The concept of biomimicry is the architectural process whereby a building or structure takes its form from the imitation of organic systems and processes. It is sustainability on a whole different level, as architects who design using biomimetics seek to simply copy not only the organic form being mimicked, but also its organic function.
The Dancing Dragons, twin skyscrapers located in the newly developed Yongsan International Business District in Seoul, Korea, are prime examples of this design principle. The buildings were designed by architectural firm Adrian + Gordon Gill to include residential, retail and office elements.
The design itself holds sustainable principles at its core. However, instead of going the traditional green building route, the architects turned to nature in order to create a unique façade that is as functional as it is attractive.
The name of the buildings comes from the scale-like facades on each of the skyscrapers. These scales harken back to traditional Korean routes, emulating both the traditional pagoda façade aesthetic and the skin of the mythical dragon, a strong Korean symbol. The name Yongsan itself, in which the buildings will be located, translates to Dragon Hill.
As aesthetically unique as they may be, the scales serve a greater purpose. The designers say they provide a highly intelligent ventilation, or breathing, system, modeled after ‘certain animals’ including the mythical dragon. The scales are intended to overlap one another with 600 mm vents in between each allowing for optimum air circulation or ‘breathability’.
The buildings will stand 450 metres and 390 metres tall and will be be comprised primarily of glass. Strong glazing will be implemented in order to eliminate extensive solar gain. Architect Adrian Smith explains the slightly differing façade textures of the towers as giving the illusion of the two buildings moving together.
“There’s a sympathetic and complementary relationship between the two masses at the level of the cuts, almost as though they were dancing,” he says.
Further green technologies will be implemented through rooftop photovoltaic panels, a basement fuel-cell co-generation plant and extensive use of natural light, which is channeled throughout the highly transparent, glass interiors.
While these additional technologies offer to create a building that is highly energy efficient, it is the façade that allows the building to truly stand out. What the designers have tapped into is the concept of simplifying sustainability through mimicking naturally-found systems.
These systems have worked in the environment since the beginning of time, so confidence in the functionality of the building once completed is high. The most impressive feature of the entire development is the way in which it mixes beauty with function, and the developers are to be commended for the site’s architectural appeal and environmental responsibility.