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Burj Khalifa — A Big Example of Biomimetics


Biomimetics is the science, and art, of taking inspiration from nature to solve engineering challenges in human technology. Here’s a big illustration — very big, in fact at 2,722 feet the tallest building in the world, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa.

A neat video from Real Engineering observes that the move to taller and taller skyscrapers is likely to continue as relevant engineering problems are solved:

In the case of the Burj Khalifa, they took inspiration for the trifold footprint of the structure from a desert flower, the spider lily or Hymenocallis.

The inspiration was not merely aesthetic or ornamental. “While this is a beautiful design” that maximizes window viewing, as the narrator explains starting at 5:10, it “also allow[s] the steel-reinforced concrete frame to take this shape,” a “central core provid[ing] excellent torsional resistance,” with “Y-shaped buttresses provid[ing] fantastic lateral bending resistance.”

Our old friend Casey visited in 2014, by the way, and sent home a couple of holiday snaps of this awesome structure.

We’ve cited biomimetic design many times, and for good reason. While not a definitive proof of ID, it surely offers highly suggestive evidence of purposeful design in nature, the inescapable sense that an engineer was here first, before human beings ever thought to focus on the problem at hand.

Sunset from Burj Khalifa, by Simon Bierwald [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

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