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Biomimicry / Natural World

Trim Tab 24 / Net zero water at Bertschi School

  Trim Tab v 24  The Water Issue – Winter 2015 issue of the International Living Future Institute’s quarterly digital magazine focuses on water, on “people and projects that are rethinking how water is used in the built environment…” Among its many good articles is one called Bertschi School: The Water Petal about the science …

The best of space and sky, APOD

  Cap Cloud over the Sierra Nevadas – today’s Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) is by Guido Montanes, one of the many professional photographers whose work is posted on APOD.  You’ll find a brief explanation of this unusual cloud phenomenon in the photo’s caption. If you’re interested in astronomy, …

Light pollution and the decline of starry nights

    Opinion: Bright Nights, Big Problems – recent opinion piece in National Geographic on the growing rarity of true darkness, due primarily to our unthinking use of artificial light.   Because of the rapid growth of light pollution over recent decades, most Americans under 40 have never known real …

Rudolf Steiner and organic architecture

  Architecture: Steiner – editorial on WAN (World Architecture News) about wholeness in architecture, particularly in the work of the Austrian “scientist, philosopher, and writer Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925)” who designed and built the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland that is familiar to students of architecture around the world.  A link in the …

World’s greenest office building?

  A Building Not Just Green, but Practically Self-Sustaining – the about-to-open Bullitt Center in Seattle hopes to be “the world’s greenest” office building.  It’s aiming for certification with the Living Building Challenge, “the built environment’s most rigorous performance standard” and which requires 12 months of continuous occupancy to qualify.  The article …

It’s National Engineers Week!

Quick, how many engineers or engineering firms can you name?  If you’re having a little trouble, now’s your chance to become more aware of the huge contribution these inventive thinkers make to our built environment. Here are a couple of links with practical information on what engineers do and what …

Designing with the land for Indian development

  Biomimicry used as a guiding force to design Lavasa Township – post on World Architecture News’ Metroblogs about HOK’s award-winning masterplan for 12,500-acre town of Lavasa, near Mumbai.   The development is expected to [be] complete in the year 2020 and will include five planned urban villages that can accommodate …

Firefly-like structure brightens LEDs

  Fireflies Inspire Brighter LEDs – using the jagged scales on a firefly’s abdomen as a guide, researchers from Belgium, France, and Canada have developed an overlay for LED’s that increases light output by 55%.  Via ThomasNet’s Industry Market Trends.   … the jagged-scale modification can be made post-production on conventional LEDs. …

Interview with Pritzker-winning Wang Shu

  China’s Wang Shu: From builder to Pritzker-winning architect – the first Chinese architect to be awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize talks about traditional Chinese architecture, the importance of nature, and applying those traditional principles and methods in his own projects. … if you look at Chinese traditional buildings, you …

Phi design software

    Check out PhiMatrix, software that applies the principles of Phi, the Golden Ratio – PhiMatrix is a design and analysis software application for Windows and Mac.  The PhiMatrix grid system quickly overlays any image in any software on your screen to identify or apply phi proportions in various …

The Importance of Soil and Its Conservation

The Importance of Soil and Its Conservation [Video] – this 5+ min video is packed with statistics about soil and how we use and thoughtlessly misuse this most valuable of resources.  See more at Global Soil Forum, a European partnership that recently sponsored the first Global Soils Week.  The Global Soil …

Plant Communication

  The Secret Life of Plants: Plant Communication – scientists may discover the physiology behind the old adage that talking to your plants makes them grow better.  This article gives a brief overview of the different ways plants communicate – autosignaling (within themselves), plant-insect, and plant-plant communication. Though plants do not …

Best Northern Lights in 50 years

  Nature’s Disco: See the Northern Lights – the 4:26-min video clip in this post is definitely worth a look, especially for those of us who’ve never seen the this amazing phenomenon in real life.  Photo Credit: Moyan_Brenn/flickr Scientists predict this winter to be the best in 50 years to experience …

Self-healing skin-like materials

    The bleeding edge of self-healing skin-like materials – BBC post about research being done by U of Illinois engineer Nancy Sottos on self-healing polymers. Inspired by human skin, Sottos creates plastics that “bleed” when cut and can heal themselves over and over again. Her work is paving the way for …

India’s root bridges

  Post on the Blog of the Long now, India’s Living Bridges, is about traditional bridges grown from roots in Northeast India.  Check out the 4:30-min clip and the link to more images on Atlas Obscura’s website (a site that’s definitely worth a look).   The root bridges, some of which are …

People love blue / Structural blue

    Fascinating article from The New York Times, True Blue Stands Out in an Earthy Crowd, with observations of interest to designers: In healthcare: Sick children like their caretakers in blue: A recent study at the Cleveland Clinic found that young patients preferred nurses wearing blue uniforms to those …

Eco-Health Relationship Browser

Interactive tool from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “illustrates the linkages between human health and ecosystem services—benefits supplied by Nature.”  It shows the relationship between an ecosystem (say, a forest), the “service” provided by that ecosystem (air filtration), and its health benefits as described in studies.  Saw it on …