Complex systems challenges like those facing 21st-century humanity, require system-level solutions that avoid siloed or unnecessarily narrow responses. System-level biomimicry aims to identify and adopt design approaches that have been developed and refined within ecosystems over 3.8 billion years of evolution. While not new, system-level biomimetic solutions have been less widely applied in urban design than the ‘form’ and ‘process’ level counterparts. This paper explores insights from a selection of system-level case studies in the built environment, using meta-analysis to investigate common challenges and priorities from these projects to support knowledge-sharing and continued development in the field. Using a grounded research approach, common themes are distilled, and findings presented regarding success and barriers to implementation and scaling. Considering the findings, and drawing on complex adaptive systems theory, the paper posits opportunities to facilitate broader implementation and mainstreaming of system-level biomimetic design approaches in the built environment.
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