Natural Technology

Week 11 Journal 7- This week I have chosen to take a closer look at a material that poses many questions to traditional building techniques. This boundary pushing product, deigned by Lindey Cafsia, is a new form of building insulation that mimics a polar bear’s skin and fur. Known as Plyskin, this combination of biodegradable and recyclable materials meets building regulations in a way the designer says encompasses “functionality, aesthetics, and a high value of tactility.” In this day in age it seems like designers are looking increasingly toward nature to help resolve some our most complex social issues with a simple solution. This could be considered a viable method of design due to the fact that nature is considered to be a powerful creator because it has little mercy. Other benefits from mimicking nature are that the results typically do not require electricity and are less harmful to humans and the environment than ideas conceived purely by man. This introduces an interesting concept: that we should look to nature for help and inspiration to save nature (our environment). Perhaps people will think this means we should abandon all use of technology and go back to living off the Earth like our ancient ancestors, but instead I am proposing that we make more of an effort to integrate nature with technology so that they become one in the same. This way we will be able to benefit from both of these great forces instead of pitting them against each other; I believe the results may have success on a great scale that we haven’t seen before.

Works Cited



  1. leiph004

    Bio-mimicry is an interesting idea within many design fields, from simple exterior form to larger ideas like structural inspiration from fractals found in nature. The idea of utilizing our natural surroundings as inspiration for the built environment seems quite obvious, so it’s no surprise that designers gravitate to nature. Plyskin is an interesting exploration in bio-mimicry. The designer translates the big idea from the natural environment to a material technology quite well. The three-layer integration is a direct derivation of the polar bear’s insulating skin, which is created through 3D printing and recycling. I like how he is able to idealize the structure of the polar bear’s fur into a realistically achievable design. The honeycomb structure is already used in some structural applications, consistently in composite materials. So, the idea is there, the means of production is there, but perhaps the most important consideration is missing; application. As with many new materials, this will face the challenge of fitting in to the industry, if at all. The article introduces the idea of using Plyskin as an exterior insulation system. While this is certainly intriguing, it leaves very little room for diversity in pattern and texture within facade. The technology certainly could be utilized as an exterior insulation, but it’s simply “what you see is what you get.” I think the material is a good idea, and the inspiration is intelligently and creatively considered in both design and production, but with many materials it needs some improvement before it can be used in the industry.

  2. berge917

    Brooke Berge Weekly Journal 12|
    I agree that looking to nature for building material ideas is an interesting and innovative way of thinking. Buildings should work with nature, or in this case it can work in ways similar to nature, rather than against it. The more we learn about how humans are negatively impacting the environment, the more we will continue looking for new alternatives to the conventional ways. The fact that this material is made from bio-based recyclable materials as well as it not being hazardous to human health or the environment makes it an idea that should be developed further. It says the material “can provide efficient insulation for our homes” (materia), but there is not any specific data on how well it works as an insulator compared to the conventional insulation. Before it can be considered as an alternative to insulation, testing with results need to be shown. However, since it is a pretty recent material, there has not been enough research and testing on it yet, but that will happen with time. This material reminded me of the self-cleaning tiles modeled after the lotus leaf that reduces the need for cleaners that can be harmful to the environment. Overall, we can learn a lot from nature, and biomimicry materials are a good environmentally friendly solution.

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