The school of nature

How the wisdom of the natural world informs architecture.

Drawing inspiration from nature's designs and intricate systems, biomimetic architecture seeks to emulate, adapt, and integrate natural principles into the built environment. By observing the efficiency and adaptability of biological organisms and ecosystems, architects and engineers are reimagining conventional building techniques and materials and turning them into ‘naturally’ enhanced structures.


While this architectural approach may not yet be commonplace, there are a few beacons of biomimetic architecture across the globe. Here are five examples.


Quadracci Pavilion of the Milwaukee Art Museum


The Milwaukee Art Museum’s Quadracci Pavilion was designed by renowned architect Santiago Calatrava. The pavilion, which houses galleries, educational centres, theatres and a cafe, features a movable sunscreen with ‘wings’ that draw inspiration from birds. They open and close, and can be adjusted to regulate the amount of sunlight entering the building, providing natural light, regulating temperature and reducing the need for artificial lighting.


Eastgate Centre

The Eastgate Centre, designed by architect Mick Pearce, opened in 1996 in Harare, Zimbabwe, with a unique ventilation system based on the natural cooling system of termite mounds that passively and energy-efficiently ventilate and cool structures. Distinctive brick chimneys on the roof pull warm air upwards, while simultaneously drawing in cool night air from below. Underground gaps capture and store the cool air, which is then released into the building through networks of pipes and tunnels during the day.


Esplanade Theatre