This is the first post from our newest weekly contributor, Alex Levin! Welcome Alex! Check out this great modern post: The fusion of modern design with models found in nature can often produce profound results. Sometimes referred to as “biomimicry” or “bio-inspiration,” this practice of modeling the human world after the natural one dates as far back as Leonardo DaVinci’s early imaginative inventions, and it is this design theory that explains why airplanes resemble birds, or why a camera lens so closely imitates the operations of the human eye. When applied to home building, this theory takes on an entirely new dimension as it offers one the possibility of being able to live in harmony with nature.
When David Fanchon first premiered his residential concept model called The Pearl last March, he garnered the attention of many who saw his design as a fulfillment of the promise of biomimicry. Not only does Fanchon’s design capture the innate beauty of a classic seashell, but he also went to great lengths to make the model as eco-friendly and efficient as possible by incorporating design principles that utilize the natural environment.
“As far back as I can remember,” Fanchon begins, “I have always been fascinated by nature’s way of best adapting to its surrounding. It is a great source of inspiration and discovery which has brought me to be sensitive to the intimate relationship between our bodies, our habitats and our environment. Through ‘Functional Beauty,’ my main goal is to create ideal conditions for people to live and blossom in harmony with our environment.”
One of the ways in which The Pearl achieves this is through the use of passive solar building design, which takes into consideration the sun’s daily and seasonal course in order to regulate the interior temperature. “I was looking for a solution to create an optimized passive solar structure,” Fanchon says. “The semicircular facade appeared to be best adapted to optimize the building’s capability to take advantage of the sun’s natural daily and year round positions [so that the Pearl] is naturally heated in the winter and protected from the summer’s harsh heat.” Fanchon’s design also includes inclinable solar panels which further increases the energy efficiency of the design.
Apart from the environmentally friendly benefits of the model, Fanchon says that even its shape serves a purpose in addition to its appealing aesthetics. “The Pearl is directly inspired from a seashell, which as a result of millions of years of evolution and adaptation offers great structural strength and aerodynamics… By paying closer attention, I found that if I transferred its shape proportions (using the golden ratio) and attributes to our habitats, it would greatly serve our purposes of strength and protection with a twist of sun catching capabilities. Credits to mother nature!”
Moving inside of the home, a resident would find that just as much meticulous consideration has been put into the layout of the living spaces as was put into the exterior. Fanchon says that he planned the design to give a “heart” to the structure, represented by the living room which occupies the center of the home. “By putting the main living area at the very center of the south-facing 180° degree bay windows, I intended to create a sense of conviviality where all inhabitants share a privileged space. This would have been the location of the actual ‘pearl’ in an actual seashell – a place where it is able to gather all the energy and protection to grow, hence the house’s chosen name.”
Additionally, Fanchon stresses that the attainability of his model is not confined to the fabulously rich. Rather, by utilizing prefabricated parts and by offering 8 different sizes ranging from 300 sq. ft. to 5,000 sq. ft., Fanchon says that his model offers a solution for everyone. “My original intention with this design was to create a structure that could be partially prefabricated using durable, sustainable, available and economical materials… The result is a housing solution adaptable to many landscapes and climates which remains affordable to build and easy to maintain.”
Fanchon concludes by saying that since the release of the design to public scrutiny, he has received overwhelmingly positive feedback and hopes to begin construction soon. “With the growing demand for balanced ecologically inclined habitats, we are in the planning stages for several residences and ‘eco resorts’ in various locations around the globe,” he says. “I hope this design brings people together with a greater sense of awareness of the world around them.”