Exploring design principles of biological and living building envelopes: What can we learn from plant cell walls?

Yangang Xing, Phil Jones, Maurice Bosch, Iain Donnison, Morwenna Spear, Graham Ormondroyd

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20 Citations (SciVal)
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A number of innovations in building envelope technologies have been
implemented recently, for example, to improve insulation and air
tightness to reduce energy consumption. However, growing concern
over the embodied energy and carbon as well as resource depletion, is
beginning to impact on the design and implementation of existing and
novel building envelope technologies. Biomimicry is proposed as one
approach to create buildings which are resilient to a changing climate,
embedded in wider ecological systems, energy efficient and waste free.
However, the diversity of form and function in biological organisms and
therefore potential applications for biomimicry, requires a holistic
approach spanning biology, materials science and architecture. It is
considered timely to re-examine opportunities to learn from nature,
including in the light of recent understanding of how plant form and
function are determined at the cellular levels. In this article, we call for a
systemic approach for the development of innovative biological and
living building envelopes. Plant cell walls are compared to building
envelopes. Key features of cell walls with the potential to inform the
development of design principles of
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-102
JournalIntelligent Buildings International
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2017


  • adaptability
  • energy conservation measures
  • ecological design
  • intelligent building
  • green building
  • biomimicry
  • biometrics
  • adaptable facade
  • plant wall cell


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