Mankind has always taken inspiration from nature. Bionics – the conscious observation of nature in order to gain new insights for developing and improving technical installations and systems – goes beyond this.
how living organisms build and acclimate and linked these phenomena to relevant technologies in the construction sector. It is not possible to simply copy nature; it is rather a matter of studying the extremely varied thematic structures, methods and development strategies and how they are reflected in the present-day physical-technical pool of knowledge (“technical biology”). Taking classical examples it was shown that it is possible to abstract a principle of nature and then examine whether it can provide inspiration for contemporary building technology (“bionics”). Bionics in building neither means “back to nature” nor does it mean biomorphic building design.
Besides known examples, such as the development of solar energy from polar bear furs and termite-inspired air conditioning, additional approaches that further advance the fundamental concept of “learning from nature” were discussed. Radiolaria and dragonflies, honeycombs and bones, spiders’ webs and biocompatible tyres show that lightweight construction is an intrinsic principle of nature.
Werner Nachtigall was for many years professor of zoology and director of the Zoological Institute of the University of Saarland. He headed many working groups dedicated to basic science relating to the physiology of movement. He has always emphasised the importance of bringing together different sciences from the fields of engineering and biological research. As a pioneer of bionic research in Germany, he initiated the field of research dedicated to “Technical Biology and Bionics” and established a course of study as well as an association bearing the same name. He also played a decisive role in the establishment of the bionic competence network BIOKON.
Bionics means learning from nature in order to create independent technical designs.