Biomimicry: Learning from Nature’s Perfection

Galyna Bozhok
7 min readMar 8


Throughout the ages, mankind has looked to nature for inspiration when constructing objects, machines, and buildings. The remarkable achievements of living beings have always been recognized, and humans have endeavored to replicate them for their own benefit.

Today, we have the ability to take this practice to a new level of understanding. With an awareness of the 3.8 billion years of evolution that have led to the intricate and ingenious solutions found in the natural world, we can tap into a vast laboratory of experimentation.

This is the goal of biomimicry — a process of designing and creating by observing and learning from the solutions nature has already perfected. By harnessing the power of biomimicry, we can continue to push the boundaries of what is possible and create a more sustainable and harmonious relationship with the natural world.

Tonkin Liu: Pushing Boundaries with Nature-inspired Architecture

Tonkin Liu’s Shell Lace Stent is a tracheal stent, which is commonly used to support transplants of the trachea and to treat collapsed airways in instances of throat cancer, trauma, and for the elderly. Patented, 2021. Source: Tonkin Liu

The Tonkin Liu architecture studio is renowned for its designs that seamlessly blend strength with elegance, taking inspiration from the intricate shells of molluscs. The studio’s unique approach allows for the creation of structures that can range in size from a towering skyscraper to a tiny stent — a medical device used to open up arteries and other pathways in the body. At the heart of this remarkable versatility lies a focus on scale — the ability to apply the same principles of strength and durability to structures of vastly different sizes.

Tonkin Liu’s Tower of Light is a 40-metre tall tower supporting and enclosing flues for a new low-carbon energy centre in Manchester’s City Centre. Completed, 2022. Source: Tonkin Liu

In collaboration with London Natural History Museum, Tonkin Liu has pioneered a technique for creating architectural structures that are both exceptionally thin and incredibly strong. Drawing inspiration from the elemental processes of mollusc shell formation, the resulting designs are lightweight, visually stunning, and incredibly functional.

One standout example of this biomimetic approach is the Tower of Light — a towering 40-meter structure that encloses flues for a new low-carbon energy center in the heart of Manchester. By learning from the geometries found in nature, the tower’s form becomes its strength — a super-light, super-thin single-surface structure that achieves the most using the least amount of material.

Tonkin Liu’s Swing Bridge in Crystal Palace Park in London. Source: Architect’s Journal

In another display of their ingenuity, the Tonkin Liu studio has taken inspiration from the bony fish to create a stunning rotating bridge leading to the dinosaur island of the Crystal Palace in London. By harnessing the optimal distribution of forces found in the deck and railings of the fish, Tonkin Liu has designed an ultra-light structure that is supported by a rotatory central axis.

Tonkin Liu’s Paddington Willow Pavillion Project. Source: Tonkin Liu

Tonkin Liu also prepared a design for the Paddington Pavilion in London that draws inspiration from the organic shapes and patterns found in nature. The interlocking branches of a tree are reflected in the pavilion’s curved, branched wooden beams, which not only support the structure but also create a visually striking perforated ceiling. The result is a space that seamlessly blends natural forms and modern design, inviting visitors to experience the beauty and serenity of a forest canopy.

Building with the Ocean: Exploration Architecture’s Vision for Sustainable Design

Exploration Architecture, led by architect Michael Pawlyn, is exploring the potential for the future of architecture to be inspired by the depths of the ocean. Their innovative projects take cues from the intricate forms found in sea sponges and the delicate skeletons of plankton. Pawlyn is a passionate advocate for sustainable solutions, and believes that the key to creating truly sustainable structures is to work in harmony with the natural world.

Exploration Architecture’s Biorock Pavillion Project. Source: Exploration Architecture

Exploration Architecture’s Biorock Pavilion is a daring project that stands out for its unconventional construction process. The pavilion’s steel structure is submerged in seawater and exposed to electric current, which causes a natural process to occur. Every year, 25mm of calcium carbonate are formed on the metal structure, trapping CO2 from the ocean and aiding in the battle against climate change.

Exploration Architecture’s Biomimetic Office Building Project. Source: Concepts & Projects, Exploration Architecture

In another project named the Office Building, Exploration Architecture adopted a biomimetic strategy that incorporates the most efficient features of over 100 living organisms. The aim was to reduce the building’s negative impact, particularly in terms of resource and energy consumption, and to create a self-sustaining workplace for heating, cooling, ventilation, and lighting. The end result is a structure that not only consumes minimal energy, but also generates its own energy surplus.

Termite-inspired Architecture: Mick Pearce’s Innovative Building Design for Natural Cooling in Harare

East Gate Building in Harare, Zimbabwe. Source: Mick Pearce

Termites are known for their impressive architectural skills, building towering mounds that regulate the temperature of their colony with incredible efficiency. Inspired by these tiny builders, architect Mick Pearce designed the East Gate building in Harare, Zimbabwe, which stays cool in a tropical climate without relying on energy-intensive air-conditioning.

Using a mix of bricks and concrete, the building is designed to absorb heat without letting the interior temperature rise. Pearce also incorporated small windows to reduce the amount of heat absorbed from the outside, while overhangs provide shade and vegetation adds a touch of natural cooling.

To achieve a stable and cool interior, Pearce devised a system of cool air entering from below, aided by fans during the cooler hours of the day. As the temperature rises, the warm air escapes through central chimneys.

Pearce’s innovative design is a testament to the power of nature-inspired architecture and the possibilities that can be achieved when we look to the natural world for inspiration.

Gaudi’s Organic Architecture and Modernism

Casa Batllo. Source: Stir

Antonio Gaudi (1852–1926), a renowned Spanish architect, once prophesied that the future of architecture would be guided by nature. He believed that nature was the most logical, long-lasting, and cost-effective method of construction. He was an advocate for sustainability in architecture and worked tirelessly to optimize the structural and bioclimatic design of his buildings. Gaudi utilized locally-sourced stones and recycled waste materials to reduce the environmental impact of his projects. His signature organic style was inspired by the shapes and patterns found in nature, making his buildings stand out as unique and harmonious structures within their surroundings.

Frei Otto’s Revolutionary Lightweight Structures

Frei Otto. Source: Metalocus. Frei Otto’s Olympic Stadium for the 1972 Munich Games. Photograph: Ian Walton/Getty Images

The architect and professor Frei Otto (1925–2015) was a true innovator in the field of lightweight structures and mesh design. His groundbreaking work on the stadium built for the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany, redefined what was possible in the field of architecture. The stadium’s stunning roof, composed of large plexiglass canopies suspended from cables, appears to hover above the sports venues like a delicate spider’s web. Drawing inspiration from the natural world, Frei Otto was constantly experimenting with new techniques and materials in his quest to create open spaces using as little material as possible.

The Kingfisher’s Beak for Streamlined Train Efficiency

Eiji Nakatsu next to 500 Series Shinkansen Train. Source: California State University Channel Islands

When high-speed trains enter tunnels, they can produce a loud sonic boom at the other end. To tackle this issue, Eiji Nakatsu, a Japanese engineer and bird enthusiast, turned to the kingfisher for inspiration. He observed how this bird was able to dive into water without producing much splashing, thanks to the sharp shape of its beak. Nakatsu applied this design to the front of bullet trains, resulting in significant energy savings and a reduction in noise pollution.



Galyna Bozhok

Exploring art, photography, entrepreneurship, and investments