Nature. It’s all around us. We are part of it yet in some situations we can feel disconnected from it. Living in city and suburban areas we can lose that interface or interaction to nature. In general architecture and more importantly sustainable design helps bring back that connection through the principles and techniques that draw itself from nature.

An Afghan designer, Massed Hassani, has utilized the natural structure and movement of tumbleweed to create a low-cost, wind powered mine detonating device called Mine Kafon. The invention is almost entirely made from bamboo and biodegradable plastics. The structure assembled is light enough to be carried by the wind and is designed to activate hidden mines as it rolls over the terrain. This design, while not directly connected to architecture, still executes principles of Sustainable Design for an important purpose.

In Architecture, the use of nature in design, known as biomimicry, has many examples in history. One well known example is the Sagrada Familia designed by Gaudi. It has been documented that Gaudi was inspired by a forest canopy for this cathedral sized building’s design. Or Frank Lloyd Wright’s Johnson Wax Headquarters which its interior columns were inspired from the shape of lily pads. At the Connex Office Park in Fort Worth, the use of “turbine trees” on the roof is an example that combines both biomimicry and sustainable design through the use of metal shaped trees with multiple turbines acting as leaves.

As of late, the industry is moving towards a more environmentally nature inspired understanding of how nature responds to its environment. Architects are seeking nature’s lessons to build with limited resources in the face of shrinking materials and energy supplies. Society will need to do more with less and utilize nature’s tenacity for the years to come.