15 May 2011

Biomimicry: Workshop at Aquarium from 8 to 10 July

Stuart Dickinson
The eyes of the mantis shrimp could inspire the next generation of DVD and CD players, according to Science Daily

Sometimes inspiration can come from the strangest places, and often when it does, a typically good idea turns into a great one.

So think outside the box at the second biomimicry workshop to be hosted by the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town, scheduled for 8 to 10 July, and let nature inspire you in ways you never thought possible!

The workshop is open to anyone interested in biomimicry or sustainability, including professionals, students and educators, but is most relevant to the fields of life sciences (biology, ecology, etc), design, architecture, engineering, business, physical sciences, mathematics and the like. 

What is biomimicry?

It is essentially the practice of “learning from, and then emulating nature’s genius to solve challenges and create more sustainable designs” in everyday life. One of the most famous examples of biomimicry is Velcro, invented in 1941 by Swiss engineer George de Mestral, who got the idea from the burrs (small spiny fruit seeds) that clung to his dog’s hair.

Then there are the wind turbines inspired by the flippers of a humpback whale, which have tubercles (nodules/bumps) on them. The turbine blades also have bumps, which provide greater efficiency compared to smooth surfaces. 

Last year’s workshop, hosted by biomimicry professional and founder of biomimicrySA, Claire Janisch, was hailed as a great success. Teams worked on design challenges that tested their creative thinking and analytical ability, with interesting results.

For instance, teams were asked to “design a shelter or system that is able to adapt to unknown, but extreme weather conditions along the Cape Town coast, using shoreline creatures as inspiration”, as well as “design an innovative transport or mobility system for Cape Town inspired by an ocean ecosystem (eg a coral reef)”.

Dates and times

Claire will again take the helm at this year’s workshop, which takes place from 8 to 10 July, starting at 08h30 and ending at 16h30 each day. Registration takes place at 08h00 on 8 July.

On the first day, participants will be taken through the fascinating details of biomimicry, while the second and third day will be dedicated to a hands-on, practical exploration of the topic.

Schedule and prices

The workshop format is designed for a range of budgets and schedules, and includes:

  • Evening presentation: Latest news from the world of biomimicry open to the public – donations only, 7 July 2011, 18h00
  • Day 1: Introduction to the Foundations of Biomimicry (the core DNA of biomimicry) – 8 July 2011 (08h00 to 16h30)
  • Days 2 and 3: Hands-on Exploration of the Foundations of Biomimicry (going deeper and applying biomimicry to design challenges) – 9 to 10 July (08h00 to 16h30)


  • All three days: R2 200
  • First day only: R1 100
  • Days two and three: R1 100


A 50% discounted rate for students, educators and NGOs applies.
A 25% discount applies if payment is made before 31 May 2011. If three people from one organisation attend, pay for two only.

To book, contact Claire on claire@biomimicry.net or +27 (0)76 5786574 and supply your name, organisation and email address, and note that your booking will be confirmed upon payment. Please indicate whether you are a scholar, student, educator, NGO or professional. Payment details will be sent to you. 

The genius of water

Need more information? Check out this video taken at TEDxCape Town, where Claire speaks about the “Genius of Water”. Read more about TEDxCape Town here.

Video courtesy TEDxCapeTown

See also: Nature: The flawless inventor


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