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A giant Amazon Water Lily Leaf Structure


The Amazon Expedition and the whole Young Explorer Program made me understand that I have two main passions in life: architecture and environment. Since my childhood, I‘ve always been attracted to every pieces nature has created. How to get then inspired by nature to create architecture?

After discovering the architect Michael PAWLYN in a Ted Talk, I had the chance to experience a one month internship at his agency based in London called “Exploration Architecture”.

Their approach to architecture is highly innovative and allows facing the biggest challenges of today and of the future. How to look at nature, how to understand its mechanisms in order to adapt it to architecture? This is called BIOMIMICRY and it’s the creative process they use to design a project to achieve radical efficiencies resources. One of Michael Pawlyn’s projects developed while he was working with GRIMSHAW is a green houses project for plants collected around the world. The Eden Project Biomes was designed to achieve resources efficiency using natural inspirations such as bubbles (for the building shape), pollen grains and carbon molecules (pentagonal lightest structure).

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The Eden Project Biomes, UK

During my internship, I worked on various types of works and among setting up experiments to grow structural elements in seawater, visualizing data from projects, preparing designs…, I prepared some works that will be presented for their exhibition in the Architecture Foundation in London. Their aim is to explain how biomimetic architecture works, based on their ideas, projects and several other architects projects.

One of the most interesting works was the cast of a giant Amazon Waterlily Leaf. I had to carry a box of 1mx1m in the tube, then pick up a giant Amazon Water Lily Leaf and cast it with 70kg of plaster! That was such an experience!

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As you can see on the pictures, the Amazon WaterLily has developed a highly interesting and complex structure to be able to support the leaf overwater that can grow over 2,5m. The roof of the Palazzetto Dello Sport by Pier Luigi Nervi used the example of the Amazon Waterlily to achieve a more efficient structure.


Palazzetto Dello Sport – Pier Luigi Nervi

I also trained to make biological forms of origami that would be shown during the exhibition as possible sources of inspiration in architecture.

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Biological forms of origami

This internship was absolutely enriching as my work covered lots of various interesting domains. Furthermore, I discovered an approach to architecture that is really innovating and stimulating.

Nature is a genius, it proposes mechanisms and solutions that we should get inspired from and explore in the aim of sustainability.

Watch Michael Pawlyn’s TEDtalk about Biomimicry in Architecture:


Quick Info:
  • Date: Summer 2013
  • Location: London, GB

3 Comments, RSS

  • stefan

    says on:
    11/08/2013 at 22:08

    Really interesting read, thanks for the blog.

    Biomimicry is amazing, using the humpback whales fins to increase the energy produced and lessen the drag on the blades of the wind turbines. The japanese used the shape of a kingfishers nose diving into the water to reduce drag on their trains when entering a tunnel by something like 25persent.

    Humans really need to look at nature more to make our lives more efficient.

  • Areeba Maqsood

    says on:
    25/05/2015 at 18:47

    Could you please tell me how you made these origami forms. I am giving my thesis this year and i am also using biomimicry to design my structure. So it would be a lot of help if you could tell me how you made these models. i dont know anything about origami. I have tried it a few times using youtube videos.

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