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In conversation with: Biomimetic design pioneer Michael Pawlyn

Prior to his keynote talk at Mix Design Collective 2019, we got a chance to sit down with biomimicry expert Michael Pawlyn to discuss recent projects including his work with Architects Declare, as well as his vision for the future of regenerative design.

14/01/2020 2 min read

Pawlyn initially became interested in biologically inspired design approaches while working on the Eden Project – particularly biomimicry. ‘It’s looking at how problems have been solved in nature and then we can make a translation from that into innovations that suit human needs. For me, it’s a really powerful and fascinating source of new ideas and solutions.’

‘There are examples of biomimicry in every field – probably the best known is Velcro, which was actually inspired by seed burs. In terms of architecture, I think the Eden Project is still probably the best-known. We looked at examples from biology all the way through that design process that helped us solve some of the technical challenges. It resulted in an incredibly lightweight enclosure that was a fraction of the weight of a traditional steel and glass approach, and a third of cost as well.’

We’re stuck with an incredible slow pace of change – and it’s no exaggeration that this will threaten the future of humanity.

His recent Sahara Project in Qatar is a scheme that is intended for dry and arid regions, bringing together various technologies, such as a greenhouse cooled and humidified by sea water (a process inspired by a Fog Basking Beetle.)

‘It’s about clever ways of bringing technologies together so they start to mimic the characteristics of eco systems. Overall, it’s a zero-waste system that is abundant and highly productive. That’s what we need to be doing cities and industries.’

Outlining his work with Architect’s Declare, Pawlyn discusses the need to mobilise architects and designers collectively to address the issues we are currently facing, as well as fundamentally shifting the way we think.

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