Adaptive Design in Biology and Architecture

Scientific insights verify what can be observed: organisms change to adapt to their environments and concurrently bring about changes in their environments to suit them. This organism – environment relation may initially be seen to be trivial. Yet it is inherently complex, as it makes adaptive design both an agent of natural selection and development acting as a driver of biological change, as well as an agent for ecosystem engineering or niche construction, thus driving environmental change. Architecture has become a conspicuous part of this evolutionary feedback and ecological interaction with significant influence on global environment. First, this suggests a biological – ecological parallel for adaptive design in architecture and to consider, with caution, the current and shifting state of our design intelligence adopted to guide this process. Secondly, it is necessary to distinguish their divergence when considering that it is human signature that is a major determinant in these processes today, hence the anthropocene. These realizations prepare the grounds for and draw attention to a biomimetic framework that has the potential to empower architectural design by learning from biological innovation, its generation in organisms and through their ecosystem engineering / niche constructing activities. This apparent commonality in adaptive design remains relatively unexplored; yet, it is critical for recognizing the potential capacity of architectural design for environmental innovation and building this capability for the fundamental shift from a design path associated with environmental deterioration, as well as its inclusion in the discussions about sustainable, ecological approaches to architecture.

18 May Tuesday, 15.40


Defne Sunguroğlu Hensel [AA Dipl RIBA II MSc] is an architect, interior architect, board member and principle researcher in the OCEAN Design Research Association, and doctoral research fellow at AHO Oslo School of Architecture and Design. Currently, she is completing her PhD entitled: ‘Biologically Driven Convergence for Architectural Innovation and a Developmental Route to Local Specificity’. In the field of research by design in architecture, her interdisciplinary work extends into fields including systems & complexity; engineering; biology; biomimetics; TRIZ; material science; micro-climatology; computational design and ontologies; CAD/CAM; environmental and ecological sustainability and receives industrial sponsorships and supports. Her current research projects include Nested Catenaries; Complex Brick Assemblies; ArchiTRIZ – Material-Ontology [MatOnt]; and 30 Case Studies on the performance analysis of historical buildings. Previously, she received the Holloway Trust Award (2006) for a significant contribution to the construction industry; Buro Happold studentship (2006) to pursue her research into Complex Brick Assemblies; a stipend by BDA Brick Development Association (2007), the Anthony Pott Memorial Award (2007) for detailed analysis and research of Eladio Dieste’s work; the PMI Award (2007) in the industrial category of the Pottery Mechanics Institute; and the IASS Tsuboi Award (2013) in the category of the most meritorious paper published in the journal of the IASS International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures in 2013. She held Innovation Fellowships, published, lectured, taught, exhibited, organized symposiums, exhibitions, conducted workshops internationally and her work has been published widely.