Gaia Architects

learning from the world's oldest builders

Animal Architecture

Client: Partners in Innovation DETR

Gaia Research was invited through the DETR Partners in Innovation scheme to research and explore animal building with the aim of encouraging innovation in the construction industry. Particular focus was given to new ideas and research needs within the context of biodiversity, environmental pollution & protection.

Animals are responsible for some impressive, skilled 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 significant element in our species success, but how optimised is our performance? How significant and predictable are the problems that we are introducing for future generations? How will we adapt as these resources inevitably diminish? How will we respond to the changes that use of these resources has created? Can we use our intellect, and our knowledge of the natural world and physical and biological principles to design a safer, more hospitable built environment for a sustainable future?

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