Skip to content
CityLab
Culture

A Skyscraper Made of Bones: How Biomimicry Could Shape the Cities of the Future

Researchers studying the potential of organic materials such as seashells say future cities may emulate the ultimate designer—nature.
relates to A Skyscraper Made of Bones: How Biomimicry Could Shape the Cities of the Future
Franck Michel/Flickr

In her lab at Cambridge University, the bioengineer Michelle Oyen has been busy making samples of artificial bone and eggshells. The samples are only centimeters in length, but she hopes that they’ll someday make up high-rises and skyscrapers. And in that way, cities of the future will emulate one of the most ingenious designers out there: nature.

That future is still decades away, but scientists like Oyen have been studying how processes found in nature—the way leaves self-clean, for example, or the way ants stay afloat in water—can solve some of humanity’s most challenging problems, like combatting climate change and building sustainable cities.