BIOMIMICRY, Nature: Architecture of the Future
By Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, April 5, 2010
- Middle School
- Social Studies
Nature has inspired architecture for centuries. From the delicate designs of the aqueducts to the stucco facades of the Mediterranean, local and regional ecosystems play a major role in the design and function of the buildings we use every day. But what does the future hold for architecture in relationship to ecology and sustainability? Can the natural world provide us with a template for smarter buildings and more efficient designs?
Roman aqueducts created an extensive water transportation system that connected water sources with densely populated regions.The adobe structure and the wigwam are both forms of architecture employed before Europeans invaded what would come to be known as the Americas. Both utilize very different building techniques due to the surrounding climate and available resources In this exercise students will consider the relationship between nature and design by comparing and contrasting historical examples of architecture influenced by the natural world. Students will also design architectural models for the future of their community or school considering local variables like climate and native materials. These designs will integrate concepts of green design and biomimicry into sketches and brainstorming sessions that reflect on key issues in US History and Geography.
Common Core State Standards
English Language Arts Standards: Science & Technical Subjects
Key Ideas and Details:
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts.
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.2 Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; provide an accurate summary of the text distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.3 Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks.
Craft and Structure:
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.4 Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 6-8 texts and topics.
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.5 Analyze the structure an author uses to organize a text, including how the major sections contribute to the whole and to an understanding of the topic.
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.6 Analyze the author's purpose in providing an explanation, describing a procedure, or discussing an experiment in a text.
Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.7 Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.8 Distinguish among facts, reasoned judgment based on research findings, and speculation in a text.
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.9 Compare and contrast the information gained from experiments, simulations, video, or multimedia sources with that gained from reading a text on the same topic.
Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity:
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.10 By the end of grade 8, read and comprehend science/technical texts in the grades 6-8 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
English Language Arts Standards Writing
Production and Distribution of Writing:
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.5 With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed.
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and present the relationships between information and ideas clearly and efficiently.
Research to Build and Present Knowledge:
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.7 Conduct short research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question), drawing on several sources and generating additional related, focused questions that allow for multiple avenues of exploration.
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, using search terms effectively; assess the credibility and accuracy of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.9 Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for reflection and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.
English Language Arts Standards: Speaking and Listening
Comprehension and Collaboration:
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade level topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.1.A Come to discussions prepared, having read or researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence on the topic, text, or issue to probe and reflect on ideas under discussion.
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.2 Analyze the purpose of information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and evaluate the motives (e.g., social, commercial, political) behind its presentation.
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.8.3 Delineate a speaker's argument and specific claims, evaluating the soundness of the reasoning and relevance and sufficiency of the evidence and identifying when irrelevant evidence is introduced.
- Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas:
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.4 Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with relevant evidence, sound valid reasoning, and well-chosen details; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.5 Integrate multimedia and visual displays into presentations to clarify information, strengthen claims and evidence, and add interest.
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate. (See grade 8 Language standards 1 and 3 here for specific expectations.)
English Language Arts Standards: Reading Informational Text
Key Ideas and Details:
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6-8.1 Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6-8.2 Determine two or more central ideas in a text and analyze their development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text.
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6-8.3 Analyze the interactions between individuals, events, and ideas in a text (e.g., how ideas influence individuals or events, or how individuals influence ideas or events).
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6-8.5 Analyze the structure an author uses to organize a text, including how the major sections contribute to the whole and to the development of the ideas.
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6-8.6 Determine an author's point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how the author distinguishes his or her position from that of others.
Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6-8.7 Compare and contrast a text to an audio, video, or multimedia version of the text, analyzing each medium's portrayal of the subject (e.g., how the delivery of a speech affects the impact of the words).
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6-8.8 Trace and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is sound and the evidence is relevant and sufficient to support the claims.
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6-7.9 Analyze how two or more authors writing about the same topic shape their presentations of key information by emphasizing different evidence or advancing different interpretations of facts.
- Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity:
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6-8.10 By the end of the year, read and comprehend literary nonfiction in the grades 6-8 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
- Look at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum's Design for the Other 90% archive. Search for the Worldbike and Q Drum projects for examples of designs that respond to their local community; take cues from the local environment.
- The Biomimicry Institute
- Better by Design An Innovation Guide: Using Natural Design Solutions
- Exploration Architecture
- HydroNet: San Francisco 2108
- Mapungubwe National Park Interpretive Center
- New Carver Apartments project by Michael Maltzan
- Building Materials – cardboard base, sticks, soil, rocks, shells, feathers, pinecones, seeds, leaves, animal fur, bones
- Construction materials – tape, glue, rulers, pencils
- Three Worlds Meet (Beginnings to 1620) - Discuss some initial US History concerning Native American culture and architecture. How did Native Americans use natural materials in their local ecosystem for tents, housing and other structures? Discuss different tribes throughout the continent. How did their bioregion (or ecological location) affect the kinds of structures they built? In the South versus the West? In the North versus the East? What kinds of materials were available to use?
- Expansion and Reform (1801-1861) – As manifest destiny pushed the United States westward, what kinds of impromptu architecture, housing and structures were inspired by the prairies and new landscapes of California?
- The Development of the Industrial United States (1870-1900) – With the Industrial Revolution in full swing, factories made it possible for steel and other materials to be used in housing and buildings. How did this begin to affect the landscape of American architecture and our relationship to the environment?
- To get students thinking critically about these historical examples of architecture as a response to the natural environment, have students sketch out some architectural influences used by Native Americans, western settlers and early industrialists in America.
- Construct an architectural timeline that responds to the way that Americans have related to the environment.
- As in the previous activity, identify common shapes like triangles, rectangles and circles in the designs and relate these to the concepts of biomimicry.
- Share findings with the class and talk about major patterns and relationships identified.
- Form and Shape
- Bioregion (location) & Climate
- Relationship to Local Surroundings
- Your Community
- Native American Wigwams
- Earthships in the Southwest
- Adobe Huts in South America
- Tuscan Villas and Mediterranean Plazas
- African Grass Huts
- be inspired by nature and be sustainable, healthy, conserving and diverse.
- unfold, like an organism, from the seed within.
- exist in the \"continuous present\" and \"begin again and again.\"
- follow the flows and be flexible and adaptable.
- satisfy social and physical needs.
- \"grow out of the site\" and be unique.
- A great example to reference from the 2010 National Design Triennial is the Mapungubwe National Park Interpretive Center in South Africa. A part of a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Center uses locally manufactured tiles to replace the more energy-intensive fired-clay bricks used around the region, and local workers are trained as masons in order to construct the complex. Each building is designed to operate with very low energy requirements, and most of the construction materials come directly from the site. The largest vault spans sixty feet, and the form of the vaults is determined to minimize the compressive stresses in the weak soil bricks. The project is part of a poverty-relief program that trains local workers and develops new means of livelihood. According to Ochsendorf, had they fabricated concrete panels and transported them to the site, the building would not have changed the area. In the end, masonry surpasses its historic associations and becomes a means of economic empowerment and a catalyst for new sustainable forms.
- Another great example is HydroNet: San Francisco 2108. San Francisco–based designers IwamotoScott created HydroNet as an experimental project in response to the design challenge of conceiving the city one hundred years in the future. Predicated on the belief that future circulation networks in cities will be more connected but also more self-sufficient, the project proposes a citywide, multi-scale transportation network that collects, distributes, and stores fresh water, geothermal energy, and hydrogen fuel.
- Design a structure that can float on water or sit on land
- Design a house that uses no or little electricity but could be bright all day long
- Design a building that can be used to grow food
- Design a public space that mimics the local landscape of your area
- Architects are using the design of termite mounds to naturally cool buildings.
- Designers are creating rooftop farms to grow food and absorb carbon emissions from their
- Architects are developing windows that have PV cells embedded in the glass to gather energy.
- What elements of nature are mimicked in your design?
- Is your design in any way similar to those of designers in the Cooper-Hewitt’s Triennial?
- How could your design help save energy, reduce waste or otherwise benefit the environment through the use of natural influences?
- How difficult or easy would it be to implement your design?