Improve Ventilation

Barnacle Facade

Location: –

Inspiration: Barnacles, Prairie dogs 

Creator: Paar, M.J. & Petutschnigg, A. (2017)

Status: Conceptual
Function: Improve Ventilation 


Organism strategy: Barnacles cement themselves in a closely packed, flow-optimized, and modular growth structure on hard surfaces, such as sea rocks and on the seafloor. This organization follows the Voronoi diagram.


Prairie dogs design their burrows in such a way that establishes continuous air circulation. They create a system of passages that generates low- and high-pressure areas keeping their burrows cool during summer.


Design strategy: In this conceptual design, barnacles are placed as points in convex polygons, with each polygon containing exactly one generating point. Every point in a given polygon is closer to its generating point than to any other. This arrangement, which follows a Voronoi diagram pattern, could inspire a new generation of ventilation vents.


The wall was then installed following the prairie dog burrow construction. This way, a higher amount of air can flow through the ventilation slot, reducing the wall surface temperature more efficiently.


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Visual by Paar, M.J. & Petutschnigg, A. (2017)

Beijing National Stadium

Location: Beijing, China

Inspiration: Bird nest

Creator: Herzog & de Meuron 

Status: Built

Function: Improve Ventilation  , Light Optimization , Material Optimization , Sound Optimization , Structural Efficiency


Organism strategy: Many birds build nests to protect their eggs and young chicks. Nests are built of a wide variety of materials but generally have a structural component and feathers or other insulation help to shelter the eggs from temperature fluctuations and outside threats.

Design strategy: The stadium in Beijing, built for the 2008 Olympics, is constructed in layers reminiscent of a bird’s nest. On the inside there is seating for thousands of spectators, this is surrounded by substantial sound and thermal insulation, and the outer structural elements that are themselves reminiscent of the sticks in a bird’s nest. The layers of ETFE insulation also optimize the entry of sunlight into the space.


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Visual by Goh Chai Hin/AFP/Getty Images 

Breathing Walls

Location: – 

Inspiration: Egg shells

Creator: Craig & Grinham (2017)

Status: Simulation

Function: Improve Ventilation 


Organism strategy: Eggshells consist of many porous microstructures that regulate the passage of water vapor, gases, and microorganisms.


Design strategy: When building materials are designed with pores, incoming fresh air can be tempered with low-grade heat, keeping conduction losses to a minimum. For almost every material, the channel-pores can be optimized according to their thermal conductivity. This concept can be used to create a decentralized ventilation system throughout a building. 


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Visual by Craig & Grinham (2017)

Council House 2

Location: Melbourne Australia 

Inspiration: Termites

Creator: Mick Pearce & Design Inc.

Status: Built

Function: Improve Ventilation  , Heat dissipation


Organism strategy: The Council House 2 uses the same set of Termite system inspirations as the East Gate center. It applies these inspirations slightly differently. 


Design strategy: Six large wind turbines on the roof allow for natural ventilation of the buildings and release hot air produced by the building’s occupants during the day. At nighttime, vertical timber slats covering an entire part of the facade open up, generating an airflow into the building. This creates a reservoir of cool air during the day. In addition, the slats open and close in response to the angle of the sun, providing shade when necessary.

Other design strategies include the vertical tubes on the longitudinal facade. These tubes establish evaporative cooling, as excess water from the air conditioning drops down and evaporates along its way.


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 Visual by Mick Pearce.

East Gate Center 

Location: Harare, Zimbabwe

Inspiration: Termite mounds

Creator: Mick Pearce 

Status: Built

Function: Improve Ventilation  , Heat dissipation


Organism strategy: Due to extreme temperature fluctuations, some termite species create chimney-like structures where they harvest fungus that helps them digest wood. The fungal nests are underground, using soil’s natural thermal capacity to maintain a consistent temperature. Gas exchange is established through temperature gradients between the mound periphery and center combined with an ingenious network of channels to tap into dynamic exterior wind flows. As a result, termites keep both a relatively steady internal temperature and healthy CO2 and O2 levels in the fungal nests deep inside their mounds.


Design strategy: For the Eastgate centre, specific building construction materials with a high thermal capacity mimic the effect of the soil. Moreover, various openings throughout the building enable a passive airflow driven by outdoor wind flows keeping the inside cool with reduced energy expenditure. The hot air inside the building is directed outside through chimneys on the roof. Unlike termites however, fans are required throughout operation, particularly to bring in cool air during the night.


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 Visual by Mick Pearce.

Mountain Data Center

Location: –

Inspiration: Murray’s law

Creator: Exploration Architecture 

Status: Conceptual

Function: Improve Ventilation 


Organism strategy: Murray’s law is a mathematical principle that shows how branching systems in biology are optimized for fluid transport. The characterising angles of branching observed through Murray’s law are seen everywhere in nature, including in the respiratory and vascular structures of animals.


Design strategy: This conceptual data centre uses two principles found in nature, first is the natural occurrence of cooler areas where animals find refuge, such as mountains. The second is Murray’s law guiding the branching of flow in natural systems. In this design, data blocks are clustered in circles allowing air to be extracted towards the middle. This design requires less bands and ductwork than conventional data centers.


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Visual by Exploration Architecture

Votu Hotel

Location: Bahia, Brazil

Creator:  GCP Arquitectura and Urbanismo

Status: Simulated

Inspiration: Prairie dogs, Saguaro Cactus

Function: Improve Ventilation  , Heat dissipation


Organism strategy: Prairie dogs design their burrows in such a way that a continuous air circulation is established. By creating a system of passages that generates low- and high pressure areas, they keep a cooling air flow through their burrows during summer. 


The Saguaro cactus grows with long spines and accordion-like folds. These folds offer partial shade and cool the air on the shaded side. This form creates a circulation around the cactus that minimizes heat absorption.


Design strategy: The bungalows at Votu have a design similar to that of the prairie dog burrows. Using computer modeling, each bungalow is strategically placed at its location to allow for optimal natural ventilation. This effect is enhanced by the shape of the roof. In addition, the bungalows have many self-shading slats inspired by the cactus. 


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Visual by GCP Arquitectura and Urbanismo

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