The construction industry has a lot to learn from termites and social insect engineering, says Nuru Karim
In his TEDx talk 'The Humble Termite and other stories' at Somaiya Vidyavihar, the architect spoke eloquently about how the construction industry could learn lessons from the humble termite
'The Humble Termite and other stories' was a recent TEDx talk by architect Nuru Karim of Nudes in Mumbai. The talk presented the case of how the multi-million-dollar construction industry could learn from the humble termite and social insect engineering.
"Inspite of being a cash-rich sector, the construction industry has invested little in research and innovation. In addition to being arguably the largest contributor to climate change, there are lessons to be learnt from the construction of ecological self-sustaining termite mounds through simple bottom-up design processes," observed the architect.
Karim argues for a case of embracing cutting-edge technologies based on swarm intelligence, including allied technologies. Technologies such as robotic swarms, 4D printing based on emergent bottom-up design processes have a significant role to play not only in urban India but also rural India, he insisted.
Drone technologies are already being explored as 'first responders' in natural or man-made disaster scenarios. Karim adds that 'Cities of the future' need to take a cue from social insect engineering demonstrating self-sustaining, self-repairing 'eco-cities' in the absence of any central authority, plan or blueprint exploring self-organising bottom-up design processes. He concluded with a statement that future technologies have a significant role to play in the realm of nation building and social development across sectors.
About the architect
Architecture threw a spell on Nuru Karim around the tender age of 12. Despite there being no such career precedent in the family, Karim was backed by his parents when he took up a study program at McGill University, Montreal, Canada. His graduation at KRVIA, under the mentorship of the dean Sen Kapadia, made young Karim opt for his Master’s in Architecture & Urbanism from the Architecture Association, London, UK. The insightful experience working with Patrik Schumacher at Zaha Hadid Architects before returning to India also taught him the importance of hard work, discipline and professionalism.
Karim’s design experience has been influenced by his art-immersive and book-loving travel. Brimming with ideas, a win in a competition for a 1,00,000sq-ft school building seeded the birth of his own design firm – Nudes – in 2010. The practice is defined at the crossroads of public art, architecture and computational design with design-related services including reverse engineering and design optimisation for quality and budgetary control.
Taking the service to the next level of a wider research context, Nudes includes teaching and writing on both art and architecture. Engaging with the complex, layered conditions of the contemporary city, the practice seeks to create a tectonic, material and experiential architecture rooted in its context at all scales.
Karim’s projects are made to connect people and place. Noteworthy in translating this objective are Educational Institute in Warangal, Ryewood International School, Charkha, The Bad Cafe, Protostar Pavilion for Mercedes Benz and Villa Dodia. The award-winning architect dreams of designing a museum at some point.
Click on the link below to watch the TEDx talk by Nuru Karim...