Will Biomimicry Offer a Way Forward, Post-Sandy?


As neighborhoods devastated by Hurricane Sandy begin drafting plans for reconstruction, some progressive architects and urban planners are arguing that the emerging science of biomimicry offers a way forward. The notion is that the next generation of waterfront designs could draw inspiration from the intricate ways that plants and animals have adapted to their situations over hundreds of millions of years.

Kapok trees, honeycombs and mangroves are just a few of the naturally occurring features or processes that have informed the designs of buildings from Haiti to South Korea to New York City in recent years.

“Nature is a dynamic entity, and we should be trying to design our buildings, our landscape and our cities to recognize that,” said Thomas Knittel, a biomimicry specialist at the prominent Seattle-based architecture firm HOK.

In Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital, for example, the rainy season and humid climate have been factored into the design of HOK’s Project Haiti, an orphanage that is to replace one ruined by the 2010 earthquake. Construction is to begin this spring, and the building should be completed later this year. The highly adaptable Caribbean kapok tree inspired Project Haiti’s functional design. Kapok trees store water internally and shed their leaves under drought conditions to conserve energy. Likewise, Project Haiti responds directly to the weather and maximizes available resources.

Written By: Sarah Amandolare
continue to source article at green.blogs.nytimes.com


  1. I didn’t think choice of building materials had anything to do with the occurrence of hurricanes in a particular area, I thought they were caused by homosexuals

  2. The Biomimicry angle is cool but I think there is another question that people who believe in reason and science should be asking in cases like this: “does it really make sense to rebuild?” This extreme weather is the new normal and even if we start getting serious about climate change its going to be the new normal for quite some time. I think we should take a serious look at some of the locations destroyed by the storm and ask “does it really make sense to put up another building there?” no matter how well designed some times its just not cost effective to try to fight things like rising sea levels.

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