Dr. Mercedes Garcia Holguera is a registered architect from the Polytechnic University of Madrid in Spain, and she has worked at leading architecture firms in Canada, Mexico and Chile before joining the Department of Architecture at the University of Manitoba in 2019. She is also a LEED AP BD+C and believes that the professional practice needs to move from a mechanistic interpretation of environmental issues towards a holistic and inclusive understanding of the field as related to the ideas of regenerative and biomimetic design.

Mercedes’ research follows a transdisciplinary approach to environmental building science that is inspired by Nature’s principles (as described in biomimicry and biomimetic design theories).

Biomimetic or biologically inspired design emulates Nature’s successful strategies in human constructs and has the potential to contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation, as well as increase the catalogue of environmental solutions in architecture. Biomimetic design is one effective and powerful tool for designing innovative built environments, and to expand the limits of creativity by training students in transdisciplinary methods. Students that participate on biomimetic courses and research are compelled to use knowledge and tools from other disciplines, they engage in complex systems thinking and develop sophisticated ways to face uncertainty during the design process. There are strong pedagogical values behind biomimetic design and research that can help improve soft and hard skills of undergrad and graduate students, and therefore better prepare them for a changing professional environment. Areas of application of biomimetic design include architectural and urban design, artifacts design, or development of bio-materials for buildings.

Mercedes’ work also encompasses quantitative assessment of architectural solutions with a focus on BIM and energy simulation tools. Students and practitioners adopting performance simulation software tools in the early stages of the design process have more opportunities to effectively and economically integrate sustainable design strategies in their projects.

Mercedes received her PhD in Bioresource Engineering at McGill University where she coined and developed the ecomimetic method, an ecologically inspired design approach to optimize resource use in buildings. This design method guides designers in the process of understanding and emulating ecosystems’ complex dynamics, some of which allow them to evolve and adapt through time or excel in capturing and using resources for instance.

Ph.D. Opportunities

I’m interested in PhD applicants that have a genuine interest in transdisciplinary environmental research and have experience in computational and digital tools (energy simulation tools). Students from natural sciences and engineering disciplines as well as from design fields are welcomed to submit their CV and a letter of interest.