Biomimicry Design Toolkit. Addressing thermal comfort for building facades in the tropics

Supported by the DesignSingapore Council’s Good Design Research (GDR) initiative, the bioSEA team and collaborators are developing a design toolkit for building facades that aims to improve thermal comfort in the tropics.

Tropical areas are home to incredible biodiversity that can provide us with a rich catalog of innovation ideas.


60% of Singapore’s office building energy consumption goes into cooling and another 10% to mechanical ventilation. It is imperative that our path to sustainability cuts cooling consumption and reduces carbon emissions. 

The façade is the largest ‘skin’ of the building, and it is exposed to the sun throughout the day, leading to much solar heat gain through heat conduction in the walls and radiation through the windows. Therefore, if the façade can be optimally designed to reduce heat gain, then less energy is needed to cool the environment. 


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The Promise of Biomimicry

Nature has a head start in innovation having spent more than 3.8 Billion years in R&D through evolution, whereas human’s industrial revolution is only 250 years old.

Nature has numerous ways of managing heat such as by sweating through pores in the human skin, retaining water in the wrinkly elephant skin or self-shading with cactus-like ribs. These place-based and time-tested solutions offer a new perspective for us to develop innovative solutions to improve thermal comfort using breathable building skins in tropical buildings.

“stick like a gecko, compute like a cell, even run a business like a redwood forest “ – Janine Benyus


The design toolkit is poised to initiate new thinking, approaches and ideas, and through that value add our sustainability ambitions to transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient future.

Three approaches:

  1. A guidebook showcasing a palette of biomimicry inspirations to solve thermal comfort relevant to the tropical conditions in Singapore.
  2. A collection of 3D models of biomimetic facades as proof of concepts with suggestions on scale-up and applications to buildings.
  3. Creating an engaged community – A community of academics and industry professionals in the Built Environment & Construction sector will be engaged to provide feedback on our design explorations through expert consultations and design charrettes.

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