Cities lack lungs. The vast majority have a deficiency in green infrastructure but at the same time need its benefits. Still, the lack of space prevents meeting this need. One solution is the one that the Boeri Studio has designed in Milan, the Bosco Verticale, two buildings that are the fruit of biomimetic thinking that house all the vegetation that could fit on a 10,000 m² plot of land on 110 and 76 m facades. Thus, new green lungs are created without having to make large investments in land that are impossible to assume in the 21st century. The trees are maintained thanks to the incorporation of fertile soil in balconies and an irrigation system that takes advantage of the water table and the gray waters produced by the building. That is, the vegetation is fed with non-polluting or abusive systems. It also has many benefits for its inhabitants: it regulates temperatures, eliminates noise pollution, reduces energy consumption and renews oxygen, among others. Using biomimetic thinking, therefore, allows us to discover new ways to transform the city towards more natural and healthy models, making the most of the available space.
Applied to architecture, biomimicry also allows installations that work with the same processes as nature to favor sustainable environments.
An example is London’s famous 30 St Mary Ax tower, also known as the Gherkin tower. By mimicking the respiratory system of sea sponges and sea anemones, which use the holes and channels in their body to distribute oxygen, architects have created an intelligent ventilation system that provides air to the entire tower in an efficient way that consumes less energy. It uses a double facade divided into an exoskeleton slightly separated from the interior walls, which creates interior air channels. Thus, in summer, the heat that forms inside the building escapes and the temperatures do not rise, avoiding the abusive use of air conditioners that consume a lot of energy. Also, in winter, this original ventilation system moves the heating throughout the building more easily, so that less is needed to heat the tower.
According to the official figures of the Gherkin tower, thanks to this structure, 50% less energy is used than in office towers of similar dimensions. Norman Foster, the architect, assures that “it is nature that regulates and controls the temperature of the building“.