Invisible Dust

London | Sunday 21 January
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Exploration Architecture – Designing with Nature


05/03/2014
The design for an office building inspired by the eye of a Spook Fish

We would like to share with you the work of our friends at Exploration Architecture and invite you to visit their exhibition ‘Designing with Nature‘ which will run at The Architecture Foundation until the 15th of March.

The exhibition presents the work of Exploration Architecture whose thought-leading architecture and design practices work in the field of biomimicry – using nature to inspire the way we build.

Exploration Architecture Director Michael Pawlyn summed up a major issue in the environment sector when he described his motivation for the work he does:

“All my work is driven by a frustration with the word ‘sustainable’. It suggests something that is just about good enough, but we need to be looking at truly restorative solutions. We’ve gone from dominating nature to learning from bits of it, but now we should be looking at total reconciliation with the natural world.”

It is this ethic and the work it inspires that are presented at the exhibition through a striking 3D printed installation showcasing a selection of four projects and prototypes from the studio’s cutting-edge research on sustainable (for want of a better word), nature-inspired design.

An example is the beautiful design for an office building inspired by the eye of a spook fish, pictured above. The design takes advantage of the mechanisms within a spook fish eye which allow it to peer through the gloom of its deep sea home, picking up any light it can find in order to see predators, and stay alive. In the context of a building this means an office space that uses potentially half the glass of a standard office block of the same size and allows huge quantities of natural light to reflect deep into the office floors – meaning far less need for the power hungry florescent lights found in most offices.

Inspiration doesn’t only come from the design of the natural world but also from its building techniques. How about growing buildings? The concept – which is as yet just a concept, although they are working with Queens University, Belfast to make it a reality – takes its inspiration from the coccolithophore. A coccolithophore is a single-cell marine organism, enclosed in a kind of cage made from the calcium carbonate it pulls from the surrounding seawater. Over the years, these organisms capture carbon and fall to the sea floor, building up layers of limestone. The idea is that these same principles could be used to “grow” buildings from atmospheric carbon, employing a technique that was originally developed by marine biologist Thomas Goreau for rebuilding coral reefs.

The project being designed in collaboration with Queens University, Belfast, could see the first biorock pavilion grown underwater, using a wire mesh structure in the form of a ribbed seashell. Pawlyn estimates the lightweight shell structure they have designed could be fully grown in only 18 months.

If that hasn’t convinced you I don’t know what will, but there is plenty more to see at the exhibition so with only ten days left to catch it, I suggest you get a move on.

 The Architecture Foundation is at 136-148 Tooley Street, SE1 2TU and is a short walk from London Bridge station.

 

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