In a world in search of a more environmentally friendly existence, where best to look for inspiration than nature itself? This is where Biomimicry – the practice of looking for solutions to problems through studying natural systems and designs – comes into its own.

Biomimicry is more than the name suggests. In fact, it promotes emulating over simply mimicking. For centuries, nature has played a leading role as an inspirational model of innovation. From Leonardo Da Vinci to Albert Einstein and Buckminster Fuller, the genius of nature has been a muse for mankind’s own greatness to flourish. Today, we live in a world which is critically trying to find a more sustainable future and yet Biomimicry is still, in many ways, a very niche subject, practised by the few and often overlooked by the design profession as a purely scientific inaccessible methodology.

This is why, back in November 2016, we launched our 4th international ideas and design competition with the aim of challenging the international creative community to submit nature-inspired designs to address man-made problems. ‘Biomimicry: Design Innovation Inspired by Nature’ ran for four months and attracted hundreds of participants from all around the world. The aim of the competition was to make Biomimicry accessible for designers. The proposals submitted showcased a real variety of ideas in multiple fields, which ranged from product design, fashion, mobility, technology, architecture and large scale urban concepts. In turn, this underlined how nature can be a critical element in all aspects and scales of design.

Now, the jury of experts and the general public have finally voted, and we are happy to formally announce the winner and awarded entries of this international challenge!


Winner
Symbiotic Architecture: Space of Emotional Saturation
by Karina Ashrapova (Russia)

In this winning design, Karina imagines a more organic model for mankind, as she challenges the idea of humans – an organic being – living in highly artificial environments we call cities. In her beautifully presented and highly captivating drawings, Karina shows us a conceptual alternative to our urban fabric. It is easy to be drawn in by Karina’s vision, but what makes her proposal truly inspirational is how, beyond aesthetics, there is a deep, rigorous analysis of how nature actually organises and designs itself. All in all, this makes Karina’s Symbiotic Architecture stand out from the crowd and show us how, no matter the complexities of the problem, if we dare dream a little, nature can be a fundamental guide in showing us previously unimaginable realities. We are sure that if we were to ask nature, “How would you design the ultimate city?”, the answer would be: “Ask Karina!”.


Runner-Up
Nautile
by Gillian Graves and Michka Mélo (France)

Gillian and Michka’s proposal Nautile seeks to redesign an ordinary product – a kettle – in an extraordinary way. Nautile is the result of what happens when a design team dissects an everyday appliance to highlight its faults (in this case one of the most used yet energy inefficient products in our households) and re-engineers it through the study of specific elements found in nature. It is a hybrid of concepts – from Toucan beaks to Termite mounds and even Polar bears – which work together in symbiosis, resulting in a pretty thought-out and cool design. The outcome: a kettle which uses 80% less energy and accessorises your home in the process. Sitting at the opposite end of the size scale to our winning proposal, Gillian and Michka show us that even mundane products can be revolutionised into beautiful and – perhaps most importantly – more environmentally friendly designs when we look at nature for inspiration.


People’s Choice Award
Berkeley Aquatic Park Algae Energy Pavilion
by Chloe Huang and Oscar Huang (USA)

In parallel to the jury voting, we give the chance for the public to vote for their particular favourite projects, who then go on to win the People’s Choice Award. In this competition, the winning team comprises of Chloe and Oscar, who won the public over with their design for an energy-generating aquatic pavilion for Berkeley, California. The pavilion – designed to mimic a willow branch – harnesses solar energy through a process known as Algae Biofuel Process in a series of diamond-shaped components containing PV cells and live algae. In doing so, power is produced and an attractive sculptural piece for the park is created.


Honorable Mentions

The six honourable mentions selected by our jury of experts show a true variety of nature-inspired innovation and are a real testament of how Biomimicry can be used as a key tool for designers engaging in contemporary problems.

In Project Breathe, Amber Goveas (Canada) takes inspiration from lichens to produce an organic facade designed to act as a filtering system for air pollution in our neighbourhoods, encourage biodiversity, and hold shelters for the homeless community.

Rachael Meyer, Alexandra Ramsden, Jennifer Barnes and Michele Richmond’s (USA) project Rain Bellows proposes a pluvial pocket for buildings in Seattle, USA, inspired by the Common Ice Plant.

Despina Linaraki’s (Greece) Symbiosis looks at tackling the expansion of Mumbai, India, and is inspired by coral reefs to design a new amphibious urban typology.

Jori Erdmanand and Christopher James’ (USA) OysTower study oysters – amongst other things – as a model for marshland coastal architecture.

In his product-design project Folium, Brook Kennedy (USA) shows us how an everyday problem can be solved by looking at nature, in his leaf-inspired water-repellant bicycle seat which guarantees a soggy-free ride around town.

In Circle of Life, Vicky Chan, Gordon Laplante, Erica Wong and Leo Lei (USA) show us a cradle-to-cradle concept of organic architecture based on the natural cycle of both trees and humans.

Thank you to all of our amazing designers who participated in Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature, and thank you to all of our jury members. It has been a fantastic competition, with each proposal being inspirational in its own unique way. For more information on the competition, and to see the full variety of projects, please click here.

Interested in joining a competition? Be sure to check out our latest design and architecture competitions and join one for a chance at showcasing your talent and winning amazing prizes. Click here and see what’s on at the moment.


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What’s the best way of getting inspired by nature? Get stuck in the genius of nature with a life changing Safari of course! Click here to visit our friends at African Bush Camps, the world leaders in safari expeditions and creators of the ‘Super Sensory’ and the ‘Biomimicry’ Safaris. Your African adventure is calling and your must-have G&T sundowners are waiting for you…