Future building design can benefit from 3.8billion year R&D programme

Press Release
4 October 2011

Buildings of the future must look to nature for inspiration if we are to reduce the use of increasingly scarce resources and produce truly sustainable architecture. This is the central theme of Michael Pawlyn’s new book Biomimicry in architecture which has just been published.

Michael, Director of Exploration Architecture, was part of the core team at Grimshaw responsible for the design of the Eden Project in Cornwall - one of the world’s most famous examples of building design based on processes from the natural world.

With a foreword by Jonathon Porritt, Founder Director of Forum for the Future, Biomimicry in achitecture is a book of solutions rather than theories, and suggests that designers have much to learn from a resource of ideas that has "benefited from a 3.8 billion year research and development period".

Examples from nature as diverse as Namibian fog-basking beetles, polar bear hairs, birds’ nests and abalone shells are used to demonstrate how building design can contribute towards the three major changes that Pawlyn sees as vital to securing the future of humanity:

These are supported by a series of case studies from around the world showing how architects and engineers have successfully incorporated the principles of biomimcry into a range of projects from bridges to theatres, and from one-off buildings to entire cities.

Commenting on the publication of the book, author Michael Pawlyn said:

"We need to redefine what we mean by sustainable design of buildings. Much of what is described as environmentally sustainable or ‘green’ architecture currently is about mitigation, but biomimcry offers designers the opportunity to go much further and for buildings and cities to become regenerative. In some cases, buildings will cease to be static consumers and can actually become net producers of useful resources. This book sets out how we can achieve this."

Biomimicry in architecture tackles six key areas of building design: building efficient structures, the manufacture of materials, the creation of zero-waste systems, water management, thermal control and energy production. Each chapter describes and illustrates how a deeper understanding of the principles that govern the natural world can influence all aspects of the built environment and bring great benefits to the human race.

Biomimicry in architecture was published on 29 September 2011 by RIBA Publishing. The book is available from RIBA Bookshops or online at www.ribabookshops.com.

– Ends –

For further information please contact:

Robert Pine/Katie Parker-Muir
T: 020 7247 8334
E: Robert@ing-media.com/katie@ing-media.com

Notes to Editors


Michael Pawlyn set up Exploration Architecture in 2007 to focus on radical approaches to environmental sustainability.

From 1997 to 2007 he worked with Grimshaw Architects and was part of the core team of architects that designed the Eden Project. He was responsible for leading the design of the Biomes and a number of other projects that explored innovative approaches to sustainability.

He has extensive experience of working on buildings for the arts both in his capacity as an architect and as an environmental consultant. He has lectured widely on the subject of sustainable design in the UK and abroad and in May 2005 delivered a talk at the Royal Society of Arts with Ray Anderson, CEO of Interface. In May 2009 he opposed the renowned environmental sceptic, Bjorn Lomborg, at the BCO conference in Edinburgh. In 2011 Michael became the latest in a small handful of architects that have succeeded in having one of their talks - Using nature's genuis in architecture -  posted on the TED.com website.

In 2006 he was appointed to represent Grimshaw as a Founder Member of the UK Green Building Council and in 2007 was elected as a committee member of ‘The Edge’, a think-tank dedicated to addressing important political, social and professional issues. He has taught on a number of courses at Schumacher College with some of the world’s leading figures in the field of sustainable design and is currently working on the ambitious ‘Sahara Forest Project’.