As my interest has grown even greater in biomimicry and specifically the functional approach to biomimicry, I decided to get a book out on the subject. I didn't know what book I wanted to take out exactly so I thought the best option was just to search: 'biomimicry design' into the library. Not a method I would recommend and not one I used for any other the books I have taken out which have either been recommended or cited in something I was reading online. The book I chose to take out was Biomimicry in Architecture. For some reason I keep stumbling back into the field of architecture when it comes to greener design but the book definitely has some great resources, explanations and examples.
Pawlyn (2011) talks about the abundancy in nature and describes nature as "a great opportunist". He speaks about the autoplastically of nature and how if there is an unexploited resource something will come around to make use of it or an ecosystem that is already in existence will evolve to take advantage of this resource.
On the other had, in the famous words of Sebastian the Crab from Disney's The Little Mermaid: The Human World, It's a mess'. I don't know if life under the sea is any better because we polluted, endangered or written off species and created 'dead zones' with our carelessness. We have chosen to evolve alloplastically and transformed our earth for our needs. We forcing our ecosystem to be linear when it is naturally closed loop.
We are employing a cradle to grave life cycle for products, with the grave being waste. Waste is often interpreted as a dirty word but maybe we need a re-think. Maybe we first need to understand how we interpret waste and how we can change that initially perception to an optimistic, opportunistic way of thinking. Pawlyn (2011) says there are two ways of reading waste. The first is the dismissive viewpoint that views waste as a "worthless" material. The second is almost revolutionary in perceiving waste as merely "a lost opportunity". We are designers must see the possibilities when no one else can. When hope is lost for those in need we kind of have to be the light at the end of the tunnel. We, like nature, must be opportunists.
The book also gives some great examples of where this has been achieved and how individuals and companies have endorsed this change from linear to closed loop thinking to benefit themselves and, most importantly, stamp out of significantly reduce there waste. One is the 'Cardboard to Cavier' case study that was held in my neck of the woods in the Calderdale/Kirklees area while the other was created by a clever ol' man named George Chan. This complex but waste reducing system helped him produce 12 products rather than 1, create 7x more food, fuel and fertilizer, create 4x as many job opportunities and help solve his waste issue. 'Good beer, no pollution, more sales and more jobs".
As demonstrated by my crude doodle, George Chan had a problem. His brewery was creating a lot of waste both from the waste water and the waste barley, rye and grains that are used in the process. Instead of ignoring the issue at hand Chan saw an opportunity and took it. The waste water was used to cultivate spirulina, which he fed to fish, who laid eggs, that he sold to the cavier market. Incredible, right? He didn't stop there. The 'waste' grain was found to be perfect for planting fungi with 1 tonne of fungi being produced from 4 tonne of grain. The mycelium (there it is again) from the fungi was fed to worms, who were fed to chickens who produced manure which went to an anaerobic digester than created gas for the brewery. Mimicking the ecosystem benefited both Chan greatly and almost eradicated his waste.
Design is as much critical thinking as any other subject and we must create revolutionary solutions to fix our mess. For this project I'm going to not have to think outside the box but, take apart and re-create the box to find more opportunities within it.
Pawlyn, Michael. Biomimicry In Architecture. [London, UK]: Riba Publishing, 2011. Print.
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