Termites: The Inspiration
Confronted with record-breaking temperature, scorching hot heat waves, and skyrocketing air conditioning costs, developers and architects are always looking for innovative solutions to tackle global warming or, at the very least, to sustain liveable indoor temperatures by consuming less energy.
The community is shifting to a more “ecologically nature-inspired understanding” about how nature reacts to its surroundings and how people should do the same.
“Nature is by far the richest source of inspiration and knowledge that we have”- Dr Rupert Soar.
We can learn a lot from nature. After all, humans are far from the only animal that has shown endurance in the face of intense heat.
For thousands of generations, creatures ranging from parrot to rat (which evolved to be nocturnal) have lived in extremely hot conditions. Few of them even conserve water by not peeing(eww)! So, why not take a page from their book?
Perhaps the most famous example of nature-inspired architecture is The Burj Khalifa, one of the Skyscrapers. What is it well-known for? Of course, we all know that since its completion in 2009, The Burj Khalifa has been the world’s tallest structure and building. With a gross elevation of 829.8 m., isn’t that incredible?
Do you know that the skyscrapers are inspired by nature best architect? They are not the most magnificent creatures, but they can build impressively tall skyscrapers of soil that can reach 30 feet in height. Can you guess who they are? It is termite!! (Weird no!!)
Architect Mick Pearce’s vision for the Eastgate Centre in Harare, Zimbabwe, was sparked while watching termites construct their nests. He thought that Termite’ work might have served as a “metaphoric model.” And at the same time, Dr Rupert Soar was studying termite mounds to learn how we could make cleverly built ventilated structures that consume little electricity, much like these extraordinary little insects.
Pearce believed the chimneys in the mound’s top circulated hot air through the top, while cold air remained in the mound’s bottom, where the queen hung out. (Subsequent research has validated his hunch.)
The outcome is a ground-breaking example of “passive ventilation” – the concept that buildings use green energy from their surroundings instead of traditional air conditioning plants or any heating systems.
According to its creators, the Eastgate building consumes less electricity and is less expensive to operate. During the day, the tower’s skin collects heat from the outside air and transfers it to its body. As it approaches the centre of the house, the air is cold. At night, the heat consumed during the day warms this cold air, providing comfortable, cool, or warm temperatures inside the structure. It is perhaps the best explanation of the term ‘biomimicry’ out there right now.
Not just by their architecture, Termites always inspire architects to use creative solution and effective technology to sustain the buildings for a longer time.
Termites are regarded as a significant concern, and the threat of an infestation puts off many natural construction enthusiasts. Termites are drawn to wood, moisture, and, in some cases, cracks in building exteriors.
They damage household items such as furniture, plywood, clothes, and stationery by feeding on wood and eating any organic materials having cellulose bases. Not just that, sometimes these tiny little creatures can destroy the whole building. And it is quite uncommon for the owner not to detect a single activity before complete destruction.
Architects often advise homeowners to inspect their residences for termite-friendly conditions. Such as checking for high moisture levels and reducing humidity in the home, and treating and covering any exposed wood in contact with soil both contribute to avoiding experiences.