Biomimetics on the main floor of Casa Batllo
Biomimicry (from bio, life, and mimesis, imitation) is the methodology that relates the study of nature to replicate its forms and structures in the field of design.
Nature for Gaudí was always a source of inspiration and especially the study of the structures and biological functions, like his quote says “The big book, always open and we must strive to read, is that of nature.” A superb example of biomimicry that both professed Gaudí can be seen on the main floor of Casa Batllo where, from the design of the roofs and knobs to the shape of the fireplace all match shapes and figures derived from elements of nature.
Due to some problems that Gaudí suffered with his joints from when he was quite young, he spent long periodsif time in the countryside, away from school and learning in a natural environment that later became the key to his work. A young architect that questioned all the elements of nature, from the shapes of birds, to the different hardness of the stones, the smells, the colors, the shapes of the trees or the animal bone structure. Questions linked to this profound religiousness determined all his subsequent career, under the principle that nature as the supreme work of the Creator was therefore the highest perfection. Hence the reason this wise secret of nature was applied in his architecture it was the most logical route in the construction process.
This weight that nature had as an inspiration for Gaudi is observed not only in the construction solutions adopted by Gaudí in his works but also in the clear biomimicry that some elements present. For example, the repeated use of spirals on Casa Batllo´s main floor, responds to the movement of water and air in nature. This is in the form of swirls and whirlwinds and therefore the constant regeneration of nature. A large spiral on the roof of the Grand Central Hall would be strengthened by the swirling represented in the hydraulic mosaic pavement that Gaudí had posed for this house. Another unique ceiling that represents water, is located in Batlló´s private dining room, overlooking the inner courtyard, where Gaudí imitates waves that reproduce when a drop of water falls on the surface.
However the sinuous lines of the Casa Batllo and the absence of straight lines make it look more like a living organism than a building, where not only the water and air effects are blending, but also more tangible elements such as the shapes of the bones, legs and feet on the columns of the gallery. The house has been given the nickname of the “House of Bones” by visitors or elements that refer to the fields of mycology, zoology and botany. A beautiful example of symbiosis with the world of mycology, is the mushroom-shaped fireplace located in Mr. Batllo´s old office. If we enter the field of zoology, you can observe the appearance of the Tribune bones of a large bat with outstretched wings on the window columns and we can also find skylights that seem to be turtle shells and knobs that twist like snails. With twisted surfaces we also enter the field of botany, the branches of a tree, the leaves of a flower and so on.
It is therefore in Casa Batllo, that the term “naturalistic architecture” was highlighted in Gaudí, since it was not only applied in the construction but biomimetic examples can also be seen in the beautiful conserved furniture. The design was based on the shapes of nature, adapting to the morphology of the human body and having concavities and turns in order to ease the use. Note that although the legacy of Gaudí is one of the most important references in world´s history of biomimetic architecture, this did not take place under existing principles of sustainability. The inspiration for Gaudí was the aesthetic and philosophical character, respect and devotion to nature´s elements.
More information: Presentation de la World Biomimetic Foundation