Biomimicry for Sustainable Urban Design

Oct 21 '13 5 Last Comment
Oct 21, 13 1:07 pm

I've  recently started working on my design thesis.It has to do with Biomimicry for Sustainable Urban design but in my case i'm looking at applying it to an urban Slum in Accra,Ghana.
The area in question is a lagoon catchment area with a slum bordering it.Anyone to direct me on good books and experts to look at? will be much obliged thanks.


Non Sequitur
Oct 21, 13 1:33 pm

I'll bite on this one seeing as I had directed my own graduate thesis (in it's early stages) to something along these lines. I hope I am not off-topic by suggesting that by bio-mimicry, you are referring to fractal design, if so, Tom Beddard has absolutely fascinating work.

Combine this with early theorists like Yona Friedman, Paolo Soleri, Team-10 and the mandatory Archigram group. I've also found , Fumihiko Maki's  "Investigations in Collective Form" and OMA's "Mutations" rather helpful. The latter has a brilliant section about the informal settlements in Lagos, Nigeria.

If I have hit your area of interest right, then I suggest you hunt down the following book:

De Wolfe, Ivor. Civilia: the End of Sub Urban Man; A Challenge to Semidetsia. London: The Architectural Press, 1971.

It is a great collection of urban planning from the late 60s using ideas from those I mention above.

Hope this helps, best of luck.

Oct 21, 13 1:59 pm

you should really take a critical look at the late 60s stuff - archigram's ideas tend to celebrate throw-away consumerism - yona friedman's work exists in a utopian society without property ownership.  IMO - Anything that relies on creating its own (often space-frame) infrastructure to work is going to highly problematic.


Anywyay - I'd also look at landscape urbanism and ecological urbanism.


And the classic "Design with Nature" by Ian McHarg

Non Sequitur
Oct 21, 13 2:15 pm

^agree with the Utopian idealism from some of my suggestions. It is one thing that caused me to vary away from these. I still think naively that there is something to be salvaged but perhaps not.

I still stand by Mutations though.

Oct 22, 13 11:55 am

thanks so much you all for the feedback.My take on biomimicry is more at the functioning to leverage ecosystem functioning ,processes and systems abstract them and apply in solving urban issues.For instance looking at the city or urban area more as a part of nature rather than apart .I'm looking at applying the life principles from Janine Benyus' book Biomimicry:Innovation Inspired by nature and HOK's design approaches.thanks for the input

Sep 9, 16 11:15 pm


I was researching on biomimicry and urbanism and came across this post. It is a topic that is very interesting to me. I am planning to pursue it for my thesis. I am interested in looking at the relationships between nature and humans, how they have evolved over time and how we associate with nature now. I am also interested in pushing the idea beyond just 'learning from nature' to 'living with/in nature' and hence also looking at biophilic cities. The intersection of nature, technology and design and its implications in the urban environment is something that i want to explore.

Would love if you could share resources / case studies / critical analyses of these topics.

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