Property developer Italpinas Euroasian Design and Eco-Development Corporation (ITPI) is a strong advocate of the concept of biomimicry in their buildings.

ITPI is an Italian-Filipino company known for its advocacy for, and practice of, sustainable architecture and development around the country. The developer supports ‘biomimicry’ because it believes there is no richer source of inspiration than nature for buildings to work.

Its first property in Cagayan de Oro called Primavera Residences recently garnered a Five Star Award for Best Mixed-Use Development in the Philippines at the Asia Pacific Property Awards 2014-2015.

Chairman and CEO of ITPI, architect Romolo V. Nati explains that the biomimicry concept has been around for centuries, citing a famous historical example of how scientist Leonardo da Vinci copied the wings of a bat to invent his own flying machine.

Pointing out how consumption of natural resources and human development were in balance up to a certain point in history, Nati observes that the balance was broken primarily because of a cultural misconception that resources were infinite and man had total control over nature. For man to change, his thinking has to change first, which will positively impact cities.

For instance, property developers often copy models from around the world, which is wrong because something that works elsewhere may not work in another location. Additionally, developments tend to work against nature instead of adapting to it, resulting in structures becoming too dependent on artificial cooling systems, which contribute to rising CO2 levels.

Describing nature as actually the most intelligent designer with plants, animals and natural structures all designed with a purpose and function, Nati says the learnings from nature should be used and adapted to building design, to solve ventilation problems such as cooling and temperature control.

For the award-winning Primavera Residences, for instance, ITPI took inspiration from an anthill. One of Primavera Residences’ most prominent passive green features, the central column in the middle of every building, takes its cue from the hollow opening to the ant colony used for transporting materials and for ventilation.

The central column allows natural light into the building, diminishing the need for artificial lighting, and creates a funnel effect that allows air inside the building and distributes it to cross-facing units. Cantilevered edges absorb the sun’s heat before it hits the windows, helping to reduce the building temperature.

At its Coral City project, another architectural concept based on biomimicry, ITPI took inspiration from coral with the 30,000 sqm green complex featuring individual, interconnected buildings in ring-like shapes that can withstand earthquakes, typhoons and floods.

Architect Nati says one of the most significant benefits of looking to nature for design inspiration has been the huge savings achieved on construction costs. For instance, by incorporating passive design features, they don’t need to use expensive equipment or hire speciality green construction firms to construct their designs.

ITPI’s design inspiration is helping property buyers save money, with 20% savings being achieved on electricity thanks to the green features.