Title: Researching biomimicry by adapting leaf features of Victoria Amazonica(Water Lily) in designing portable evacuation shelter base for the use of evacuation when flood occurs.

Name: Tan Chiew Nee



The main issue tackled in this project is about proposing a solution to the flood victims for better evacuation method and system when flood occurs. Background studies has covered the general information about flood events happened in Malaysia and the damages caused by the natural disaster and the frequent issues faced by these flood victims. Firstly, it is to understand the context and strategies needed for the proposal to select and study the right plant/animal for the same purposes.

Research was done on water lily plant, Victoria Amazonica with its giant leafs elected for the investigation as it adapted a similar context and function which is to float on the water surface and to withstand the large leaf load. The leaf structure is explored and adapted in to designing the base of the evacuation shelter in order for it to float more steadily and with stand load more evenly.

Several prototypes were done by incorporating the ratio and formula provided by other researchers in designing the most effective one that can cater fully to the function proposed which is to withstand load of users and help them with self-evacuation. The portable mechanism was also done based on the branching pattern and manner originated from the growth of the leaf structure.

Based on the results of the experiment, analysis and outcome were given from the observation and it can conclude that the leaf structure is proven to work more effectively in terms of keeping the structure balance while floating on water surface as the structure can help to distribute the load more evenly as compared to a normal flat surface. In conclusion, it is important to not imitate directly the nature but to make use of the strength and strategy that can make a design performs better.

Biological Mimicry System

  • Organism: Leaf of water lily plant

  • Challenge: To float above water all the time

  • Strategy: The back of the leaf is strengthen with girder-like ribs that keep the leaf rigid and steadily floating on the water. The surface of the leaf is coated with a wax-like layer to keep it dry at all time, (Asknature, 2018).

  • Function: 1)     Group: To remain on the water surface to capture maximum sunlight for photosynthesis; survival skill. 2) Sub-group: The strong ribs at the back of the leaf to distribute and withstand the leaf weight evenly and keep it rigid and floating steadily on the water surface.

Water Lily Lead

  • Fresh water flowering plants in the tropical country.

  • Most has rounded, waxy-coated leaves with long stalks that contain air spaces within to float on the freshwater surface.

  • Leaf also known as Pad due to wide surface that allows them to capture maximum sunlight for photosynthesis.

Victoria Amazonica

  • Appears on water surface as a large bud, studded with spine then burst open and spread.

  • Leaf is flat with growing rims at the edge and the rim helps to shoulder aside other things surrounding it.

  • Leaf grows and expands at the rate of ½ m2 per day until 2-3m (Asknature, 2018).

  • The leaf is strong and stiff due to girder-like ribs structure beneath it (Festeryga & Kim, 2008).


Feature & Function 
1. Spine & ribs


  • To keep the leaf rigid in shape & to withstand and support the load of leaf.

  • Spine is connected to a girder-like structure (ribs) beneath the leaf surface.

  • The ribs are reinforced by a series of concentric, pliant fibers running in the opposite direction, this helps to distribute the weight evenly throughout the whole piece of leaf.

  • In between these ribs contain air-spaces that store air to allow the large leaf to stay afloat.


2. Up-turned rim

  • To shoulder alongside other leaves or objects surrounding it.

  • Cut slits at the edge of rim to vent out excess water.

Problem Statement

The issue I would like to address is how adapting the leaf features of giant water lily into designing a portable emergency evacuation shelter can help users to self-evacuate and float steadily above the rising water level when flood occurs.

Research Question

How can adapting the leaf features of giant water lily into designing a portable emergency evacuation shelter can help users self-evacuate and float stay above the rising water when flood occurs?

Background Study

Urban Flood Issue

  • Frequently happen and damaging natural disaster happening in the world (Fijko et al., 2019) due to occurrence of extreme rainfall that is caused by climate change (Lee & Choi 2018; Lee & Kim 2018).

  • Affects an approximate area of 29,800 km2, involving more than 4.8million people annually (Asian Reduction Disaster Centre, 2011).

Evacuation Management during Flood

  • Due to certain geographical constraints and logistical issues, the victims faced difficulties to be evacuated immediately.

  • During the flood just happened recently last year, residents of the cut-off village swam through the flood water of 1.8m to seek for food and water supplies from the rescue teams.



  • Nature has been a long inspiration and by adapting the unique ways of how nature grows and evolves can be integrated into design work.

  • Surviving strategies found from the surrounding nature can help to improve and make certain designs better and perform more effectively.

  • It is crucial to investigate and study how nature reacts to the environment with the features and the functions.

  • Biomimicry is not to imitate directly the biological system but to adapt the strength and ability of the system to be translated and further improvised into the proposed design.

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