The College of the Environment and the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences are excited to present the annual Sustaining Our World Lecture on April 4, 2013, from 6-7 p.m. This year’s lecture, Built Ecologies: Regionalism and Resource Integration in the Built World, features Thomas Knittel, vice president and project designer with HOK, a global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm.
First licensed as an architect in 1986, Mr. Knittel joined HOK in 2007 and has become a leading voice and innovator in sustainable design at the firm’s Seattle studio. His work in biomimicry—taking inspiration from natural systems in order to solve human problems—focuses on integrating models from nature into the design of buildings, communities and cities.
For his talk, Mr. Knittel will explore approaches to the built environment that model, mimic and incorporate natural systems. Drawing on research and project examples from Brazil and Haiti to China, he will discuss how new design strategies and solutions, in order to be more resilient, must be integrated with sustainably produced regional resources—and how design informed by nature provides insights, from the nano to the macro, toward building a sustainable future locally and globally.
“We are increasingly aware of our need to reduce carbon emissions, and using sustainably produced regional resources can help achieve this goal,” says Mr. Knittel. “In the natural world, materials are generally used locally in a closed-loop system. For example, paper wasps make nests combining protein-based oral fluids and wood fibers. Form triumphs over material; the cellular configuration is strong, lasting and water shedding. Such a high degree of integration, translated at the human level, requires robust collaborations across multiple fields: scientists, designers, engineers and resource managers, to name a few—but it’s a replicable model.”