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Cultures, Communities and Design

Biomimicry Thinking: fostering quality of life and sustainability by design
A. Marques de Sá & D. Magalhães Viana


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Throughout the technological progress conquered by humanity, postures of dominance and control over nature were undertaken, giving rise to harmful consequences for the survival of both human communities and the other species. In fact, many systems and infrastructures were developed with high environmental costs, making it necessary to redesign urban spaces, constructions, and artifacts, as well as rethink the creative processes involved in their planning. Therefore, it is crucial to seek proposals based on other areas of knowledge, such as biomimicry. In recent decades, this field has sought to provide subsidies for formulating solutions related to human challenges and needs through the investigation of natural forms, processes, and systems. In this context, biological knowledge is transferred to the creative area (for example, design, architecture, and urbanism). From this perspective, it is relevant to investigate biomimetic tools – defined as theoretical instruments used to structure stages and processes for generating ideas, analyzing problems, and guiding design activities in biomimetic proposals. The present work aimed to describe, analyze, and discuss the use of the Biomimicry Thinking tool in projects committed to sustainability. The analyzed projects applied such a tool, obtaining benefits in terms of material and energy savings; preference for natural lighting and ventilation; and adoption of passive, modular, and multifunctional systems. There was also an insufficient specification of the procedures for applying this tool in the analyzed projects. In overview, it was evident that projects inspired by nature foster more sustainable and adequate proposals for the quality of life. It was found that the use of biomimetic tools is a significant complimentary resource for professionals in creative domains. Further studies are recommended, including an experimental approach with Biomimicry Thinking, as well as in different application contexts, to increase the understanding of its contributions.


Alice Araujo Marques de Sá has a master’s degree in Design from the University of Brasília (UnB) and a degree in Product and Graphic Design from UnB. She researches the interfaces between design, biomimicry, and bioinspired projects. Alice also investigates processes and tools in the scope of creative projects in biomimicry and design and explores how these areas integrate into the field of sustainability.

Dianne Magalhães Viana has a PhD in Engineering from Coppe/UFRJ (1998). She is a professor, researcher, and advisor of the Graduate Program in Design at the University of Brasília (UnB). Dianne works in methodologies applied to R&D; educational methodologies guided by projects integrating teaching, research, and extension; and in research in the areas of Design and Product and Process Engineering in the themes of machine design, product design, education, and sustainability.