Student Corner

Can We Imitate Nature?

The survival and survival of human beings in a healthy way depends on designing their built environment without causing destruction and environmental damage in the natural environment. The harmony of the built environment with the environment is two important topics that cannot be evaluated separately. The ultimate goal in the concept of sustainability in architecture is to integrate with the environment through design. In this direction, from source to production, from use to destruction, and the absorption of buildings that have completed their useful life in the natural environment constitute the basic principles of sustainable built environment design. In this context, we need to develop a design approach and environmental model in which we give the right to live to all living things in nature, and take responsibility not only for ourselves but also for future generations to live in healthy environments.
One of these design approaches is the eco-imitation-based design approach. Ecomimicry is the design of artificial ecosystems by imitating the structural features, functions and processes of natural ecosystems. (Yeang, 2012). It is very difficult to renew our built environment from scratch, instead we can take natural ecosystems formed by plants, animals and microorganisms that can sustain their lives naturally. When we examine natural ecosystems, we see that there is no concept of waste. We have known since primary school years that after a living thing completes its life, its body decays and becomes a food source for another species. In other words, organism wastes have nutritional value for another organism. In ecosystems, everything is assimilated and reintegrated into the system. Eco-imitation aims at the harmonious assimilation of everything in the built environment by the system by taking the working order of ecosystems as an example. (Yeang,2012) Our aim is to try to use the current production in the best way, instead of increasing waste production. One of the most important steps to be taken in this regard is to implement the recycling process effectively. Waste generation is maximized when constructing building systems for human needs and activities. The buildings we live in, the products we use, the clothes we wear become waste only when they lose their use value. In this case, our duty is to reveal the building and environmental approaches that are in the blood circulation of nature in the construction industry and to remain respectful to the environment while doing all these. (Bektas, 2013).
Natural systems should be a huge source of inspiration for the building industry. Today, we see the damage caused by human beings to the natural environment and we feel its effects more and more severely. So, who are the living things that carry out the polluting task of human beings in natural systems? Have you ever wondered? There is no concept of "polluter" in natural ecosystems. Toxins are not stored and transported in bulk at the system level and can only be synthesized and used by individual species as needed. In this process, toxins are processed by soil organisms. (Yeang,2012)
Sustainability and ecodesign is not just a topic that certain groups talk about, it is now a common agenda for all of us. There are many topics that we will take steps and talk about in this regard. We can say that the first step we will take is to understand nature and to imitate nature.

1.Bektaş, C. (2013). Türk Evi, YEM Yayın, İstanbul, Şubat 2013.
2.Yeang, K. (2012). Ekotasarım Ekolojik Tasarım Rehberi, YEM Yayın, İstanbul, Nisan 2012

Başak Erik

ITU Department of Architecture

Environmental Control and Building Technology Department

Graduate Student


Due to the industrialization and urbanization that has accelerated in the last 20 years, the inefficient use and consumption of natural resources, the direct or indirect effects of human-made activities on the living spaces of other living things, unbalanced growth due to the intense population growth in cities and the loss of natural thresholds, urban areas are affected by climate change. faced with new problems. The starting point of the concept of sustainable development came to the fore for the first time in 1972 through the Stockholm UN Conference on Human and Environment. Article 15 of the Stockholm Declaration; It is stated that “planning should be applied to settlements and cities in order to prevent negative effects on the environment and to provide maximum social, economic and environmental benefits” (KARAKURT TOSUN, 2009). The concept of sustainable urbanization has emerged with the accelerated urbanization phenomenon and the search for solutions for environmental problems has revealed the concepts of "Sustainable and Ecological City", which are new approaches of urban planning.

The city is a dynamic system and is in constant change and development. Cities advancing towards globalization in the new economic order should be handled with a holistic approach. cities; Architectural structures, landscape elements, transportation links, public open spaces, channels, etc. form the urban systems as a whole. Subsystems interact and change both with each other and with the urban system above them. The problem that occurs in a part of the system affects the whole system and changes its functioning. This situation clearly reveals why cities should be considered as a whole, not piecemeal, and examined on a city scale with a holistic planning approach in order to achieve common goals. And we know that climate change is a global problem, not just one region of the world. To deal with global problems; In order to contribute to our common future by setting global goals, it is necessary to consider cities with a holistic approach.

There are some urban policies that cities should follow for sustainability. First of all, each city should make the necessary damage assessment for its specific conditions and develop its strategies and action plans in this direction. A long-term vision, comprehensive action plans and determination of implementation methods will guide the project design processes by providing measurable and comparable results.

Arcadis Sustainable Cities Mobility Index

In the research conducted in 2017 according to the Arcadis Sustainable Cities Mobility Index, the overall performance of the mobility systems of 100 different world cities was monitored. There are 23 individual indicators reflecting each component that makes up the index and it has been reduced to 3 sub-indices: Human, planet, profitability (ARCADIS, 2017). The social dimension of sustainability is examined under the title of human, the environmental dimension under the title of planet, and the economic dimension under the title of profitability. Each index is detailed with its social, environmental and economic dimensions.


The human-centered societal index has been shaped by studies to examine the effects of people and the necessities of social life by associating them with the quality of life for the inhabitants and visitors of the city. Human sub-index; speed safety (traffic accidents), access to transportation services, the share of public transportation services in transportation, the digitization of transportation systems, the maintenance of the transportation system, the accessible hours of the subway, the provision of disabled access (for the hearing, physical and visual disabilities) (ARCADIS, 2017) . When we think more comprehensively; It covers the main topics such as health, quality of education, social life, urban security, participation, income balance and unemployment rate. It is the right of every individual in society to live in livable, sustainable and safe cities. Providing this right to individuals can only be made possible by creating a clean, safe and sustainable environment.


The planet-centered environmental index includes topics such as the impact assessment of green factors such as energy-pollution-emissions. It supports the evaluation of the environmental impacts of urban production, consumption, waste and recycling cycles and the carrying out of studies for the protection and maintenance of natural resources. Planet sub-index; It carries out studies on issues such as greenhouse gas emissions, congestion and delays, air, water, light and soil pollution, bicycle infrastructure and supporting electric vehicles (ARCADIS, 2017). Environmental pollution (air, water, light and soil quality), waste management and recycling, adequacy of urban green areas (10 m2 green area per person), protection of biological diversity, greenhouse gas emissions, drinking water and treatment systems, support of renewable energy systems (such as solar, wind, hydrogen, human energy), natural disaster risk management, and advanced and integrated transportation systems. At the same time, areas that need to be protected in terms of environmental sustainability: forest and agricultural areas, water collection basins, groundwater and reserve areas, coastal areas, protected areas and Bosphorus areas are areas of critical importance for the protection of our natural resources. Sustainable planning approach does not only carry out studies to protect the existing potential, but also plays an important role in the efforts to reduce the carbon footprint with the integration and interoperability of systems, ensuring biodiversity, energy saving and orientation to alternative energy sources, expanding the green areas to meet the needs of the population. has.


Finally, the profitability, or economic index, evaluates the efficiency and reliability of the mobility system to enable economic growth. Profit sub-index; It is explained as travel time to and from work in a city, transportation costs and revenues, financial commitment for public expenditures, public affordability of the public transportation system, the amount of use of the systems and the adequacy of road networks (ARCADIS, 2017). These indicators represent the “economic health” of the city in a broad sense. These titles determine the point of success of the city economically and its place in the global economy.


Environmentally friendly green buildings, which have gained great importance in the circular economy in recent years, have made an important progress in solving urban problems. Green building practices, which are carried out to reduce carbon emissions at the building scale, especially in cities with high population density, and green building certification studies, which ensure that practices are encouraged in the construction sector, are promising efforts to ensure the sustainability of resources. From the point of view of the campus, the construction of the buildings from the planning stage with the applications in accordance with the sustainability conditions provides the right solutions at the lower scale in order to prevent future problems that may be experienced.

Since most of the work, home and social life of people in urban living areas is spent in buildings, buildings to increase the quality of life should be considered as a priority. In green building applications, proximity to public transportation, positioning to reduce the time spent in transportation, settlement in a way that will make the most of daylight and not prevent air circulation, use of building materials that reduce noise and light pollution, prevent urban problems with proper use of infrastructure, ensure the sustainability of the land, It also contributes to increasing the quality of life of settlements with many factors such as the use of alternative energy sources such as solar energy and rain water, recyclable use of water and solid waste, meeting future needs and long-term durability. From this, it can be deduced that green buildings are an important step for the solution of urban problems. In the implementation of green buildings, not only the building scale is considered, but also the criteria on the basis of campuses are taken into consideration, thus paving the way for green campuses and supporting urban sustainability. In construction applications, a correct step will be taken to establish a holistic green campus system by following the green building criteria as well as the sustainability criteria on a campus basis. Green buildings and campuses are indispensable application tools to reach the 3 basic indices of sustainable cities, human, universe and profitability indices. Providing the main universe, namely the environmental index, will be encouraging and complementary for other indices as well. Environmental sustainability is key to achieving livable and sustainable cities.

Sustainable urbanization, while supporting the protection and maintenance of natural resources, advocates an integrated project design process that includes participation with economic, social and environmental factors, and treats the city as a living organism. In the globalization process, necessary lessons are learned from the mistakes made in the past and a new process of change is entered in line with the future targets. Up to the present day, natural assets and resources have been loaded above the maximum carrying capacity, economic interests have overtaken the ecological balance, the production-consumption-recycling balance has been disrupted, and nature has been massacred. In the future, more decisive steps should be taken on ecological balance and joint solutions should be sought with the necessary public-private cooperation. Thanks to the new period building-based certification studies carried out on this subject, daily living spaces, sectors, work areas, social facilities are moving towards becoming a state of mind together with nature. It has become inevitable that energy efficient systems, which are considered at the scale of the building, will enter our living spaces as campuses in the future.


1. ARCADIS (2017). SUSTAINABLE CITIES MOBILITY INDEX 2017. BOLD MOVES. [online] New York. Available at: http://file:///C:/Users/TOSH%C4%B0BA/Downloads/Sustainable%20Cities%20Mobility%20Index.pdf [Accessed 2017].

2. KARAKURT TOSUN, E. (2009). SÜRDÜRÜLEBİLİRLİK OLGUSU VE KENTSEL YAPIYA ETKİLERİ. [online] Available at: [Accessed Jul. 2009].

             Gizem Ölmez

ITU Faculty of Architecture

City and Regional Planning Department



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