You! Be Inspired! – 10 Nature Inspired Architectural Designs

by . August 17th, 2012

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”

– Albert Einstein

People say that necessity is the mother of all invention. But in most cases, a necessity is brought about by change, and Mother Nature is one of the best examples of something that is always changing. Our environment’s ever shifting nature has allowed both plant and animal life to evolve and adapt to be able to survive.

This amazing process has long been a source of inspiration for designers, engineers and architects for their building projects. This is because these designs are not just aesthetically pleasing but are also practical and innovative as some of them also take on the adaptive features of the things they were based on.

Here are 10 examples of awesome architectural designs inspired by nature.


Taipei 101 is located in the Xinyi District in Taiwan’s capital city – Taipei. It was formerly known as the Taipei World Financial center and was ranked as the tallest building in the world from 2004 to 2009. The building was designed by C.Y. Lee & Partners and was inspired by the indigenous slender bamboo that the country sees as an icon of learning and growth.

Taipei 101 (Source)

Bamboo Plant (Source)

The building is also considered as one of the greenest in the world when it was awarded the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum certification in July 2011.


The Beijing National Stadium or better known as the Bird’s Nest Stadium was designed by Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron for the 2008 Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Beijing, China. As the name implies, the stadium looks like a giant bird’s nest made out of 110,000 tons of steel.

Beijing National Stadium (Source)

Bird’s Nest (Source)

The entire cost of constructing the stadium has been reported at over US$420 Million. The infrastructure was also built using advanced energy-saving design and environment friendly features such as natural ventilation & lighting, a recycling system for rainwater, use of renewable geothermal energy sources and utilization of photovoltaic power technologies.


The Lotus temple in New Delhi, India was designed by Iranian architect Fariborz Sahba who took the lotus flower as his inspiration for the project. The temple is the site of worship for followers of the Bahá’í Faith.

Lotus Temple in India (Source)

Lotus Flower (Source)

The temple’s design is composed of 27 free-standing marble clad petals that are group in clusters of three in order to form nine sides (a stipulation of the religion). The building has nine entrances that all lead to a central hall capable of accommodating 2,500 people. The temple sits on a 26-acre piece of land along with nine surrounding ponds and gardens.


The Palm Islands are an artificial archipelago in Dubai, UAE that is shaped like a palm tree, topped with a crescent.  The archipelago  will be made from sand dredged from the Persian Gulf and will house both residential and commercial establishments such as hotels, residential beach side villas and apartments, theme parks and restaurants.

Palm Islands in Dubai (Source)

Palm Tree (Source)

The Palm Islands are being constructed by a local property developer in UAE – Nakheel Properties. The Belgian and Dutch land reclamation experts Jan De Nul and Van Oord were hired for the dredging operations.


This design by Manfredi and Luca Nicoletti was an entry for a design challenge for Taiwan’s new Center for Disease Control BioLab. The two buildings nicknamed as the Biolab Squadron were inspired by the shell of a nautilus and features interlacing geometric incisions in its outer skin.

Center for Disease Control Complex (Source)

Nautilus Shell (Source)

The pattern in its outer skin reproduces the four conventional symbols attributed to the DNA sequence of the bacteria that is to be studied in the building. The result of this design is a seemingly homogenous surface that is engraved with by symbols not known to common people.


The Chicago Spire is a skyscraper in Chicago, Illinois that was inspired by a seashell. Designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava and was developed by Shelbourne Development. Although the project was supported by a lot of people in Chicago, the developer faced numerous financial difficulties and design revisions which eventually caused the project’s end.

 Chicago Spire (Source)

Seashell (Source)

 The building’s construction efforts were officially abandoned in 2008 with only the foundation work completed and with a US$77 Million lawsuit filed against its Irish developer.


The Redwoods Treehouse is a pod-shaped structure that sits 10 meters high in a redwood tree. The treehouse, which draws inspiration from insect cocoons, can accommodate up to 30 guests and serve as a restaurant in which special occasions can be held.

Redwoods Tree House (Source)


Cocoon (Source)

Access to the treehouse is provided by an elevated walkway made from redwood milled on site. The Experience Group, the organization who secured exclusive rights to manage the treehouse also offer a dedicated 32-seater coach to facilitate the transportation of guests to and from the venue.


The Aldar Headquarters Building in Abu Dhabi is one of the most unique and striking infrastructures in the city’s skyline. It was voted as the Best Futuristic Design of 2008 and was inspired by a seashell.

Aldar Headquarters Building (Source)

Seashell (Source)

It is the first circular building in the Middle East which uses grids of steel for maintaining its shape. The building also features international Grade A specification which includes floor to ceiling glazing, an impressive double height dual entrance lobby and of course, amazing views of the entire city of Abu Dhabi and the nearby Al Raha beach.


Our next design is from the Aesthetics Architects Go Group from Bangkok. Their design for the Office of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Agriculture in Doha, Qatar is inspired by a plant commonly found in the desert – the cactus.

MMAA Building (Source)

Cactus plant (Source)

Just like a real cacti thriving in the arid desert environment, the designers of the building hopes to make the infrastructure a comfortable haven in the middle of the desert with energy efficient features such as sunshade panels that open and close depending on the sun’s intensity. There is also a botanic dome at the base of the building that houses a botanic garden.


The Beijing National Aquatics Center otherwise known as the Water Cube is another infrastructure commissioned by the Chinese Government for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. At first glance, the entire building looks like a cube of water and bubbles, but a closer look reveals that the infrastructure is made from a steel space frame clad with ETFE, a fluorine based plastic.

Beijing National Aquatics Center (Source)

Bubbles (Source)

The water cube hosted the swimming, diving and synchronized swimming events in the 2008 Olympics and was able to accommodate 7,000-17,000 people. The infrastructure is also a green building with its ETFE cladding that allows more light and heat penetration which in turn reduces energy costs.

Which design was most inspiring for you? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

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