I previously posted about this some months ago. I apologize that I have been so late in relaying the information since my trip. I must say first and foremost that this was probably one of the best weeks of my life!
To recap, I attended a week-long course on biomimicry in Costa Rica during the month of March '06. There were about 30 attendees including architects, interior, industrial, and a couple eccentrics. There was a mix of students and professionals with the pros in the majority. We worked in conjunction with about 1/2 dozen biologists who taught the course material including Janine Benyus author of Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature. You can find more valuable info at http://www.biomimicry.net
I will try to sum up my experience as concisely and wonderfully as I can. We stayed in a lodge called La Cusinga for the week. It is in the rainforest along the southern pacific coast and there is a private beach that we went to for fun and to research life in the tidal pools that form there. We took day & night trips through the rainforest to observe the ever-present life all around you. There are so many different species of plants and animals in the tropics that does not compare to that of more temperate climates like here in Philly. This diversity opens you up to that much more opportunity to learn and experience. The biologists are an integral part to the understanding of design opportunities that are present all throughout nature for they are the authorities you need.
In regards to the design aspect of the course we had numerous exercises that culmanated with a final design collaborative and presentation. We learned to really stop and observe what goes on around us. And in Costa Rica when you stop to look, listen, smell, and touch, you come upon some of the most fascinating discoveries because there is such a phenomenal complex of ecosystems abound that you begin to realize. We were presented with an entire methodology to design in respect to the natural occurrences in nature. We attended numerous outdoor lectures (everything was outdoors!) and performed various excersizes in design. Towards the end of the week we split into groups that contained people from various disciplines and formulated a design challenge. My group asked the question, “How does nature accomodate high winds?” We spent a day of researching aspects and elements found in nature that were able to accomodate hurricane force winds (things such as the canopy of forests, sacrificial limbs of trees, bull kelp in oceanic current). We gathered our info and concepted various ideas. Then we had one day to design our proposals and the presentations followed that following evening. Ultimately we designed a structure (many architects in my group) that would cut the wind effectively while providing adequate ventilation. Some of the other projects consisted of packaging based on the honeycomb structure of beehives, flood effective housing based on barnacles, binoculars based on the eye sight of eagles.
This course was so awesome I feel I did it no justice with my explanation. The people were fantastic. I met amazing people from all over North America (it’s open to internationals though). The biologists were so passionate and inspiring to all of us and they play such a pivotal role in the scheme of biomimetics. In Costa Rica I found inspiration, beauty & friendship. I found a field of vast potential and wonder that’s just waiting to be tapped into. The course runs anually and is absolutely worth your while.