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Architect’s Energy Efficient Buildings Mimic Termite Dens

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Architect, Mick Pearce, designs energy efficient buildings modeled after termite dens.

I design low maintenance buildings with low capital and running costs, using renewable energy systems of environmental control. I am constantly developing and refining ways of making buildings that are suited to their natural environment and the people who use them. Architectural expression must construct a balance between the natural, social and economic environments in which a project is sited. My models are drawn from nature from copying natural processes, which I study through the new science of biomimicry.

I have become increasingly interested in the development of a new relationship between the city and nature. This has a wide-ranging influence on my architecture. The mindless burning of fossil fuels, ‘burning diamonds’, is having a disastrous effect on our natural, social and economic environment. We should aim instead to use the planet’s vast fossil resources for higher-state energy transfer processes to produce hydrocarbon materials like carbon fibre, while we move rapidly towards using renewable energy, which will give rise to a new solar age.

The termitary, which I used to develop the concept for Eastgate, has become the basis of my conceptual method. Like a termitary, built structures for humans must work as a complex , self-sustaining organism in which each part supports the activities of the other. Zero-carbon is no longer an dream: it is an attainable goal.

From 2001–2005 I was the Principal Design Architect of CH2 for the City of Melbourne, a 12 000m2 mixed use building in downtown Melbourne. This building follows the same principles at those established at Eastgate: the architecture and its visual expression should respond to the natural, socio-cultural and economic environment of its location in the same way that an ecosystem in nature is embedded in its site. The metaphor for Eastgate was the termitary, the metaphor for CH2 is the tree.

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