Nature Inspired Design Strategies: Biomimicry

Biomimicry can be defined as taking inspiration from nature or imitating nature in designs and technologies developed as solutions to various problems. At the heart of biomimicry is the idea that nature has already solved many of the problems humanity is wrestling with today. Thanks to scientific studies, we know that animals, plants, and even microbes are excellent engineers. So we can say; While failures have become fossils  “over a million years of evolution”, what surrounds us today is “the secret of survival”. It is a fact. In this direction, one of the main missions of biomimicry is experience, the solutions produced for various struggles in nature have been tested by various forces of nature, and the strong ones who can adapt to difficult changes have survived. So we too can use nature’s 13.8 billion years of experience as a reference to solve our own problems. The design inspired by biomimicry produces adaptable, visually harmonious, and least energy-consuming solutions. Nature has also optimized resource consumption itself. Thus, sustainability, which is the second mission of biomimicry, is hidden in the development of designs that come from nature.

Once said, “Nature is the largest research library on the planet. Now the only question is not to know how it is read” this emphasizes that we should observe nature well and interpret it.

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Throughout history, people have shaped their environment with their different designs and inventions; We can see in many works that people envy the perfection of nature and tried to imitate it. For example, the design of the Munich Olympic Stadium was inspired by dragonfly wings. Although the wings are 1/3000 millimeters thick, they still stand out with their durability. It is durable because its wings are made up of almost a thousand pieces. Thanks to these pieces, there is no tearing during flight and the roof of the Olympic Stadium in Munich is similarly constructed. Another example, inspired by the sun-following sunflower, is designed to orient solar panels towards the sun. Several solar power plants in Andalusia, Spain look a lot like sunflowers from the sky. This is not an artistic or random arrangement, these solar panels are designed to deflect with respect to the sun like a sunflower plant because concentrated solar power plants take up too much space and mirrors are not effective as they block the sun.

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The fact that this habit of being inspired by nature, which dates back to ancient times, is being considered a discipline is actually quite new. Today, it is very important for architects and engineers to use this discipline in their designs in terms of energy efficiency and sustainability. Because there are many global problems such as increasing population, rapid industrialization, increasing fossil fuel consumption, increasing greenhouse gases, and as a result, the balance of nature is getting worse and resources are running out. Therefore, it is necessary to find quick solutions to these problems.

There are many goals for clean energy and a clean environment in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, but the most important goal should be to ensure that the solutions produced are always compatible with the ecological structure, and this can only be sustainable by imitating the flawless functioning of nature.sdg wheel smaller 2

Steve Jobs emphasized the importance of this with these words: “ I think the greatest innovations of the 21st century will be at the intersection of biology and technology. A new era is beginning.

Janine Benyus, who is a biologist, author, and innovation consultant, founded a website named AskNature where designers can get information about different plants and animals that already perform the function they are biomimicing nature for their projects. In 2009, Benyus gave TED Talk titled Biomimicry in Action and her opening line was “If I could reveal anything that is hidden from us — at least in modern cultures — it would be something we forget. Something we already know. Something we know as our name. That is, we live in a resourceful universe and are part of a wonderful planet. And we are surrounded by incomparable genius.” Her words remind us of a fact that many of us know naturally but are unaware of.

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We want to share with you the story of the construction of a high-speed train. This train is called a bullet train because its front is pointed and rounded like a bullet. But whenever it entered a tunnel, it would create a pressure wave, which caused a loud boom as it exited the tunnel, so a way to quiet the train was sought. Coincidentally, the chief engineer was also a bird watcher, and when observing a bird species called the kingfisher, he noticed that it moves through an environment of one density such as air, to an environment of another density like water, almost without splashing any of it. These features allowed them to see the fish while hunting. They designed the front part of the bullet train, inspired by the kingfisher’s beak. As a result, they succeeded in making a train that was 15% less electric and 10% faster, as well as a much quieter train.

We are not the only ones who want to protect ourselves from bacteria, there are no bacteria on the surface of the Galapagos shark, and no contamination. It’s not because bacteria can’t take hold due shark’s high speed, on the contrary, it’s a slow-swimming shark. It doesn’t use any chemicals either. The texture of the fabric with a special pattern in the Speedo swimsuits of the Olympic record-breaking swimmers is the same as the skin of this shark. It’s not a coincidence either. The structure of this pattern prevents bacteria from sticking. Currently, a company called Sharklet Technologies is applying it to surfaces in the hospital. Considering that many organisms become resistant to drugs over time, it’s clear that it’s better than spraying antibacterial chemicals. And the death toll from nosocomial infections in America is about 100,000 each year, more than AIDS, cancer, and car crashes combined.

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Finally, I invite you to read our other articles with Einstein’s words “Look deep into nature, then you will understand everything better”.

References and Further Reading

Acaroglu, L. (2017, September 13). Sustainable lifestyles? how design can lead us to a post-disposable society. Medium. Retrieved July 22, 2022, from

Archknow. (2017, April 20). Biomimicry in design – takeaways for a designer. Medium. Retrieved July 22, 2022, from

The beak that inspired a bullet train – biological strategy – asknature. AskNature The Beak That Inspired a Bullet Train Comments. (n.d.). Retrieved July 22, 2022, from

The Biomimicry Institute. Nature-Inspired Innovation . (n.d.). Retrieved July 22, 2022, from

voxdotcom. (2017, November 9). The world is poorly designed but copying nature helps. YouTube. Retrieved July 22, 2022, from

The proofreading has been done by Asu Pelin Akköse and Mete Esencan.

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Çiğdem Alkan

Hello, I'm Çiğdem Alkan. I am an undergraduate student at METU Chemistry Department. I love to learn about the different fields that chemistry can contribute to, and especially to explore issues related to nature and sustainability. I'm here to have fun while learning with you!

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