other consultants. For example, the work of architect Mitchell Joachim where he and his team use the integration of biology to literally producing houses that are grown rather than built, amazing!
2. Form that takes its influence from the efficiencies found in nature. For example Rem Koolhass’s CCTV building in China which uses structure in the same way a tree caters for molecular density. This model adopts principles of assembly from nature rather than physical biology as structure.
Both of these approaches produce very interesting results. Our design is definitely well within the realm of example 2 as it does take a lot more resource and time to head in directions like Mitchell Joachim. Having said this, I firmly believe that as time goes on we will begin to see more and more examples emerge where biology in its literal form influences the way we occupy space. Please see some more links below for examples. Enjoy!