Biomimicry & Biomimetic Facades
Updated: Jul 7
Buildings are capable of producing up to 33% of carbon emissions, because of which architects are striving towards designing smart façades that are energy efficient. A façade is like a “barrier” between the habitual spaces and the outside environment and most of the energy transfer (heat/cold) takes place through it. Smart façades should be sustainable and its most important criteria are that it should be material and energy efficient I.e. the façades should consume or release the least amount of energy to maintain comfort in the interiors.
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Design with Ease
“Good architecture lets nature in” – Mario Pei”
Rightly said, a combination of art and nature has rarely been unappreciated, but not all nature inspired designs are necessarily sustainable. Architects nowadays have started applying the principles of nature to create smart façades known as “Biomimetic Façades” or “Biomimicry” I.e. mimicking nature and applying it to design. It is said that one can find inspiration anywhere and architects have created designs inspired by the human skin, honeycomb and living organisms.
The three design parameters for biomimetic smart façades are air/ wind, shade and the climate which relates to thermal and visual comfort. Apart from these, an energy-efficient façade should also take into consideration factors like solar radiation, wind speed and humidity. To help designers inculcate nature into the design, a software known as BioTRIZ converts data analysis from biology into technology. Using this, architects designed a roofing system inspired by a honeycomb that reduced the heat transfer by allowing longer wave radiations to pass vertically through the open pores of the comb and drastically reducing the surface temperature. Design Hub in Australia has come up with an “Operable Skin”, inspired by the pores of the human skin, which has numerous sandblasted glass circles connected to a central rod, that can be pivoted.
Apart from its property of collecting solar radiation throughout the day, the rods pivot automatically when it experiences changes in the moisture content and temperature of the interiors. Reducing the overall energy consumption of the building drastically, the façade envelopes the structure in a way that fresh air and shade is available to the people naturally. The human body is the most complex and dynamic design and the phenomenon of releasing “sweat” during heat gain encouraged designers in New York to develop a double skin technology that worked in a similar way. To make this work, the team created an actuator or “an artificial muscle” that is made up of a dielectric elastomer enveloped over a core of polymer. The core being flexible, enables contraction and expansion allowing it to bend and respond to the climatic condition automatically, which helps regulate the internal temperature.