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Competition: Biomimicry Global Design Challenge

The Biomimicry Institute has announced an open international ideas competition for nature-inspired solutions to climate change, featuring a $100,000 USD top prize (Deadline: 30 April)

The annual ‘biomimetic’ contest seeks conceptual ideas to combat climate change through adaptation, mitigation and the reversal of its impacts on the economy and environment.

Up to 10 shortlisted teams will participate in a year-long accelerator program and development phase before their final designs compete for the $100,000 USD Ray of Hope Prize.

Biomimicry Global Design Challenge

Biomimicry Global Design Challenge

Biomimicry Global Design Challenge

According to the brief: ‘Earth has always been a changing planet, but the climate and ecological changes humans have set in motion in the last century are like nothing our species has experienced before.

‘To avoid the worst consequences of climate change, the human community must find ways to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change and ideally reverse its dangerous course altogether.’

The Biomimicry Institute was founded in 2006 by academic authors Bryony Schwan and Janine Benyus, and has developed a range of programmes, initiatives and activities intended to harness natural ideas to combat climate change.

Participants in the institute’s 2015 accelerator programme included seven teams whose proposals focused on food and water production. The winning ‘BioNurse’ concept – drawn up by the Ceres Regional Centre for Fruit and Vegetable Innovation in Chile – provided a solution to protect seedlings and restore degraded soils back to health.

Biomimicry Global Design Challenge

Biomimicry Global Design Challenge

Biomimicry Global Design Challenge

Biomimicry Global Design Challenge

Biomimicry Global Design Challenge

Biomimicry Global Design Challenge

The competition and prize fund is sponsored by the Ray C Anderson Foundation, created in memory of Ray C Anderson who founded green-tech company Interface.

The institute’s sister organisation, Biomimicry 3.8, provides ‘bio-inspired’ consultancy, focusing on professional training and inspiration. The group’s AskNature project has created an online library exploring natural solutions to human design challenges.

Teams participating in the latest Biomimicry Global Design may feature between two and eight members, with registered users free to create a new team or join an existing collaboration.

Up to 10 finalist teams will receive $2,000 USD each and be invited to participate in the Biomimicry Accelerator programme, which will begin in October 2017 and last for one year.

Participants in the accelerator will receive around $12,000 USD worth of business training and incubation support, mentorship support, access to software tools, legal support, coaching and technical consultations.

Once the accelerator programme is complete, the finalist teams will compete for the Ray C Anderson Foundation’s $100,000 USD Ray of Hope Prize. The winning student team will meanwhile receive a $3,000 USD cash prize, while a second place student prize of $1,500 USD and third place prize of $750 USD will also be awarded.

How to apply

Deadline

The deadline for submissions is 11:59:59pm PDT on 30 April

Fee

Early bird rate before 31 March: Student $40, profesional $100
Standard rate after 1 April: Student $50, profesional $120

Contact details

Biomimicry Institute
PO Box 9216
Missoula
Montana 59807
United States of America

Email: info@biomimicry.org
Tel: +1 415 800 1401

View the competition website for more information

Biomimicry Global Design Challenge's Ray of Hope prize | Bioneers 2016

Wolfson Tree Management Centre case study: Q&A with Piers Taylor

The founder of Invisible Studio discusses lessons learned designing a tree management centre at The National Arboretum in Gloucestershire, England

How did your Wolfson Tree Management Centre harness nature to combat climate change?

The project was designed to minimise its impact on the environment. The timber used was grown on site, milled on site and thinned as part of a tree management plan. It was used untreated, and the buildings were designed from the outset to minimise steel in the connections and concrete in the foundations. The main glazed elevation of the insulated building faces due south, and the two buildings were designed to provide high levels of natural light inside, minimising the need for artificial light even on the depths of winter on cloudy days, and to provide protection in the working areas from the cold northerly winds. The two buildings were an exercise in providing two distinct typological prototypes for low-impact rural buildings that could be built in any context in the UK using local resources. The two buildings were also sited to avoid disturbing any of the existing trees on the site.

Gloucestershire, England

Gloucestershire, England

Wolfson Tree Management Centre by Invisible Studio

Which architectural, material and other methods did you harness?

The buildings were designed around materials that had little or no carbon footprint, and needed minimal processing. There was much discussion with the team as to the level of refinement in the timber that was milled, and generally, all the timber had only one pass of the saw with no resewing and no planing; the larger members were hewn by hand, with hand tools only. The species selected, and the detailing, ensured longevity with no treatment to the timber. The design of the two buildings uses timber effectively in that there is minimal waste; the cladding is effectively offcuts from the main structural members. The smaller of the two buildings – the mess building, which is a welfare facility for the tree team – is super insulated using surplus insulation salvaged from another project, and being super responsive, is heated with two tiny electric radiators, with electricity from a renewable source. The project also used volunteer and student labour, providing valuable skills as part of training programmes. The participants in the build have gone on to use their new-found skills on other projects.

Gloucestershire, England

Gloucestershire, England

Wolfson Tree Management Centre by Invisible Studio

What advice would you have to participants on designing a nature-inspired structure to address climate change?

Instead of designing an idealised project that has to use specialist materials brought in from elsewhere, design around the materials and skills that exist on the site or very locally. There is often an issue with architects imagining that materials are endless and abundant; instead, we are interested in how little architecture you can provide, and how little building, and how few materials. This isn’t an exercise in minimalism; it is an exercise in providing an architecture of frugality. Timber, of course, is always a good material, but only if it is local, and even better if it is unseasoned, and untreated, and designed around the properties of the timber itself rather than resorting to steel connections.

Gloucestershire, England

Gloucestershire, England

Wolfson Tree Management Centre by Invisible Studio