Myself and 3 other ASU Biomimicry students recently assessed where the fields of Biophilia and Biomimicry converge and diverge. We hope to publish our report on – so hold thumbs. Below is the actual report we have submitted.

Today, there is a plethora of “BIO” practices born out of the sustainable movement. For someone unfamiliar with their characteristics, it may be difficult to distinguish among them. Here we consider two such design practices, namely Biophilia and Biomimicry, and discuss the convergence and the divergence of these two fields.

By definition, Biophilia is “the urge to affiliate with other forms of life” whereas Biomimicry is the act of “learning from Nature and then emulating at the level of form, process and ecosystem to create more sustainable designs.” Both these fields originate from a deep appreciation of Nature and share an interest to reconcile our man-made designs with Nature. They gradually diverge in terms of their principles and application creating their own unique niche.

Biophilia goes deeper into the psychological realms of human-nature connection, to enhance human health and well-being as natural elements in our surroundings have been shown to reduce stress, improve cognitive performance and support positive emotions. Biomimicry on the other hand, looks to create innovative sustainable designs by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies. While the former ‘look & feels’ like Nature, the latter ‘behaves & functions’ like Nature.

Biomimicry is seen through 3 lenses; Emulate, Ethos and (Re)connect. (Re)connect is most closely associated with Biophilia which in turn influences our ethics of practice, but essentially, the practice lies in creating better designs inspired by nature, learning from Nature’s 3.8 billion years of research and development.

The philosopher Nietzsche suggested a holistic approach to design: “to see science under the lens of the artist, but art under the lens of life”. While Biomimicry takes a systematic approach, Biophilic design is primarily concerned with the positive psychological effects created by natural elements. Biophilic design can turn a Biomimetic design into an experience that is both emotional and meaningful to the human psyche while creating conditions conducive to life.

A coupling of biological connection and biological insight is not necessary in some examples of  biochemical or electronic applications, where Biophilia does not enhance Biomimicry. The best opportunities for coupling them is through the design of human solutions and built environments that encompass Biomimetic functional innovation while incorporating Biophilic patterns of nature.

In this way, we create high-performance designs that inspire and heal human occupants while also bringing about a deeper connection to Nature. 

Alienation from the natural world is but an illusion.



February 2018
Authors: A. Ionescu, A. Singhal, J. Welton, S.M. Van der Walt
#biophilia # biomimicry #sustainability #divergence #convergence