December 2004: The Biomimicry Way

Author: Onno Koelman 

In the third article of the series, Onno focuses on an essential aspect of Biomimicry: "rewarding co-operation and making symbiotic relationships work." How can buildings learn from the diversity and interdependence of type III ecosystems? Can buildings optimize their designs to the locate climate and location? Can buildings integrate in existing developments or natural landscapes?

One example is the Casper's building in Vancouver, British Columbia. The developer spent a year interviewing members of the local community, resulting in a mixed-use building that exemplifies diversity and co-operation. Other examples are 'eco-industrial' parks, such as Kalundborg in Denmark or the even larger network discovered by Erich Schwarz in Styria, Austria. In both cases, companies have discovered that recycled 'waste' can both be cheaper and often better quality than raw materials, when the full costs are included.

Again looking to nature for inspiration, buildings could become self-sufficient, drawing water and energy from renewable resources and eliminating the need to dispose of sewage and garbage. Clusters of buildings would co-operate, maximizing efficiency at the community level and improving resiliency.

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