Biomimicry in Urban Architecture – By Keon Tavakoli EDI’21

Adapt by Amina Khan. The presentation dived deeper into Chapter 8 – Cities as Ecosystems: Building A More Sustainable Society

Every few weeks EDI fellows are split into three groups and each group is assigned a chapter from the book Adapt by Amina Khan. This blog post will discuss one of the presentations from the past week. The topic of the presentation was biomimicry, the design and production of materials, structures, and systems that are modeled on biological entities and processes. Patrick McElroy EDI’19, Frances Harrington EDI’19, Connor Holland EDI’19, Kevin Smedley EDI’19, and AJ Keels EDI’21 put together a very appealing presentation.

Their presentation specifically focused on current examples and potential implementations of biomimicry in cities around the world. They provided several examples of biomimicry in our Hampton Roads area, including a CHKD hospital in Norfolk and the Brock

CHKD Hospital

Center in Virginia Beach. The CHKD hospital displays fish on the floor in part the hospital, and the fish react to any passerbys by avoiding their steps and swimming away. This simple implementation of nature in our community helps to calm down nervous kids before a procedure or provide a fun distraction for kids walking away from one. Another example, the Brock Center, was built next to Chesapeake Bay in Virginia Beach and the natural scene coupled with the

The Brock Center, Virginia Beach, VA

extremely green power of the building promote the center’s mission to make the world more eco-friendly. This tribute to the natural world implements biomimicry in the sense that the building itself was built near the beach. Being surrounded by

Keon Tavakoli ’21

nature further represents the foundation’s commitment to making the world more like nature, the same goal biomimicry attempts to accomplish. Each of these buildings act as optimistic precedents for a more natural world in the future.

A Hackathon Hosted by the Seniors – Written by Kevin Smedley EDI’19

By Kevin Smedley EDI’19

This past Thursday, February 5th, the senior EDI fellows ran a hackathon for the younger fellows and the directors. The seniors designed this Hackathon around the concepts of sustainability and eco-friendliness, as every day, we use various things that affect the environment in a negative way. Many of these things also produce an excessive amount of waste. For this hackathon, the seniors wanted teams of EDI fellows and directors to design a compact product that people (and more specifically students) could use, with a focus on reducing any possible negative effects toward the environment. At the end of the project, two things must be presented: a CAD design of the product and a rough physical prototype that demonstrates how it would work. Each team had to explain why students would want to use their product and why it would make their lives more environmentally friendly.

Each team of three was provided the following materials to create their prototypes: cardboard, straws, rubber bands, glue, and cardstock. We, the Seniors, judged each team on their design and quality of their presentation. We were focused on two main categories for our judging: eco-friendlines and why students would want to use it.

The seniors were presented with 4 designs: a biodegradable syringe, a smart water bottle, a fidget spinner phone charger, and a urinal

Schematic of the urine battery technology that already exists. Figure Borrowed from Walter et al. 2017 Applied Energy <https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306261916307814>

urine battery. The biodegradable syringe came in first place as the presentation was

Schematic of Urine Battery Internal Structure. Figure taken from Walter et al. 2016 Biotech for Biofuels. <https://biotechnologyforbiofuels.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13068-016-0504-3>

beautifully executed and the idea was very creative. The smart water bottle, which provided a tracker to show you how much water you drank throughout the day as well as a hatch to expel water for plants, came in second place with a smooth presentation. In third place came the unconventional fidget spinner which could power a phone similar to a hand cranked flashlight. The team of directors used materials other than those listed in the guidelines and were thus placed last. However, their design for a urine battery which could be implemented in bathrooms to power the lights was highly innovative and was a brilliant implementation of a normal urine battery.