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Gianna Gruen | Ideas

Copying nature for better flood protection

The Elephant foot plant serves among others as a prototype for flood protection (Photo credit: CC BY 2.0: reibai/

What do a giraffe, an Elephant foot plant and a European Water Vole have in common? What sounds like the beginning of a joke is actually the brainchild of a British PhD student who tried to find innovative ideas for cities facing stormwater.

Due to climate change, such extreme weather events are becoming more frequent. So if nature becomes destructive, why not beat it with its own weapons? That’s what designer Richard MacCowan may have thought  – and looked for solutions in nature. He came up with a design proposal for an industral park in flood-prone areas that can “capture, store and distribute excess volumes of stormwater,” Treehugger writes.

Copying nature is known as biomimicry. The most famous example is the lotus effect for protecting surfaces from dirt. Whether this biomimicry approach is feasible or as costly as the protection plans for NYC has yet to be proven.


June 16, 2013



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