Feb 284 min read

Animal-Inspired Architecture Design: What Can Architects Learn From Animals?

written by

Kishan Thakkar

When it comes to architecture, our minds often think of high-rise buildings, innovative designs, and cutting-edge technology.

But did you know that some of the greatest architectural masterpieces are not even designed by man, but rather designed right there in the world around us by animals?

That’s right — animals have been building their own homes for millions of years, and there are some fascinating methods that architects could learn from.

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Huge permanent nests of Sociable Weaver birds_©KSS Architects  

We’ll find out how animals make habitats that are not only functional but also highly efficient through their innovative technique.

What Can Architects Learn from Animals About Design?

Let’s take a closer look at how animals have become the ‘original architect’, mastering the art of sustainable design long before humans even existed!

Termite Mounds - Nature's Air Conditioning

Mounds of termites are an example of nature's architectural genius. These towering structures, built by tiny termites, are not only strong but also incredibly efficient at regulating temperature. 

Termites achieve this by designing their mounds with a series of vents and tunnels that allow for natural ventilation. 

image4_4_animal and architecture_kaarwan.jpgTermite Mound_©Frankenscience (YouTube Channel)

Their mounds, built from a mixture of soil, saliva, and excrement, serve as temperature-controlled homes.

Termites have mastered the art of adaptation, creating structures that stay cool in scorching heat and warm in chilly nights.

Architects can learn from termites about how to design buildings that optimize natural airflow and ventilation, reducing the need for energy-consuming HVAC systems.

For example, the Eastgate Centre in Zimbabwe was inspired by termite mounds and uses passive cooling techniques, such as ventilation chimneys and a system of ducts, to regulate temperature without the need for air conditioning.

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Inside Termite Mound_©Earthy Mission

The Beehive's Hexagonal Design

Bees are renowned for their collective work ethic and efficient use of space. The hexagonal cells within a beehive are a good example of this.

Not only do they maximize storage capacity for honey, but their hexagonal shape also ensures minimal use of materials and heat retention.

By designing compact, multifunctional spaces within buildings, architects can reduce energy consumption and promote thermal efficiency.

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The hexagonal cells of a beehive_©BigBlueStudio (Shutterstock). ImageApis Melifera

The Cactus and Its Water Storage

In desert environments where water is scarce, cacti thrive by storing water efficiently. Their fleshy stems serve as reservoirs, and their spiky exteriors minimize water loss due to evaporation. For example, in a housing project in a water-scarce region, architects can design rooftop gardens with cacti-inspired water storage systems, allowing residents to conserve water and reduce the reliance on traditional irrigation methods.

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Cactus stem_© Frontiers

Spiderwebs: Strength in Delicate Design

Spiders create intricate webs that are both lightweight and incredibly strong. These webs are constructed with minimal material in a geometrically efficient design.

By drawing inspiration from the strength and efficiency of spiderwebs, architects can apply similar principles to their designs, creating structures that are not only visually appealing but also durable and lightweight.

image1_1_animal and architecture_kaarwan.jpgImage by wirestock on Freepik

Nests as Model Structures

Birds, with their diverse habitats and nesting behaviors, have a lot to teach architects. From tree nests to cliffside dwellings, birds design structures that balance safety, comfort, and accessibility.

By studying these avian architects, architects can gain insights into creating homes that maximize natural resources, adapt to changing environments, and blend harmoniously with the landscape. One notable project that draws inspiration from avian architecture is the Biomimicry Institute's "Bird's Nest Stadium" in Beijing, which was inspired by the intricate nests built by the Weaverbird.

image6_6_animal and architecture_kaarwan.jpgImage by wirestock on Freepik

Ants - Complex Underground Networks

Ants, with their underground tunnels and chambers, demonstrate detailed planning and communal living. Their complex tunnel systems optimize space, temperature, and ventilation.

A lot can be learned from ant colonies when it comes to designing efficient, interconnected urban spaces that prioritize resource conservation and practical design in order to achieve the best possible results.

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Ant nest_©LawnStarter

The Cozy Retreats of the Sloths

Sloths, known for their leisurely pace, build their homes in the treetops using leaves and branches. These arboreal creatures have developed a strong understanding of load distribution, ensuring their tree-bound abodes remain stable.


In conclusion, the world of animal architecture offers a wealth of lessons for architects seeking to create more sustainable, efficient, and environmentally friendly buildings.

By studying the strategies employed by creatures big and small, architects can develop innovative solutions that benefit both humans and the planet. So, take a cue from nature, embrace the wisdom of the animal architects, and let your next architectural project be a defining example of the beauty of the natural world.

If you're an architect or designer looking to expand your knowledge and skills in the field, consider exploring the workshops offered by Kaarwan.

Our result-oriented workshops are designed to help professionals like you achieve your career goals through affordable and practical skill-based learning.

Kishan Thakkar

Kishan Thakkar

A content writer with extensive experience in creating content for AEC & Real Estate industries. He is working as a freelance writer, assisting businesses in building a robust online presence through the power of writing and content strategies.