March 7, 2021

Bionic buildings for 15,000 million people

More than thirty years ago I found casually in an almost forgotten drawer of cheap books a copy entitled: "Initiation to Bionics," whose author is I.B. Littinetsky. In the preface you can read: "Nature does not easily reveal the secrets of its creation."

The book, written in the last decade of the sixties, was a source of analyzes carried out on various natural organisms that could be connected to industrial engineering. For example, the sting mechanism of a wasp could be assimilated to a pneumatic hammer – a lot of instantaneous force exerted on a very small surface. It is clear that differences in scale between the machine and the insect would force very different designs, but it was a good starting point.

A few years earlier I had the opportunity to conduct research on the complex structures of living beings, at the Columbia University School of Architecture in New York, seeking to innovate in structural patterns that were applicable to architecture. Understanding that the logic of organic structures is based on maximum material savings and optimization of energy consumption, these two concepts were easily extrapolated to construction engineering and architecture. Thus I began in 1985 the theory and practice of Bionic Architecture.

On the other hand, we are currently just over 7 billion inhabitants occupying the planet, with growth forecasts that estimate reaching 15 billion in the last third of this century. This means that there will be a need to build four times everything already built and provide for an energy expenditure 8 times greater than the current one. In this context, it seems advisable that the human being strives to put into practice all those mechanisms that fundamentally save energy. It is from this perspective that bionics can provide a different approach to the way in which the practice of architecture and urban planning is conventionally approached today. The deep knowledge of the laws of nature is a door of encounter with the reality of things. And it is from this thinking position that an innovative architecture can be developed capable of creating a human habitat in tune with the natural one.

However, it is obvious that what serves the tree to rise from the ground or the bird to fly, does not serve either a building to be built, or an airplane to stay in the air. To be inspired by nature to simply imitate natural forms under a new "organicist" aesthetic is nothing more than a superficial and incomplete vision of the subject. A positioning in favor of learning from the logic of natural structures, rather than their forms, is much more appropriate, and makes it possible to shape urban and architectural designs capable of saving building material and consuming energy in a more responsible and balanced way.

Basic principles

From my experience as an architect, the knowledge of the natural structures applicable to architecture can be synthesized in five basic principles: First, everything has the right geometric order: nature prioritizes the optimal geometry over the material and its resistant capacity. Second: Every order is structured: natural structures and forms form an indivisible unit. Third: Every structure forms fabrics, nature does not build with pillars and beams, but with networks in which many small elements working at the same time are more resistant than few and large. Fourth: All tissue is porous, natural structures are made of porous materials that keep a proportion between matter and emptiness, and a balance between form and space. Fifth: Everything contributes to saving energy, the laws that govern natural structures have maximum flexibility and adaptability in their main tools for optimal energy savings. These are the five basic principles that I apply in my Bionic Architecture.

. (tagsToTranslate) so it will be 2029

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