Biologist and innovator Janine Benyus coined the term biomimicry as the practice of applying learnings from the natural world to man-made endeavors. Hundreds of examples exist, from the design of Japan’s bullet train to the origins of Velcro.
One the most successful biomimetic projects to date, the Bullitt Center, opened in Seattle, WA on Earth Day 2013. Located in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, the Bullitt Center was modeled after the Douglas fir forest that once stood where the building stands today. Like a forest, the building uses no more water than it can harvest from natural rainfall, and no more electricity than it can generate by harvesting solar and wind power.
Here’s how it works:
An expansive roof mirrors the surface area of a forest canopy, allowing the building to harvest solar power and rainwater. Small holes in the roof simulate the mottled sunlight of a forest canopy, allowing light to filter to the street and into the building.
Window blinds automatically open and close to regulate the building’s heat, the way leaves adjust to maximize or minimize exposure to sun. Hover over the image to see how the blinds mimic tree leaves.
Open windows and natural ventilation also help regulate the building’s temperature, mimicking the ventilation of an open forest. Hover over the image to see how the windows mimic an open forest.