Posts tagged with "biomimicry":

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Shanghai Talks> Watch SOM’s top sustainable engineer talk air quality, environmental design

Last September, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat invited me to serve as the special media correspondent for its Shanghai symposium, entitled Future Cities: Towards Sustainable Vertical Urbanism. I conducted video interviews with dozens of architects, developers, building managers, and others on topics relevant to tall building design and sustainable urbanism. Among the many designers, engineers and other tall building types I interviewed was Luke Leung, director of sustainable engineering for SOM. In Shanghai's Jin Mao Tower (an SOM building), we talked air quality, sustainable design metrics, and whether humanity might be able to build ourselves out of the environmental mess we find ourselves in. "The tall building can help to create better health and potentially less carbon emissions in the city per capita," Leung said, but he added it's important to address the issue holistically. We need to reduce emissions associated with embodied carbon, transportation carbon and operating carbon, Leung said: “We need to strike to make those three components to be all approaching net-zero.” Asked if LEED is still the best way to rank green buildings, Leung acknowledged shortcomings in how we talk about sustainable design. “It's amazing that the focus is on energy and water, while the building is designed for human beings,” he said. And he called for more attention to human-centric systems that address human health: “From that standpoint all the green building systems, they have room for improvement, but LEED is one that starts addressing some of those issues.” Finally, in light of technological progress, Leung stressed humility before nature. “[To] go back and listen to the basic laws of nature is our best bet,” Leung said. “But that time is limited.” Watch more videos on CTBUH’s website, and on YouTube. You can subscribe to their monthly video series here.
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Biomimicry guides the design of Shanghai’s new nautilus-shaped museum of natural history

This weekend a Shanghai museum got a new home, and its design takes a major cue from nature. The Shanghai Natural History Museum wraps 479,180 square feet of exhibition space with facades inspired by the elements, natural phenomena, and the biological structure of cells. Perkins + Will designed the structure, which expresses architectural themes found in nature. A green roof rises from the site plan, spiraling logarithmically like the shell of a nautilus. A 100-foot-tall atrium rises within that organizing geometry, transmitting natural light through a craggy lattice that mimics the shape and organization of living cells. Nature inspired the design of the building's other facades, too. Its eastern face is a living wall, complementing a north-facing facade of stone that the architects said suggests shifting tectonic plates and canyon walls eroded by rivers. The interaction of natural elements is also meant to invoke traditional Chinese landscape architecture. “The use of cultural references found in traditional Chinese gardens was key to the design,” Ralph Johnson, principal at Perkins + Will, said in a press release. “Through its integration with the site, the building represents the harmony of human and nature and is an abstraction of the basic elements of Chinese art and design.”

Though it sits within Shanghai's Jing An Sculpture Park, the building is designed to be more than inhabited art. It recycles rainwater through its green roof and minimizes solar gain using an intelligent building skin, while its oval courtyard pond helps cool the building. Geothermal energy regulates the building's temperature.

The museum's collection comprises some 290,000 samples, including a complete, 140-million-year-old skeleton of the dinosaur Mamenchisaurus, and species which cannot be found outside China, such as Yellow River mammoth, giant salamander, giant panda, and Yangtze Alligator. Situated in Shanghai's Cotton Exchange Building since 1956, the natural history museum leaves its historic home for a building with 20 times the exhibition space and a design that looks forward, as well as back through the eons.
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Biomimetic Pyramid by Burkett Design/Studio NYL

Plate tectonics, honeycombs inspire new Denver Botanic Gardens research center.

For their new Science Pyramid, the Denver Botanic Gardens sought a design that delivered more than just aesthetic impact. "They wanted an icon, but they also wanted to show an icon can be high performance," said Chris O'Hara, founding principal of Studio NYL. Studio NYL and its SKINS Group worked with architect Burkett Design and longtime Botanic Gardens general contractor GH Phipps to craft a structure to house the institution's conservation and research efforts. "People think of the Botanic Gardens as a beautiful place to go, but what most of them don't realize is what happens behind the scenes," said O'Hara. "The whole concept was to showcase that, and to educate the public not just about what the Botanic Gardens are doing, but a little more about their environment." Clad in a Swisspearl rain screen that serves as both roof and wall, the Science Pyramid's biomimetic design reconsiders the relationship between the built and natural worlds. Tasked with building a pyramidal structure with dynamic glass elements, the Burkett Design team turned to two natural metaphors. The first was the tectonic shifts that created Colorado's mountains, the second, the defensive structures built by honeybees. The geological metaphor influenced the building's form, a twisting, reaching variation on a pyramid designed to take full advantage of its site. The biological metaphor informed the building's skin, dominated by cement composite panels cut into honeycomb-like hexagons.
  • Facade Manufacturer Swisspearl (rain screen), View (glazing), Cosella-Dörken (weather and air barrier systems)
  • Architects Studio NYL's SKINS Group (facade designer), Burkett Design (architect)
  • Facade Installer NDF Construction (cladding), Alliance Glazing Technologies (glazing), Roadrunner Fabrication (perforated metal panels), United Materials (weather and air barriers)
  • Location Denver, CO
  • Date of Completion September 2014
  • System FRC rain screen roof and walls with electrochromic glazing and high performance insulation
  • Products Swisspearl rain screen, View dynamic glass, Cosella-Dörken weather and air barrier systems, Cascadia Clip fiberglass thermal spacers
Though they originally imagined a heavily glazed facade, Studio NYL soon realized that transparency would be impractical, given the projection elements involved in the Science Pyramid's exhibits. They opted instead for a rain screen system comprising custom-cut Swisspearl panels. The rain screen reduces thermal gain by venting hot air before it reaches the building. It encases the roof as well as the facade's vertical elements, the second such use of Swisspearl panels worldwide, and the first in the United States. "Here you don't hear about rain screen roofs often," said O'Hara. "Using the technology as a roof system was a little different." Because they still wanted some glass, Studio NYL incorporated electrochromic glazing from View. "They can tune the building—the user has a flip switch to black it out," explained O'Hara. "At the same time, you can have a visual connection to the gardens." To further boost performance, Studio NYL worked with Cosella-Dörkin to layer a UV resistant weather barrier system under the open joint rain screen. "Whereas the form was about this iconic, biomimetic structure, on a technical level, everything was about performance," said O'Hara. Fabrication and installation were complicated by two factors: a compressed timeline, and a need to work around the Botanic Gardens' ongoing operations. To help with the former, the Burkett Design team leaned heavily on digital fabrication, including having the structural steel digitally cut. As for the latter, the construction crew was forced to develop creative solutions to spatial restrictions. "There were a lot of logistical problems given that we were in the center of an active botanic garden," said O'Hara, noting that only machinery below a certain size could be brought to the site. "The primary axis we had could only go up twelve feet, to the extent that we were pushing tree branches out of the way with a broom." The design-build team came through in the end. "It's really quite spectacular," said O'Hara. But while the Science Pyramid achieves the landmark status the Botanic Gardens had hoped for, it nonetheless defers to its context—the gardens themselves. "The building is very oriented to the paths you take," said O'Hara. "Everything has a different moment. If you enter one way, you see the glass spine; if you come another, you see the canopy. It's playing constantly against the juxtaposed landscape."