Architecture students exhibit biomimicry projects

By Jorge Aldaco 

The students of Environmental used their imagination and skills to compose structures.

Outside of the E7 Technology Center Tuesday, large wooden structures made by Environmental Design 102 students were displayed and critiqued by a professional architect.

Professor Orhan Ayyuce had his students do an assignment that incorporated the use of natural materials. He also had them make elaborate designs inspired by flora and fauna.

These designs became the blueprint for the students’ designs. Most of the structures were large enough to walk through. Some of them, however, required an individual to crawl through in order to get an inside view.

“The design project of the Environmental Design 102 studio will explore the biology of the living organisms and how they inspire the design process and innovation throughout the history of built environments,” according to a flyer located next to the exhibition.

“Biomimicry, or biomimetics is the examination of nature, its models, systems, processes, and elements to get inspiration to solve human problems,” according to the flyer.

“The purpose of the project is for students to get inspired by either an event or by living creatures in nature and to inform them on their design decisions and learn from it and to apply it to their architectural systems,” said Professor Ayyuce. “There is a relationship between nature and architecture, and biomimicry is our way of trying to copy nature and learn from it and take it to an underlet…” said Professor Ayyuce.

For Christina Ruan and Monica Sherauda, their inspiration was the tardigrade, or water bear. “Our project is divided similarly to the three states of its physical being, which consist of their protective shell, their aspect of distributing oxygen and water through their body, and its active state,” said Ruan.

The tardigrade is one of the most resilient organisms, and can be found within extreme environments of hot and cold. It can even survive the conditions of outer space, within certain conditions.

The organism can also live in an incredibly dehydrated state and still survive. “We tried to create a protective shell and a ventilation for the inside for people to enact in an active routine” said Ruan.

The project was shaped similarly to the water bear and had a long tunnel-like structure. It is large and long enough for someone to crawl in and to use as basic shelter. Mayra Flores and Adriana Gonzales created a much more colorful structure that towered over them.

The structure consisted of three pillars, held up by a fourth, top part.

They named their work ‘Redesigned’.

“We are mimicking the plants and trees within the Amazon rainforest. And in the Amazon, there are about three to four layers,” said Flores.

“Within the Amazon, everything relies on one another. If one species dies, it will have a domino effect on the others. When we were building our structure, we needed to find a way to interlock to have every part rely on each other,” said Flores.

“If one of the structure falls, it will cause a domino effect on the rest of the structure, mirroring the extinction of a species.”

The pair also went out of their way to name each pillar and give each a little personality. Unfortunately, the structure came falling down as high winds kicked over the frail pillars, despite having weight on its base.

A prominent individual of the architecture world analyzed the projects.

Bill Simonian, former advisor of the SCI Arch program at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, found out about the exhibit on a Facebook post.

According to him, he attended because it was only a one-day event. “What attracted me to this was that it reminded me of the early project designs when I was teaching.” “I think it’s a great exercise for the students because they learn how to work together and how to fabricate their projects with nature. I think overall they were successful, and Orhan and I have a feeling that first year students can’t fail, as long as you show up and do the work.” Simonian said.

Ayyuce assigns this project every semester. For more information, visit the the Architecture Department in the E7-112.

ARCHITECTS OF THE FUTURE—Mayra Flores, right, and Adrianna Gonzales stand next to their project in front of the E7
Technology Center as they receive feedback from architect Bill Simonian on Tuesday. C/N Jorge Aldaco

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