As our planet evolves and develops, concerns regarding sustainability are surfacing with more fervor than we have ever seen. The answer to our environmental quandaries has been right under foot the whole time. The genius of nature is the ever present resource mine we need to enhance life in a space of limited renewables and available space. Biomemetic designs, the mimicking of biological processes and functions to be adapted to human life, has inspired several spell bounding designs that will make you think the future doesn’t look so far away anymore. Even large corporations are jumping on board for future developments similar to the new Cummin’s Indianapolis headquarters set to move from Columbus. Instead of fighting nature to build new developments, now bio is better.
If you can think of an issue, nature has an answer. Design firms, architects, biologist, and beyond have honed in on the next big move in sustainable functionality. Concept designs for both land and sea have blown open the possibilities to both innovate and improve anything and everything. In real estate collections of living spaces mimicking the designs of termite home building have been implemented to give us what we truly need and what we want in one beautiful package.
A project in Delhi, India is utilizing this technique in their Hyperions eco-neighborhood and the results are stunning. Using the termite design the structure uses “vertical circulation cores of wind chimneys” to take advantage of the Earth’s thermal inertia resulting in temperature control without air-conditioning or heating! A large orchard on the structure’s rooftop serves as a community meeting space. The cross laminated timber making up the majority of the 36 story garden towers allows for an enormous reduction in the environmental footprint versus concrete and steel.
These brilliant designs are not only suitable for companies or residences. The famed ecological architect Vincent Callebaut, also responsible for Hyperion, has unveiled the Dragonfly concept to combat farming and food restrictions in urban areas. The creation of a completely self-sustaining building that simultaneously redefines the “skyscraper” is as enticing as it is beneficial. This vertical farm is made of two towers connected in the middle by a stretched greenhouse.
The metal and glass “wings” of the Dragonfly house the animal and plant farms while exterior gardens filter rain water and reuses any waste for further farming needs. The natural ventilation and plant evapo-perspiration provided by the exoskeleton support heating and cooling in the winter and summer months. It’s possible that you could find a Dragonfly farm in Dubai or New York in the near future.
If land and sky aren’t futuristic enough for your imagination there are also underwater and floating worlds in the planning process. Increasing concern about potential flooding and lack of land for development has shifted minds towards the ocean for more livable space. The most eye catching of these outside the box concept designs, Lilypad, has been presented by the now familiar Vincent Callebaut. A number of designs utilize the waves for energy while being zero emission.
The Seasteading Institute, a non-profit think tank, is racing to complete the first independent functional “seastead” off the coast of a host nation. Requirements listed to qualify as the first include: “at least 50 full time residents, real estate on the open market, de-facto political autonomy, and financial self-sufficiency”.
The global trade network potential in combination with healthcare innovation destinations, the ocean functioning as the largest solar panel available and remarkable self-sustainability may lead this evolution into our everyday lives. Not only will these “seasteads” benefit residents, they also taut a “business park, research institute, aquaculture, tourism, and a power plant to sell clean water and energy to their host nation”. This integrated relationship with a host nation makes the design even more intriguing to watch bloom. Currently the concept is on track with it’s goal to launch their first floating city as close as 2020.
Will the ocean be our new final frontier?