As pointed out by one of the greatest physicists of this century, Freeman Dyson: “It has become part of the accepted wisdom to say that the twentieth century was the century of physics and the twenty-first century will be the century of biology… Biology is also more important than physics, as measured by its economic consequences, by its ethical implications, or by its effects on human welfare.” [i] In the natural ecology system, performance is the overarching goal of all independent parts and the system, all organisms and structures; it is also the underlying measurement to determine the opportunity for survival and evolvement. Biomimicry argues that nature is the best, most influencing and the guaranteed source of innovation for designers, as a result of nature’s 3.85 billion years of evolution, as it holds vast experience in solving problems of the environment and its inhabitants. [ii] Architects have been looking to nature for solutions to their complicate condition about needs for more innovative structures, and they have started to benefit from mimicking the forms, shapes from nature to create more efficient sand resilient structure to fit different programmatic needs.
Performance-driven design is based on understanding that architectures or structures unfold their performative capacity by being integrated in a system, which could be a single building or a nested group of buildings. [[i]] The relationship between building’s primary framework-structures and external environment factors is set on a spatial organizational level, materials and patterns of individual elements are secondary. When we define the performance of building’s primary organization we should take into consideration material-specific exterior-to-interior relations, as well as the order and hierarchy of form – to function extension, and all those above live within a dynamic environment.
In reality, the majority of today’s designs are perceived and achieved as discrete objects, and performances of the building have been divided into separate categories and measured by separate metrics: energy performance, material performance, structural performance, aesthetic performance and occupancy satisfaction are designed and measured individually. One of the most fundamental consequences of the dominance of isolation and individual measurement is that the building performance could only be locked in the stringent definition between the natural versus man-made, quantitative versus qualitative. Unlike in the nature, the efficient, safe and aesthetically pleasing structure can be found everywhere and the attributes are always regarded as a whole. The challenge of learning from nature, however, is to quantify these understand of the natural form and derive the structural behavior from it and modify, adapt to buildings. “These organically-inspired structural systems typically exhibit intersecting aesthetic qualities which are not necessarily intuitive.” [[ii]] In some projects, individual performance metrics have been blended better than in others; two approaches within structural design have particularly shown a promising model for how performance could serve as a linkage among all concerns, including energy, functionality, stability and constructability. The two approaches are form-finding and material-centric.
[i] Hensel, Michael. “Performance-Oriented Architecture.” Willey and Son, 2013.
[ii] Sarkisian, M., P. Lee, E. Long, and D. Shook. "Organic and Natural Forms in Building Design." Structures Congress 2010 (2010)
[i] Dyson, Freeman. "Our Biotech Future." The New York Review of Books. July 19, 2007. Accessed September 19, 2016. http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2007/07/19/our-biotech-future/.
[ii] Benyus, Janine M. Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature. New York: Morrow, 1997.