In an ArchDaily piece, (which is quickly becoming my new favorite website), Karen Cilento writes about this new art instaltion at the London International Pestival: The TERMES Project. The idea is to build a structure that mimics wood eaten by termites, but large enough to admire it on a human scale to see what we might learn about insect design. Apparently termites posses an amazing sense of ventilation when they dig into wood; often burying themselves deep where access to air might be difficult to envision to the naked eye. Here are some more photos of the exhibit:

From the TERMES website “Project TERMES (Termite Emulation of Regulatory Mound Environments by Simulation) is a truly adventurous and far reaching project. Using new, cutting-edge technologies we are copying the complex internal structure of these mounds, so that we can build our own homes in the same way.”

and… “No-one has ever seen this structure and we are revealing it to the world for the first time. What we learn from these mounds will enable us to change the very fabric of construction as we know it, so not only can we build our own buildings on any terrain, against any backdrop, anywhere on the Earth, the Moon and Mars, maybe we can make a difference to climate change from the comfort of our own arm chairs. ”

It reminds me of a whole slew of things. When Joseph Campbell said in a lecture that humans are the only animal capable of creating art; termites and carpenter ants are the two greatest counter examples. Just take a look at this here ant masterpiece:

or this by honey bees in Thailand for that matter:

Insects working together are constantly installing little public arts projects don’t you think? Of course there is a downside to making any firm connections between insects and humans. While the human population growth does mimic that of an ant colony, we are, unlike ants, curving our population at a much more satisfactory rate than Mathus had implied. Still, there is oodles to be learned from nature, whose low tech solutions are quite marvelous and well documented in Jeanine Benyus’ book Biomimicry. Just check out this here excerpt I wrote up just last month on polycultures which are sure to be the next hip thing in the urban agriculture front.