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7 amazing examples of biomimicry

By: Shea Gunther on Feb. 8, 2010, 2:30 p.m.
Termite den = office building

Photo: Termite den: Alexander Johmann/Flickr; Eastgate Center: Wikipedia

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Termite den = Office building

Termite dens look otherworldly, but they are surprisingly comfortable places to live. While the temperature outside swings wildly throughout the day from lows in the 30s to highs over 100, the inside of a termite den holds steady at a comfortable (to a termite) 87 degrees.

 

Mick Pearce, architect of Eastgate Centre in Harare, Zimbabwe, studied the cooling chimneys and tunnels of termite dens. He applied those lessons to the 333,000 square-foot Eastgate Centre, which uses 90 percent less energy to heat and cool than traditional buildings. The building has large chimneys that naturally draw in cool air at night to lower the temperature of the floor slabs, just like termite dens. During the day, these slabs retain the coolness, greatly reducing the need for supplemental air conditioning.