The Biomimicry Institute has developed an online database of design ideas inspired by nature called Ask Nature. The concept behind the database is that many modern design problems have precedent in biology, and that Mother Nature’s solutions, crafted and honed over millions of years, are often the best inspiration for architects and engineers to tackle those problems. The site defines biomimicry as
a design discipline that seeks sustainable solutions by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies, e.g., a solar cell inspired by a leaf. The core idea is that Nature, imaginative by necessity, has already solved many of the problems we are grappling with: energy, food production, climate control, non-toxic chemistry, transportation, packaging, and a whole lot more.
Man has spent thousands of years trying to tame and tackle nature, but biomimicry may be the more effective approach, and ultimately more sustainable.