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A critical review of biomimetic building envelopes: Towards a bio-adaptive model from nature to architecture

Sommese, Francesco; Badarnah, Lidia; Ausiello, Gigliola


Francesco Sommese

Gigliola Ausiello


The building envelope has an important role in regulating the energy exchanges between the internal and external environment. In recent years, various studies on technological solutions for responsive and intelligent envelopes have been carried out. The purpose of this paper is to investigate climate-adaptive building envelopes and related biomimetic solutions, providing a critical review of the state of the art. Various examples of the adaptive envelopes are analysed and compared with examples of biomimetic envelopes. This paper demonstrates the potential of the broad database of nature to provide solutions that can be implemented in architecture to achieve design solutions that are sustainable, energy efficient, and able to adapt to environmental changes. After an initial critical review of nature's adaptation strategies, a methodological approach has been proposed: the bio-adaptive model (bio-AM). Starting from the definition of the context and the relative abiotic factors, the bio-AM identifies the essential phases to transfer the functions of plants to building technologies, using adaptive materials capable of self-activation in response to environmental factors, thus potentially emulating the adaptation of plants in technological solutions for the future of sustainable buildings.


Sommese, F., Badarnah, L., & Ausiello, G. (2022). A critical review of biomimetic building envelopes: Towards a bio-adaptive model from nature to architecture. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 169, 112850.

Journal Article Type Review
Acceptance Date Aug 15, 2022
Online Publication Date Sep 14, 2022
Publication Date Nov 1, 2022
Deposit Date Nov 14, 2022
Publicly Available Date Sep 15, 2024
Journal Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Print ISSN 1364-0321
Electronic ISSN 1879-0690
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 169
Pages 112850
Keywords Biomimetics Adaptive building envelope Bio-inspired solutions Architectural design Bio-adaptive model Plant adaptations Adaptive materials
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