What Materials Fuse
Art, Science And Architecture?

By Sybaris Collection

“Models that help scientists manipulate the natural world have been incredibly effective, and the changes in our lives serve to show that there is a relationship between theories of science and the natural world.” The idea comes from The Delusions of Certainty, Siri Hustvedt’s most recent book where the American writer fuses ideas from science with art and nature. Of course, this fusion is not new: at least since the middle of the 19th century it has increased exponentially. For current users, it is very common to watch television programs on Netflix where they talk about the inspiration that scientists take from nature to create new designs and solutions to our problems. What are the materials that, inspired by nature, have caused the most impact in recent years in the fields of science, technology and architecture? It’s called biomimetics: innovation inspired by nature. We review in this list 5 of the most notable examples.

Nelumbo Nucifera

This aquatic plant of the genus Nelumbo has the quality that its leaves are self-cleaning or ultrahydrophobic. Nanotechnologists have studied its behavior and how its surface acts in its natural state. What we know as the lotus effect refers to the ability of paints, fabrics and tiles to clean themselves. The result: extraordinary energy savings for cleaning and therefore an effective way to stop wasting money.

Self-generating Concrete

Does it sound familiar to you? The concrete in your apartment has cracks where water seeps. After two or three times, it begins to break down. And it is very likely that the water will penetrate your apartment to such a degree that it causes a disaster: You will need a new floor and furniture! Self-generating concrete was inspired by bacterial spores. It works like this: concrete has a dose of these bacteria inside it. When it cracks and the water leaks out, the bacterial spores produce calcites, generating a kind of biocement. Voilà! Although the technology is still not very accessible due to its cost, it is very likely that it will be used in homes on a regular basis in the future.

Paints Against Algae

For citizens of urban environments the issue may seem unimportant. But one of the great problems of the docks is the proliferation of algae. Shark skin has diamond-shaped dermal denticles that simply repel algae. Due to its shape, the algae do not “feel comfortable” to settle. This technology is called sharklet. With the naked eye it is not possible to see this diamond shape. It is also not sensitive to touch. However, it is extremely effective.

Image via https://www.magdalenaday.com.ar/neri-oxman-moma/


It is about what we commonly know as butterflies. Silkworms are capable of producing an enormous amount of silk to prepare for metamorphosis. In this art installation by Mediate Matter Group (led by MIT professor Neri Oxman) silkworms from Italy perch on a wire rope structure, resulting in a delicate kinetic piece. Made between 2019 and 2020, this piece of art was curated by Paola Antonelli and Anna Burckhardt.

Shrilk vs Plastic

One of the great evils of our time is the production and abuse of plastic. As never before, science tries to achieve a result similar to plastic, but that is not harmful to the environment. Shrilk is a material that mimics the cuticle of insects. It is biodegradable and would not represent high costs in its mass production. Ongoing research comes from the Wyss Institute at Harvard University.