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Imitating Nature – 11 Amazing Bionic Structures: Part 2

11 April 2011 No Comment

Some buildings follow the minimalist design in their structure, while others use rich decorations with truly expressive and interesting designs.

Man has always used ideas from nature to inspire structures, from the early rope bridges to the tallest towers. Nature’s structures have been tried and tested by evolution, so we know they work. They are sustainable as nature works in harmony.

Read along to see a few more splendid expressions belonging to the bionic architectural movement.

The next wonder of the World – the Bionic Tower of Shanghai

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Although only in its project phase, the Bionic Tower is definitely going to be the next huge wonder of our Earth. This will be a skyscraper of 1,228 meters in height, and will be built on the urban model of “vertical city”. It is intended as a residential housing project, which would be the home of 100,000 people. It has 300 stories, and the in-built 368 elevators would allow not only vertical but also horizontal movement. The masterminds behind this project are Spanish architects Rosa Cervera, Javier Gomez and Eloy Celaya.

The area required to build it is ~ 2,000,000 m2, and the basic material would be micro-structured concrete. Its cost is currently estimated to exceed $15 billion.

It is a mega- structure skyscraper, which is bionic in its form and shape but also functionality. The microclimate within the building is going to be ensured by air conditioners led by a special technology, keeping in mind that inhabitants on the upper floors cannot open their windows for fresh air to circulate (security reasons!).

Simple pipelines will also have to be switched with a different high-end technology which would be efficient given the enormous height of the building (normal water pressure would not be able to sustain the water supply); also, the foundation structure will go deep in the ground (~ 200m). When will it be ready? It highly depends on when they start, because the estimated building time lasts 15 years.

Sweden’s Twisted Tower – the Turning Torso

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This building is located in Malmo, Sweden and is acknowledged as the highest building on the Scandinavian island. The designer, Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava who is one of the highest regarded professionals in the world. The building was been finished in 2005, after construction started in 2001. Four years, a collection of great minds and skilful hands, and this is the result.

Now you may wonder what forms and shapes from nature does the building imitate, well, it is actually an anthropomorphic structure, imitating a human being who has a twisted position. Calatrava is also a sculptor by profession, and the building was inspired on a sculpture he created in white marble called “the Twisting Torso”.

The building is 190 meters high and has 54 stories. The ground spaces within the building are used as office spaces, while the rest are actually luxury residential apartments. The most interesting fact about the building is that the top of it is twisted to exactly 90 degrees, as compared to the ground part. The entire building gives a very nice optical illusion, and it is highly admired by everybody visiting Malmo. It actually stands as the symbol of modernization of the Swedish city. A truly wonderful design and an expression of engineering taken to the extremes!

A building functioning and living independently like a tree? The Treescaper Tower of Tomorrow project

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This is actually a building in its project phase designed by William Mc Donough and partners. The Treescaper would be perhaps the best exemplification of a fully echo and “green” building. This structure is 100% inspired from a tree, from how it lives, changes and renews in pure nature, not aided by outside “forces”.

A very important piece of information regarding architect William Mc Donough is that he actually received the title of “hero of the planet” back in 1977, by then Time magazine editors. He earned this title by building the very first residential house, which produced its energy entirely from the sun (located in Ireland). One can truly recognize his preoccupation with echo structures, since he was truly fascinated with these even 30 something years ago.

In simple terms, the “treescaper” is designed to make its own oxygen, distil the water, even change its outlook as seasons pass by and of course produce its own energy (and store it). It is a highly efficient building that would practically produce everything it needs from nature, and produce as little losses as possible (even the bath water would have a recycling system, the newly obtained water being used for garden watering purposes).

The sum up size of photovoltaic panels attached to one side of the building would exceed 100,000 square feet. Thus, the sun rays are converted into energy, and energy is being used for household purposes. The inhabitants would not receive their usual hefty monthly energy bill, that’s for sure. For what the Sun could not cover in terms of enough heat to produce energy, designers thought of installing heat and power plants using natural gas. Minimum materials used, maximum efficiency for living, these are the words that would best describe the Treescaper Tower of tomorrow!

A building which clearly owes its inspiration to the bird’s nest

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Bird’s nests vary in complexity as much as the birds themselves do, and have provided a model for housing since prehistoric times. The function of a bird’s nest is twofold, to provide protection for the eggs and to keep the temperature suitable for the developing chicks. Many nests are models of thermal insulation. They can be lined with moss or other insulation materials, but the warmest are lined with feathers.

Some species of Australian bird use rotting vegetation in their nests to produce heat to incubate their eggs; a perfect example of recycling and using sustainable resources. The most complex nests probably belong to the weaverbird, as the name suggests they weave nests made of grasses, which they suspend, from trees and branches.

Beijing National Stadium was built for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. Known as the Bird’s Nest Stadium, is an earth quake resistant steel structure designed to last for at least 100 years.

The Birds nest model creates surprisingly strong structures, showing how a simple material such as grass can be used to make a sustainable structure. The weaverbirds also provide a model for our apartment style houses, as some species live in communal nests. This appears to be one large nest but inside there can be up to 300 separate apartments, each with its own entrance.

Portland’s future of development? Jumptown building

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Yet another piece in the bionic architecture of the puzzle, Jumptown is an amazing project in Portland, Oregon – where being ecologically savvy and caring about nature means much more than anywhere else in the US. The leading architect of this project is Ken Yeang from Malaysia. He is acclaimed for having designed many energy saving solutions which were implemented for high rise buildings and skyscrapers. Ecodesign is the main influence in his works. Some very interesting vertical eco- structure buildings of his include the Spire Edge Tower in Delhi, India and the DiGi Technical office in Kuala Lumpur, among the many other so effective and wonderful designs.

The structure is being built with ecological awareness in mind, and it will function on solar power (thanks to the photovoltaic panels), water recycling (both rain and sewage water), and in its building only lightweight sustainable materials will be used. The garden right on the roof will be the centerpiece of green spot, with a sort of cascading style gardens continuing down the sides of the building. From a distance, the whole structure looks like an immense cascade embraced by lush green vegetation. It is a wonderful expression of architecture of the future and of sustainability, it’s a pity there are only few such buildings on the planet.

Honeycomb Building Chicago & the proposed futuristic Honeycomb shaped Leeds Arena

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Bees have long been inspirational because of their hard work and the fact that they co-operate in order to survive. Worker bees are selfless in that they will sacrifice themselves in order that the hive is saved. Honey is a delicacy for man, but for the bees it is their winter food store.

The cells in a honeycomb have a distinctive hexagonal shape. This means that they have less surface area for their volume than other shapes. The bees can store more honey by using the minimum amount of wax. This particular structure is surprisingly strong in spite of the empty space inside and is used in some building materials.

It is also the inspiration behind many buildings like the Honeycomb Building in Chicago, the proposed futuristic Honeycomb shaped Leeds Arena (which will include a green roof & be committed to sustainability) and 1175-foot Sinosteel International Plaza in Tinajin, China,

Future of bionic architecture

Some of these buildings already exist; some are already under construction (such as Jumptown in Oregon), while some are only in their project phase (Treescaper Tower of Tomorrow). The most important thing to keep in mind is that the more we see architects striving to build up eco friendly and energy saving homes for people, the better our World will get.

Earth is already in a situation where it does not have enough resources that can be exploited further, so coming up with truly efficient and savvy ideas will give room for the planet to regenerate and rest a little bit after so much exploitation.

Insufflating this ecological awareness into building technologies as well is very important, because only this way will people be able to progress and move forwards in time, in a healthy surrounding, and a less polluted world.

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