Have you ever taken time to really look at nature? Something as simple as how bees build their hives can be beautiful, if you really take the time to look at it. As humans, we tend to live our fast paced lives oblivious to the beauty around us. This week we talked about both biological and technical nutrients. Biological nutrients are consumed by microorganisms in the soil and other animals and put back into the earth; they biodegrade. Technical nutrients are products that cannot be put back into the earth but instead constantly stay in the closed-loop technical cycle. One of the problems that we face is not using enough biological nutrients. Because of mass industrialization, all of our products are things that cannot go back into the earth. Often when we are using biological nutrients, they are in the form of monstrous hybrids, which are mixtures of both technical and biological nutrients. The problem with this is that they cannot be put back into the earth like biological nutrients and they cannot stay in the closed loop system with technical nutrients. Therefore, valuable “food” for both the biological and technical metabolisms is contaminated, wasted, or lost. I think that learning to use fewer monstrous hybrids would drastically improve our ecological situation. Also, if we as humans were to see ourselves as a part of nature, and a part of the biological metabolism, we would start to care more about replenishing what we take. Instead, we see ourselves as dominant over nature and tend to forget that the earth won’t replenish itself.
This week one of the LOLA presentations was about Sharklet technologies and how they have replicated sharkskin in order to keep away bacteria. I think this is a great example of someone seeing the beauty in nature and using it in a way to help us as well. It was interesting to me that that diamond scale pattern is something that sharks are just born with, yet we have probably spent a crazy amount of time and money researching how to create antimicrobial surfaces in an unnatural way, when the solution is fairly simple, and right in front of us.
My LOLA presentation this week was about Mick Pearce’s creation of the Eastgate building and how it was replicated through observation of termite dwellings. This was really interesting and piqued my interest, because of how simple Pearce’s solution was. He just studied the natural climate around where he was building, realized that termite structures keep constant temperature despite outside temperature variances, and replicated this in the form of a building. It saved so much in building costs and the decreased energy use while the building is functioning is incredible.
My epiphany this week is that sometimes the solution to becoming more sustainable is right in front of our faces. There’s a reason why sharks are made with that skin and there’s a reason why termites inherently know how to build these types of structures. Everything in nature is meant to function as one big biological metabolism. Humans are a part of this too. Early hunters and gatherers traveled light and used local materials to make their few possessions. When they left, they left these possessions behind and they were able to be “consumed” by nature. Industrialization has greatly disrupted this process. While I do not think that we will ever rule out some industrial practices, I do think that we are going to have to start looking at the beauty in nature around us and start taking advantage of that, instead of relying solely on industrialization.
Knowing what I know now, I would like to learn more about biomimetic buildings. After doing my research for my LOLA show, I found other more advanced buildings that Pearce has been able to create from his termite research, but I would be very interested to learn about other buildings that have been created through different biomimetic techniques and how successful they are.