Beijing’s National Aquatics Center, built for the 2008 Olympics, is a prime example of biomimicry. Known as “the Watercube,” the design derives its shape from the make-up of soap bubbles, which coincidentally strengthens its resistance to seismic activity. Each plastic “bubble” serves a higher purpose within the space, capturing air warmed by the sun and transferring its heat into the pool. Made of a highly durable plastic, the Watercube’s surface is protected from the sun’s damaging effects, weather, and settling dust.
Recent strides in engineering have also produced this biomimicry feat: Spiderweb Glass. Inspired by a particular collection of spiderwebs that use silk threads to reflect ultraviolet light, Spiderweb Glass seals an ultraviolet-reflecting coating into its surface. The coating’s placement mirrors that of a spiderweb and serves to warn birds (which cannot perceive regular glass) of the obstacle.