Science is for Architecture what nature is for materials.

Science is for Architecture what nature is for materials.

Architecture is art. Architecture is human creation, therefore the former is ruled by science. Some colleagues might think that it is too much effort involved in research and acquisition of information that must be carried out by others in order to be processed through years of investigation. Yes, it is a long way to get there, but it is also an achievement of obtaining the exact result for a solution that was bothering your design ages ago.

106094127 copyThere are so many buildings and structures throughout history that amaze us everyday and every sight (not talking about contemporary starchitects blossoms). Some of us Architects may have never wondered which was its inspiration in terms of function and structure, where is the precedent if no one else thought of it before?
As exposed by NatureTech on a bio-mimetic documentary in relation to architecture, there is an extremely strong relationship between Architectural pioneers and nature:

History documents that the Eiffel Tower, designed by structural designer Gustave Eiffel, was inspired by a triad of investigators such as what anatomist Herman Von Meyer (1850’s) has discovered after his profound interest towards the human bones, specifically the femur. Consequently Swiss Engineer Karl Cullman understood that the “tabuglae” lines of the thigh bone, compared to structural diagrams of dead load analysis, are created exactly where structural load is required. So in result Mr. Eiffel and his team designed this bone tissue structure with the same disposition of the “tabuglae” lines.

Biomimetic Eiffel Tower inspired by femur’s internal structure

Biomimetic Eiffel Tower inspired by femur’s internal structure

Aside to this marvelous design, the Crystal Palace in London, designed by Architect Joseph Paxton in accordance and mimicry of water lilies plants has a similar effect to Eiffel’s structural intentions. This gorgeous plant species, possess the ideal structure any engineer would dare to calculate as a pioneer. It’s bottom (shown on image below), is designed as a column, distributing its loads to its center through the nerves, capable of supporting a child on top.


Crystal Palace by Architect Joseph Paxton inspired by water lilies.

The environment is capable of telling us exactly what we need in order to create innovative Architecture, but we need to look closer at what nature points out. It doesn’t mean that we go and imitate exactly what the naked eye sees, we must look deeper. My fascination towards materials science, innovation in products, design, architecture; opened up this image of nature as a tool for designing, looking, studying and thinking about organisms that do things we need just for a living. Although science engineering is what I first aimed, seems like all of it is connected.

It is all getting clearer now. These two precedents in our history of Architecture are a hint of what mankind is capable of achieving. There must be more seekers of innovation and since environmental issues have been growing, so have been the remedy: Biomimesis, Biomimicry, or Bionics. I don’t intend to become a scientists, but I sure am curious about materials innovation.

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Mabelle Plasencia

Founder and Editor at INmatteria©
• Architect | LEED AP BD+C, with an intense passion for materiality, innovation, technology and science. • Arquitecta | LEED AP BD+C apasionada por la materialidad, innovación, tecnología y ciencia.