Featherlight: Dirty Cities and a Desire to Be Dry

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M.Arch students Rob Holley and Hank Butitta (B.S. Arch '08) are among the top ten finalists in the Biomimicry Student Design Challenge for their project, Featherlight. In addition to three teams from the US, finalists include three teams from Canada and one each from Sweden, Chile, Belgium, and Mexico.

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Their project started last semester in a cross-disciplinary studio Exploring Bio-Inspired Systems in Architecture co-taught by Associate Professor Marc Swackhamer (Architecture) and College of Biological Sciences Professor Neil Olszewski. In the course, students developed projects that performed like, rather than simply looked like, biological systems. Their work will be on display at the Weisman Art Museum through March, along with an installation and exhibition of several pieces by bio-inspired artist, Jason Hackenworth.

The Biomimicry Student Design Challenge is an annual competition through the Biomimicry 3.8 Institute that focuses on a selected real-world problem. This year's theme was Water Wise: Biomimetic Solutions to Water Access & Management. Holley and Butitta developed a dynamically variable rain screen system that changes between states of water permeable and water repellent depending on the situation. The winners of Round One will be announced in on February 20. Project that move on to Round Two will receive mentorship opportunities to to take their designs closer to development and implementation, and a chance to compete for the Grand Prize and People's Choice Award.

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