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Biomimicry: The Latest Architecture and News

When Biology Inspires Architecture: An Interview with Doris Kim Sung

01:00 - 14 May, 2014
When Biology Inspires Architecture: An Interview with Doris Kim Sung , Much of dO|Su Studio Architecture's work is with Thermal-Bimetals, a laminated sheet metal material that can expand and contract at different temperatures. Image © Brandon Shigeta
Much of dO|Su Studio Architecture's work is with Thermal-Bimetals, a laminated sheet metal material that can expand and contract at different temperatures. Image © Brandon Shigeta

Material Minds, presented by ArchDaily Materials, is our new series of short interviews with architects, designers, scientists, and others who use architectural materials in innovative ways. Enjoy!

Before attending Columbia University for her Masters in Architecture, Los Angeles-based architect Doris Kim Sung took a fairly non-traditional approach to becoming an architect: she was a biologist. Naturally then, Sung’s architectural work tends to take inspiration from the biological world, particularly in the way she experiments and innovates with materials. Much of her work involves thermal bimetals, a material that expands and contracts with temperature swings; it can even act as a sun shade and ventilation system, without the need for electricity.

So where does a biologist-turned-architect draw inspiration from? We interviewed Ms. Sung to find out for ourselves -- the responses, like her work at dO|Su Architecture, are simply fascinating.

Bricks Grown From Bacteria

00:00 - 1 February, 2014
Bricks Grown From Bacteria, Courtesy of bioMason
Courtesy of bioMason

A unique biotechnology start-up company have developed a method of growing bricks from nothing more than bacteria and naturally abundant materials. Having recently won first place in the Cradle to Cradle Product Innovation Challenge, bioMason has developed a method of growing materials by employing microorganisms. Arguing that the four traditional building materials - concrete, glass, steel and wood - both contain a significant level of embodied energy and heavily rely on limited natural resources, their answer is in high strength natural biological cements (such as coral) that can be used "without negative impacts to the surrounding environment."

Silk Pavilion / MIT Media Lab

00:00 - 6 June, 2013
Silk Pavilion / MIT Media Lab, © Steven Keating
© Steven Keating

"Our research integrates computational form-finding strategies with biologically inspired fabrication", claims the 'about' page of MIT Media Lab's Mediated Matter Group. Though this may sound like run-of-the-mill architectural boasting, you are unlikely to find any more exemplary combination of scientific research, digital design and biomimetic construction than their recently completed Silk Pavilion.

© Steven Keating © Steven Keating © Markus Kayser Schematics of the human-constructed portion of the pavilion © Jorge Duro-Royo + 9

Vertebrae Staircase / Andrew McConnell

00:00 - 9 February, 2013
Courtesy of Andrew McConnell
Courtesy of Andrew McConnell

Inspired by the spine of a whale, the Vertebrae Staircase is not simply mimicry of organic form but an exploration in shaping structure. Much of the design work went into refining the single component, or vertebra, that mate with each other creating a unified spine running from floor plate to floor plate. These interlocking vertebrae create a rigid and self-supporting structure. 

More on Andrew McConnell's 'Vertebrae Staircase' after the break.

TEDx: Metal that breathes / Doris Kim Sung

15:00 - 14 November, 2012

Biology student turn architect, Doris Kim Sung has dedicated her studies to the infinite possibilities of thermobimetals, smart materials that respond dynamically to temperature change. As tested with DO|SU Studio Architecture’s recent installation “Bloom”, whose surface is completely fabricated with thermobimetal, these smart materials are capable of relieving our dependence on energy-inefficient mechanical systems with their self-shading and self-ventilating properties.

Imagine a building skin capable of maintaining thermal comfort in an environmentally responsible and cost effective way by responsively mimicking the characteristics of human skin.

How 3D Printing Will Change Our World (Part II)

09:30 - 19 July, 2012
Rapid Craft, designed by Neri Oxman.
Rapid Craft, designed by Neri Oxman.

Today, 3D Printing technology lives in the realm of small plastic tchotchkes. But economists, theorists, and consumers alike predict that 3D printers will democratize the act of creation and, in so doing, revolutionize our world. Which poses an interesting quandary: what will happen when we can print houses?

Last week, I discussed the incredible capabilities of 3D Printing in the not-so distant future: to quickly create homes for victims of disaster/poverty; to allow the architect the freedom to create curvy, organic structures once only dreamed of. But, if we look a little further afield, the possibilities are even more staggering.

In the next few paragraphs, I’ll introduce you to Neri Oxman, an architect and MIT professor using 3D Printing technology to create almost-living structures that may just be the future of sustainable design. Oxman’s work shows how 3D Printing will turn our concept of what architecture – and the architect – is, completely on its head.

Interview: Michael Pawlyn on Biomimicry

13:00 - 17 November, 2011
Abalone Shell : Photo by Gilly Walker - http://www.flickr.com/photos/27863935@N03/. Used under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/'>Creative Commons</a>
Abalone Shell : Photo by Gilly Walker - http://www.flickr.com/photos/27863935@N03/. Used under Creative Commons

The Economist featured an interview with Michael Pawlyn discussing sustainable architecture inspired by nature. Michael Pawlyn is known for his passionate investigations of the unique, efficient structures of natural organisms and how they may translate through design. Biomimicry has been an important topic amongst the innovators and educators who are learning from the 3.8 billion years invested into the design of our natural world.

The shell of an abalone is “twice as strong as the toughest man-made ceramic.”

Continue reading for the complete interview.