Andrea Brennen

Andrea Brennen

Posts by This Writer

9 years 10 months ago

In the midst of researching a completely unrelated topic, I came across the following quote, summarizing an interesting historical take on the ethics of sustainable development: “The purpose of conservation: The greatest good to the greatest number of people for the longest time.” This quote is attributed to Gifford Pinchot, the first Director of the U.S. Forest Service. While Pinchot might not have been talking about sustainable development, per se he was talking about...


9 years 10 months ago

It has been said that architecture has a mimicry complex. Dave Brown, on his blog URB, describes architects’ tendency to mimic not only forms and systems found outside of architecture, but also, well, each other. In search of sustainable methods, innovative ideas, and novel forms, many architects look to nature for inspiration. This practice, termed biomimicry, has been the subject of several of my recent posts. Moving beyond biology to something much larger, Brown discusses another environmentally-motivated...


9 years 10 months ago

Solar Botanic is a green energy company; they make fake trees that generate electricity. I can’t quite decide if this is a brilliant example of biomimicry-in-action, or just a bizarre attempt to “improve” upon a natural system – the tree – that already works pretty darn well. Do you ever wonder if there are certain things that don’t really need to be improved? Regardless, Solar Botanic is, at the very least, an interesting idea.

How does it work?

Solar Botanic’s trees take their energy-generating...


9 years 10 months ago

Dennis Dollens is not the be all and end all of biomimicry, nor of green building design. His work is, however, a good example of the so-called “biodigital” movement/design strategy/fad/trend/ ; it is also, in my opinion, a telling example of some of biomimicry’s...


9 years 10 months ago

There is something undeniably cool about Biomimicry as an approach to green building. Looking to natural systems and processes for inspiration for design solutions just seems like a good idea. The proponents of biomimetic architecture are convincing; their images are sexy; the reasoning, at first glance, seems infallible. Is there a catch to this utopian green building philosophy?

As with other approaches...


9 years 10 months ago

Biomimetic architecture is about looking to nature for inspiration for how to make better buildings and in the eco-minded, nature-loving ethos of biomimicry, “better” is often a synonym for green buildings. There are lots of architects doing all sorts of research and experimentation into how biomimetic principles can and should influence the design profession; Dennis Dollens is taking things to another lever, at least when it comes to spreading the word about biomimicry and green building.

Biomimetic architecture probably already seems...


9 years 10 months ago

This is a different kind of story about green building in Africa. Instead of the usual treatise on the need for more sustainable forms of development, this is a tale of technological innovation, biomimetic philosophy, and green building principles put successfully into action – read on to find out how the African termite guided architects towards a new method for thermal regulation.

What is Biomimetic Architecture?

According to the Biomimicry Institute, “...


9 years 10 months ago

So, you fancy yourself an environmentalist; you recycle, you’re interested in green building, you eat organic. But what kind of green are you, exactly? Or rather, what color? For it seems that “green” is no longer an either-or distinction, but rather, a spectrum -- of political ideologies, of attitudes towards technology, of degrees of optimism, and…of hues. An aptly-labeled mode of color-coding adds a level of symbolic differentiation to the various sub-groups of greenness. Are you familiar with the distinctions between “dark” vs. “...


9 years 10 months ago

The Plastiki, Adventure Ecology’s inspiring response to the problem of marine pollution and plastic waste, is a sailing vessel with a hull made out of post-consumer recycled plastic bottles; it is also an excellent example of sustainable design principles put into action.

As is often the case with design, the big picture problem -- how to build a sustainable, inhabitable floating vessel -- is made up of a number of smaller design questions. This post will look at one of them: the cabin....


9 years 10 months ago

57 days ago the Plastiki set sail from San Francisco, headed towards Sydney, Australia with a crew of 8 and this global message: “waste is fundamentally a design flaw.” Adventure Ecology, the organization behind The Plastiki, wanted to raise awareness about marine pollution and plastic waste, and really, what better way is there to do so then to build a boat out of 12,500 plastic bottles and sail it across the Pacific Ocean?

Some Facts about Marine Pollution and Plastic Waste

Nearly every...


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