Since 2012, six bridges have collapsed in Mumbai, killing 28 people and injuring hundreds. Often, news of flyovers and pedestrian bridges tumbling down have made it to the headlines across the country. Although durable materials like steel and concrete are used in today’s structures, poor quality of construction and lack of maintenance are often blamed for such catastrophes. Contrast this with the rock-solid centuries-old root bridges found in Meghalaya—many as old as 250 years and still growing strong—built without modern tools or design. Could the structure of these bridges unravel architectural clues for urban construction? In a recent study, researchers from Germany and the USA have tried to understand the morphology and structure of these root bridges, built out of the aerial roots of strangler figs, and that have endured floods, earthquakes, landslides and fires.
Termites are renowned architects whose mounds have inspired many building designs around the world. But did you know how termites build their mud castles? A new study has tried to understand how termites use boluses -- a combination of mud and saliva acting as bricks -- to build their mounds. The study also throws light on the properties of materials the termites prefer to use to build mounds and discusses reasons behind the same. This study, the researchers claim, is a first towards understand the unique procedure followed by nature’s best architects in building some of the finest castles.