Lessons from nature in building design

Friends of the Earth is seeking out inspiring buildings that learn from nature as part of its Big Ideas Change the World project – and it is asking members of the public to vote for the ideas they like best.

Architects and designers are increasingly looking to nature and natural systems for inspiration, creating uniquely functional biomimetic buildings that maximise efficiency and eliminate waste, such as Mick Pearce’s Eastgate Centre in Harare or the Namibian fog-basking beetle inspired Sahara Forest Project pilot greenhouse in Qatar.

As part of its project to identify the big ideas needed to shift us to a more sustainable world, Friends of the Earth has put together a list of architecture projects that mimic nature to celebrate and share the way in which we can learn from the natural world.

The environmental group is inviting others to add to the list and asking members of the public to vote and comment on the designs.

Mike Childs, who coordinates the Big Ideas Change the World project for Friends of the Earth said learning from nature would provide vital lessons going forward.

“Nature has the amazing capacity to provide humanity with the basic things that we need and we can all learn from nature about how to make sure we use those resources well to enhance our future survival. How we interact with nature affects the food we eat, the way we live and our sense of wellbeing, so it is essential that we treat it with respect and look after it.”

Friends of the Earth has identified three big ideas for working with nature:

  • using land and water for more than one purpose, and recognising the way in which ecosystems need to be managed for multi-functionality, for example protecting biodiversity on farmland by mixing trees with crops.
  • shifting to more affordable, diverse and healthy diets, which reduce waste and avoid over-consumption of meat and dairy to make the most of the way in which land is used for food
  • access to nature for all, to enhance wellbeing and ensure that our natural resources are managed in a way that recognises their value as a global shared resource.

Mike Childs added:

“If we are to make the most of our natural resource base, then we need to fundamentally change the way we think about nature in the built environment. Cities and urban landscapes need to work with nature to make efficient use of natural resources, and to create green spaces and environments that have been shown to enhance our sense of wellbeing.”

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