Theme/Year: Food Systems 2015
Category: Open Challenge
Status: Award Winner
There are many food products, but they have a poor quality. Organic food is not readily available and it is disproportionately expensive. We selected our general objective to create a simple innovative and creative way of balcony gardening. "Grow your own balcony bio!" As the most common cause of failure of balcony growing we have observed a human element. Our biomimicry challenge was to design a complete device with an integrated system for plant survival which is able to rescue plants during the absence of an owner.
A balcony cultivator is divided in three functional parts that mutually support each other. The first is a bottom part for composting, the second part is used for plant cultivation and the third one serves for the assumed irrigation. The inspiration for the creation of our biomimicry system unifying natural patterns is based on the research conducted by dipl. biol. Philipp Comanns. Our biological inspiration is taken from Texas Horned Lizard that lives in arid areas. This lizard has developed special abilities to collect water with its body surfaces and to ingest so collected moisture. This is called rain- or moisture-harvesting. The water can originate from rain, air humidity, fog or dew. By the investigation of particular scales of the lizard skin and by producing the identic polymer replicas of the reptiles' integuments, scientists found that the honeycomb-like structures rendered the surface super-hydrophilic. The solution in our case is to design an artificial surface inspired by lizards that is sufficiently and suitably broken and made from hygroscopic material. These properties will ensure the enlargement of area and suitable conditions for the possible condensation of air moisture. The condensed water vapor will be collected by the surface of irrigation part of our balcony cultivator and transported directly to the roots.