Biomimicry- An answer to urban problems

Posted by Preethi Ravi
April 13, 2017

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Preethi Ravi

​What is the connection between an engineer and bird watching? It seems that based on deep observations and analysis of the natural world has led to sustainable innovation. Eiji Nakatsu, the man behind the Japan series Shinkansen bullet train, took cues from the Kingfisher’s beak to create the nose of the train. According  to the recent deal between Japan and India, Japan will help build India’s first bullet train that will run between Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

Taking cues from nature to build sustainable innovation is​ ​called Biomimicry. Biomimicry is an emerging approach for sustainable solutions to human challenges is to emulate nature’s time-tested phenomena, patterns and principles.  Biomimicry is an answer for technology, manufacturing, industry, environmental hazards and so on.

Seema Anand and Prashant Dhawan based in Bangalore  started The Biomimicry India Network​’ a network which aims to spread to spread awareness about biomimicry in India and provide a common platform to people who are interested in biomimicry to meet and cross pollinate ideas. ​

​It was started in the year 2012, with the objective of the network is to rediscover the genius of the region and the ‘ancient biomimicy practices of India. To reconnect with the rhythms of life. “Biomimicry India Network’s current activities involve creating awareness and dissemination of information​ ​about biomimicry through social media.  We also organise and conducts talks, workshops and events about biomimicry for the public as well as educational institutions. We also are involved in research to create content based on our bioregion. One of our focus areas for research is Biomimicry inspired ‘Smart Cities’,​”​says ​Seema.

Seema ​is a Biomimicry Specialist and a practicing architect where as Prashant an architect, who is currently pursuing the Biomimicry Professional Certification Program from theBiomimicry Institute.He has written on issues related to design and especially human centered design.

​Prashant talks about how a smart city concept should evolve​, “Indian architecture and cities should be firmly rooted in Indian ecology. This is especially relevant for Smart Cities. ‘Smart’ is an adjective traditionally used for living things and an attribute of living systems . Hence to understand smartness we need to learn from life. Deep ecological knowledge, contextual awareness, history and memory (we call it ‘genius of place’) should be the anchor to hold together the development of a Smart City; which otherwise is in danger of being incoherent as a whole, with each part trying to be the best in reference to external global reference points and out of sync with the local context.”

Smart city- t​he current project

The current project the team is working on is the Smart City. The team proposes a mission statement for Smart cities: “A Smart city will provide a healthy, nourishing, harmonious, self-maintaining (adaptive and evolving) environment where all life thrives and citizens enjoy sustainable happiness, while each pursuing work and lifestyle of choice,” says Prashant.

He further adds, “We suggest that for Smart Cities we need to first establish the centrality of ecology as against the current frameworks which have centrality of economic processes.”

The team has developed 3 Mantras for Smart thinking and the following framework to facilitate integrated thinking.1.Network ‘ism’ (all is connected),  Flows ‘ism’ (constant change, seamless integration) and Co-evolution ‘ism’ (change at one part/place affects and informs change in other parts/places )

Expert Talk: ​

Harish Bhat, scientist from IISc says Biomimicry in simple words is biology marring engineering. India is still in its nascent stage in recognizing biomimicry.”

Vijay Thiruvady is an advisor and mentor to the Biomimicry India Network. He is also a well known environment protector, who is  a trustee of Bangalore Enviornment Trust.  Vijay Thiruvady has always been interested in various aspects of nature and has been instrumental in bringing the connection and knowledge of nature to thousands people through the Green Heritage Walks in Lalbagh.


​There are a few companies in the city which emulate the biomimicry concept: ​

Interface, a global company which also has branches in the city, has a customer base of around 50 corporate companies ordering in for the carpet mimicked from nature. The cost of the carpet per square foot is about Rs.140. Observing the organic rhythms of a leaf-strewn forest floor, the company has innovated  i2, an innovative advancement in modular carpet tile design.  Another product, TacTiles is the proven glue-free installation system for the modular carpet tiles. Following the tenets of biomimicry, the design comes from the natures for inspiration and came across the gecko, a remarkable lizard that relies on the intermolecular force of more than a million tiny foot hairs to stick to surfaces at any angle. From this, it was developed a glue-free installation system that uses the inherent strength of backing to create a dimensionally stable floating floor




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