Biomimicry is a buzzword in the architecture world and it's changing the way we design buildings and consumer products, right down to the tables used in this exhibition. It's the recognition that in a world where sustainability is key, it's arrogant to think humans can come up with more efficient designs than what nature has perfected over three billion years of evolution.
The projects on display range from growing buildings underwater to a massive server warehouse inside a naturally ventilated cavern. These aren't just ideas floating around, they've actually led to improved processes based on the natural world. Brain surgeons are able to use a new brain probe based on the principles used by a wasp drilling into wood, and the design of humpback whale fins is being used to create wind turbines that will spin even when wind speed is low.
This exhibition features lots of innovative ideas, with accompanying videos and specimens hanging above the tables – ranging from the delicate glass sponge to the alien looking sea fan lobster. It's a lot to take in at once and they pack a lot of information into a small space, but it never gets tiresome and is always intellectually stimulating.
This is all the work of one firm, Exploration Architecture, yet it never feels like an obvious plug by them and the work they are doing is so advanced and fascinating, visitors will leave this exhibition having had their horizons greatly expanded.
Exploration Architecture: Designing with Nature is on at The Architecture Foundation, 136-148 Tooley Street, SE1 2TU until 15 March, admission free. There will also be two panel discussions on these topics on 17 and 27 February at the Unicorn Theatre across the road, tickets are £5 and may be booked online, see website for details.