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animal architecture
how animals build & what we can learn?

The Gaia Group are an Edinburgh based architecture, planning and building research company and specialist designers & consultants in ecological building design. They have been using elements of animal architecture to develop concept designs for a range of building types. The research was part-funded by the DETR’s Partners in Innovation Scheme and by CIOAA (Construction Industry Organisations interested in Animal Architecture).

The project was sponsored by the DETR through its Partners in Innovation Scheme.

The project aimed to bring animal building to the attention of the construction industry in order to encourage innovation.

An area of particular interest is to explore new ideas and research needs within the context of sustainability and to address biodiversity. environmental pollution & protection which are key aspects of Government Sustainable Construction objectives.

reciprocal frame construction

Animals are responsible for some impressive, experienced and environmentally sensitive architecture. Like humans they construct in order to transform their environment, improve their quality of life and provide safety and security for their young.Their achievements in structural form & strength, microclimate creation, material exploitation, membrane design, ventilation and pest management are immense.

However, we still know very little about these achievements, the underlying physical principles, and how we might apply them.

In contrast to animal builders, humankind uses significant mechanical and chemical resources to create and transform our habitat. It is argued that use of these resources has been a principal element in our species success, but how optimised is our performance?

  • How significant and predictable are the problems which we are introducing for future generations?

  • Whilst resources were abundant and adverse impacts of pollution largely dispersed the approach was understandable, but how well adapted are we now that generic and specific toxicity is apparent?

  • Can we use our intellect, and our knowledge of the natural world and physical & biological principles to design our built environment to design a safer, more hospitable and sustainable future?

  • What information do we need to create a culture shift in relation to place, process and product?

Animal Construction Company
(exhibition Hunterian Museum Glasgow1999)

The project fits within a programme of research & innovation work undertaken by members of Gaia Group

Animal Architecture Guidance Note 2000

The work to date is summarised in a guidance note which covers principal areas of interest. It includes a summary of a workshop held in April 2000 in which contributions were made covering a range of specific and generic animal building principles. Precedents have been identified where principles which may have corollary with animal architects have been used. Price £20 (cheque with order) from Gaia Research.

please direct enquiries on animal architecture to

 GaiaGroup : Gaia Research : Research & Innovation : Animal Architecture : Back

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