Biomimicry, the study of natural processes for solutions to human problems, is a relatively young science—writer Janine Benyus coined the term in 1997—but it has already inspired some remarkable design strategies, including an office complex in Zimbabwe modeled on termite mounds. Good biomimetic design is often ingeniously simple, which is certainly the case with BioHaven floating islands, from the manufacturer Floating Island International, in Shepherd, Montana.
BioHavens are artificial islands made from a matrix of recycled plastic bonded with adhesive foam that can be sown with sod, garden plants, or wetlands plants and launched into waterways. As the plants develop, their roots grow through the plastic matrix into the water below. The plants’ roots and the island itself provide a vast surface area for microbes, which naturally filter out excess nutrients and pollutants, such as nitrates, phosphates, ammonia, and heavy metals. “Most landscape architects probably won’t be dealing with polluted water, but they’re likely to be dealing with nutrient-laden water,” says the company’s owner and cofounder, Bruce Kania. “We offer a stewardship tool by which to mediate that nutrient loading and turn it into something better.”
BioHavens are available in any size and will work with virtually any type of plant. The typical island supports about five pounds per square foot, so a large BioHaven is buoyant enough for more than just plant life—like, say, a picnic table, a few close friends, the family dog, and a nice dry Chablis.
Layers of 100 percent recycled PET plastic are bonded with an adhesive polyurethane foam.
Lightweight, easy to install, and available in any size; capable of supporting about five pounds per square foot; compatible with plants suited to the climate and water source
BioHavens can be used in ponds, lakes, rivers, and streams to beautify, remove pollutants and excess nutrients, provide wildlife habitats, and sequester carbon and other greenhouse gases.
Floating Island International
10052 Floating Island Way
Shepherd, MT 59079
Find out more facts about this story on the Reference Page: December 2007