This is a guest post written by Andy Boyd
Have you ever pictured what the high-rise buildings of the future might look like? If so, you’re not alone. One 21st Century movement (among others) which may give an indication as to what future architecture will look like, is bionic architecture; a movement that is more in tune with the natural earth.
Bionic architecture ignores the traditional rectangular format of buildings that we’ve been used to for so long and instead takes its design cues from the curved lines of biological structures and the natural world. The result is an array of some of the most unique buildings out there and some of the smartest – the designs are based on intricate mathematical and biological calculations.
So, without further ado, here’s a look at some of the most incredible examples of bionic architecture and some of the leading bionic architects in the world.
The Anti-Smog Building is one of the projects from Vincent Callebaut, a young French architect who is making some serious waves in the world of bionic architecture. It’s a mixed-use building, erected over abandoned railroad tracks in Paris and turned into useful recycled energy resources. A natural lagoon, as well as a rooftop view of Paris are both bonuses that make people want to spend time in this eco-friendly building. It is designed using green technologies that actually suck the smog from the city streets.
The Ascent at Roebling Bridge was constructed by Daniel Libeskind, an architect best known for winning the Masterplan competition to rebuild the World Trade Center in New York City. This building isn’t of quite such historic importance, but it reflects the architect’s goals in relation to bionic architecture. The sloping crescent roof takes design cues from the natural environment and also offer residents of the building an uncluttered view of the city. The natural tones of the building were specifically chosen to reflect the earth and sky of the area.
The Ark of the World building was created by Greg Lynn and is based on a type of architecture for which he coined the term ‘blobitecture‘. This type of building relies on the ‘blob-like’ shapes of amoebas and other naturally occurring forms to create the basic bulbous design of the buildings. One of the best examples of this is his plans for the Ark of the World, a building located in the Costa Rican rainforest which is planned to serve as an eco-center and location of eco-education. A tensile fabric roof serves as a platform for people interested in looking out over the rainforest and a column-based water garden keeps the place cool. The design of the building itself appears floral in nature, which is pretty damn cool.
Plans for the Bionic Tower in Shanghai started in 1997. Notwithstanding this, it took some time to overcome the challenges faced by technology with early bionic architecture. In essence, this tower is intended to be a vertical city; an eco-city in which all of the needs of the people could be met by the building itself. Shanghai has been the city most interested in taking on this project, yet it isn’t clear whether it will ever move out of just the concept phase.
The City Hall design comes from Norman Foster’s firm Foster and Partners, who believe that the world can be changed by changing the design of the places in which we live. This building is intended to represent and inspire the forward motion of the democratic process in London. It is a mostly non-polluting building, constructed of sustainable materials.
The National Space Centre is a UK tourist attraction built by architect Nicholas Grimshaw. It was one of the first examples of bionic architecture to be built in the world. It relies on a design of lightweight steel and includes a rocket tower featuring a space-age skin of ETFE cushions. This design allows for a minimal use of building materials in the creation of a sturdy building.
The Turning Torso is the tallest building in Scandinavia and was created by Santiago Calatrava, an architect who has taken a lot of flak from people who say that his designs aren’t realistic. There is some concern over the longevity of his designs, despite the fact that they are built in such a way as to feature traits natural to the environment. It is unclear at this point whether or not those fears are warranted. What is clear, is that he’s got a unique design perspective that is featured in buildings (such as this one) located all around the world.
The Selfridges Building by architect Jan Kaplicky features a curvaceous space-age design that epitomizes what the aesthetic goal of bionic architecture is all about. Completed in 2003, it remains one of the leading forward-thinking buildings out there.
The tensile fabric roof of Denver International Airport is designed to imitate the naturally occurring beauty of the Rocky Mountains. As the largest airport in the United States and one poised for expansion, it reflects a mixture of historic and modern architecture.
The Urban Cactus is a 19-storey residential building, shaped in a way that is inspired by an irregular pattern of outdoor spaces. Natural sunlight and a unique design on the harbor give it the semblance of bionic architecture and of course its interesting and curvy aesthetics make it an appealing building. However, it’s not 100% green or sustainable, therefore it only gets an honorable mention on most bionic architecture lists.
The Jumptown Building aims to become the greenest building in the already-green city of Portland, Oregon. It’s already getting assistance from leading Malaysian architect Ken Yeang. Green features of this design include solar power, sewage and storm water recycling, use of sustainable materials and a unique garden design which turns a rooftop garden into one which cascades down the side of the building.
Treescraper Tower of Tomorrow leading architect William McDonough shows his commitment to creativity, intelligent building and designs that feed ecosystems. As the name suggests, this is a skyscraper that has been designed in a way that mimics the growth and change of a tree. A curved, aerodynamic building, it uses minimal construction materials, while making maximum use of the enclosed space. All of the water in the building is recycled in a manner similar to that of how a tree would re-use water and nutrients. Wastewater from sinks flows into the building’s three gardens and the water from the gardens is subsequently re-used in the toilets. It should go without saying that it uses solar electricity and is made completely of recyclable materials.