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Reading 16 "Biomimicry" by Janine M. Benyus



According to Benyus, biomimicry (from the Greek bios, life, and mimesis, imitation), "is a new science that studies nature's models and then imitates or takes inspiration from these designs and processes to solve human problems." It studies nature in three ways: nature as model, nature as measure, and nature as mentor. The Age of Biomimicry "introduces an era based not on what we can extract from nature, but on what we can learn from her." It is based largely upon the principle that all human inventions have already been invented by nature in a better, more efficient way. Nature is "imaginative by necessity," writes Benyus.


"It is time for us as a culture to walk in the forest again," asserts Benyus. The reading emphasizes the necessity for human beings to be stewards of the Earth in which we live, learning from it and safeguarding it from harm. If we fail to do so, we not only harm nature, but doom the future survival of the human race. "We realize that the only way to keep learning from nature is to safeguard naturalness, the wellspring of good ideas. At this point in history, as we contemplate the very real possibility of losing a quarter of all species in the next thirty years, biomimicry becoems more than just a new way of looking at nature. It becomes a race and a rescue." Benyus sums up her call to safeguard the natural world, saying "This time, we come not to learn about nature so that we might circumvent or control her, but to learn from nature, so that we might fit in, at last and for good, on the Earth from which we sprang."


1. "Nature invents and we invent. In fact, I think that humans and all other life-forms have been evolving toward similar points, but other organisms are simply farther along than we are," quotes Benyus from her discussion with University of Delaware researcher Herb Waite. Is Waite's rather radical challenge to the common assumption of human superiority arguable?

2. Has the architecture profession truly embraced the widely-accepted-to-be-enlightened study of biomimicry, or is there alot of work yet to be done?