Insect-inspired architecture to build sustainable cities

Elsevier, Current Opinion in Insect Science, Volume 40, 2020, Pages 62-70, ISSN 2214-5745,
Stanislav N Gorb, Elena V Gorb

Materials, structures, surfaces and buildings of insects are of a great scientific interest, but such basic knowledge about the functional principles of these structures is also highly relevant for technical applications, especially in architecture. Some of the greatest challenges for today's architecture are multifunctionality, energy saving and sustainability — problems that insects have partially solved during their evolution. Entomologists have collected a huge amount of information about the structure and function of such living constructions and surfaces. This information can be utilized in order to mimic them for applications in architecture. The main technology areas, in which insect-inspired ideas can be applied, are the following: (1) new materials, (2) constructions, (3) surfaces, (4) adhesives and bonding technology, (5) optics and photonics. A few selected examples are discussed in this short review, but having more than one million described insect species as a source for inspiration, one might expect many more ideas from entomology for insect-inspired biomimetics in architecture. The incorporation of additional knowledge from insect biology into architecture will improve performance of future buildings. However, biologists still do not have a complete understanding of structure-function relationship of insect materials and construction. Hence, many technological areas will benefit from additional basic entomology research. Also the screening for new inspirations from insects is likely to remain an important research field in the near future.