The recent winners of the Autodesk-sponsored Biomimicry Student Design Challenge come from the Art Institute of Isfahan in Iran. The team set out to use biomimicry-inspired design to reduce energy use in a building designed for Iran’s harsh desert climate. The result, inspired by the desert snail, is the Bio-Arch, which minimizes the surface area exposed to solar radiation with curved surfaces and shading. Learn more about their sustainable design approach and use of Autodesk® Ecotect® Analysis software to achieve winning results.
- 1. Summary One third of the planet earth consists of hot and dry (arid) areas, locating mostlyin the latitude of 30 degrees from equator to the north and south. Approximately70% of Iran is located in such climate, and subsequently, a large number of cities andvillages are situated in the extreme conditions of deserts. High temperature isconsidered to be the major issue that the living creatures of desert should deal with.For humans, therefore, a good shelter in arid areas is the one that could protectthem from the intense sunlight, provide them with moisture and ventilation as well.However, this could mean great amount of energy consumption which is generallyof the fossil type, which in turn translates into negative impacts on the environmentand global warming. This design aims at creating an architectural form that canimprove the living conditions in arid areas, through mimicking the shell of snails thatlive in desert. The advantages that the snails form provides for its inhabitant can beemployed in architecture as a solution towards providing human comfort as well aslessening energy consumption. The question is how nature makes life possible in hot and dry climate, where thesunlight, extreme dryness and hot winds together contribute in making it harder. Tofind the answer, we took a look at different types of creatures living in this condition.Two general categories of living creatures could be identified in desert: one is thoseliving and walking on the surface such as camel, porcupine and snail; the other isthose living underground most of the time to provide themselves comfortableconditions. Among all these, we focused on the snail because of its amazing formand mechanism, which makes its life possible in a quite architectural way, ratherthan others using mostly biological procedures to survive. Some researchers 1 of theDuke University 2 have done some research on the desert snail investigating the wayin which that snail survive, and founded that the secrete lies behind the shelllocating on its back. Its form and structure provide it the life temperature. In fact, thistype of snail can live in temperatures as high as 50C, while its death point is at55C. The overall temperature of the desert is around 43C and the surface of theearth will reach over 65C. In order to overcome this deadly heat, the snail wouldstick itself to the upper part of its shell, where the air temperature is around 43C.The shell material can reflect nearly 95% of the sunlight and absorb only 5% of it toreach a degree of 45-50C, which is ideal for the snail to survive. Moreover, the gapbetween the body of snail sticking to the shell and the soil creates an air pocket thatwould protect it from the surface heat.1Knut SCHMIDT-NIELSEN, C. R. TAYLOR, Amiram SHKOLNIKF2Department of Zoology, Duke University, Durham, N.C.
2. In the following some of the characteristics of this architectural form aredemonstrated, which would result in better living conditions for its inhabitants: - Its curved shape result in the minimum surface exposing to the sunlight. - Its spiral form, shaped from duplication of a unit pattern, provides themaximum shade on and underneath its surface. - The depth of the shell allows the snail to mount to escape from the heatbelow.According to this principles, some models were built up of paper ribbonscurving in a way that would make the maximum shade on another. In order to findthe best composition of the form, a number of paper models were built in differentcombination of curves, which were all common in mimicking from how the shell ofthe snail is organized. Then after, the conceptual designs were examined bymodeling the concept in the Ecotect Building Analysis software published in 2010 byAutodesk. The weather data of the city of Yazd, one of the cities located in thecentral desert of Iran, was loaded and analyzed. The outcome shows how well thesnail-inspired form would perform in tough conditions of arid areas. A factor that is closely attached to architecture is its construction. A designshould offer at least some practical suggestions for its construction even if it is in itsconceptual phase. In this, the designed form was thought to be built ofprefabricated components erected by dry joints which require minimumconstruction utilities and alterations in the surrounding environment. Thesecomponents could be made up of recycled wood panels that would easily return tonature. The panels can bend to form the primary structure of the shells and becovered by a thin skin of wood panels (cladding) preferably in white color in order toreflect the sunlight as much as possible. 3. Life in desert Biomimicry Design Challenge 2011BIOARCH GROUPArt University of Isfahan, IRANRoza Atarod, Elnaz Amiri, M.amin Mohamadi, Hesam Andalib BIOARCH GROUP 2011 1 4. IDENTIFY (function)About one third of the planet earth is consisted of desert areas with lack of water, high temperature insummer and cold winter. The growing population of the world and the need to live in tough conditionsemphasize on looking for a way to cope with these conditions. The question is that how to start thinkingabout living in desert? It can be replied with a simple question: is the human the first who want to livethere? Of course not! However, the current conditions of the universe requires seeking for more sustainableways toward making life easy in such conditions.BIOARCH GROUP 2011 2 5. DEFINE (context)BIOLOGIZE (challenge)Iran is a country located in middle east which As biomimcry suggests, the human is not the70% of its lands are deserts. Its population has first one thinking of making life easy at desert. In fact,grown to more than double that of the last 30there are lots of living creatures coping with theseyears. Yet, can the country consider more than 2/3 conditions for thousand of years. Therefore, architectsof its land as useless areas lacking the conditions of can take an approach of investigating how theselife? If not, how should these areas be applied? creatures survive and mimic them in the way thatHow will the life flow through its conditions? Whatarchitecture can.design attitude should architects take to thinkabout making the life possible in there?BIOARCH GROUP 2011 3 6. DISCOVER (Natural Object)What type of life can be a good choiceto investigate?Among all these, we focused on snailbecause of its amazing form and mechanismwhich make its life possible in a quitearchitectural way, rather than using mostlybiological procedures to survive., like theother creaturesBIOARCH GROUP 2011 4 7. ABSTRACT (Basic Principles)This type of snail can live in 50C and its death point is in 55C. The overall temperature of the desert isaround 43C and the surface of the earth will reach to about 65C; to escape from this heat, the snail willstick itself to the upper part of its shell adjacent to the 43C air which can reflect nearly 95% of the sunlightand absorb only 5% of it to reach a degree of 45-50C, which is ideal for the snail to survive. Also, the gapbetween the body of the snail sticking to the shell and the top soil would let a layer of insulation made up ofair protect it from the heat of the surface.- Its curve shape results in the minimum surface exposing to the sunlight.- Its spiral form, resulted from duplication of a unit pattern, provides the maximum shade on its surfacebeneath and itself alike- The depth of the shell allows the snail going up to escape from the heat below.BIOARCH GROUP 2011 5 8. EMULATE (brainstorming)We have to look for shadow in desert. The sunlight beams make every object overheated in desert andthe best and cheapest way is to make shadow. In order to do that, the shells were formed and investigated invarious positions to reach to the most efficient shading of the form. The shells can provide shade for eachother and the whole building as well, as the spiral shell of the snail acts. BIOARCH GROUP 2011 6 9. Shading analysis The purpose of design is to make human comfort zone by minimizing the solar radiation, moisturizing and ventilating. As can be seen the upper grid shows the percentage of thermal dissatisfaction under the shells which us far less than the environment and the lower grid shows the value of incident radiation of the sun under the shells which is ideal for the design. The red line in the graph shows the space under the shells in a summer day. The dotted blue line is the temperature of the environment. As can be seen, the designed space is in thermal comfort zone.BIOARCH GROUP 2011 7 10. EVALUATE (against life`s principles) FINAL RENDERS Sub-PrinciplesBreak down product into beginning constituentsUse feedback loopsUse multi-functional designUse low-energy ProcessFit form to functionRecycle all materialsCombine modular and nested componentEmbody resilience through variation, redundancy anddecentralizationReplicate strategies that worksIntegrate the unexpected To reevaluate the form in accordance with the strategies suggested by Biomimicry Institute, every sub-principle was considered to see if it is already existed in the design or can be applied in it. However, 10 of all the principles were achieved as the characteristics of this architecture. BIOARCH GROUP 20118 11. Break down product into beginning constituents Recycle all materialsThe suggested material for this structure is mainlyrecycled and processed wood such as particleboards or OSB Panels which are hardly compressedto satisfy structural demands. This material isgained from the nature and returns easily to it. Replicate strategies that worksIn desert architecture curvilinear geometry iscommonly applied as it has an appropriate behavioragainst the sunlight. Thisis not only found inarchitecture but the nature of desert applied thisgeometry as a strategy that is proved to be useful.Also, as a traditional method, building a central courtin buildings, makes a micro-climate in which thethermal conditions will be facilitated for life. Integra