Dipali Aphale



annotated navigational tiles for redesigned tactile paving



A.N.T. stands for Annotated Navigational Tiles. It is a redesign of the tactile paving systems used for the spatial movement of visually impaired users.  We propagated and tested our research questions and hypotheses within the Brickyard at NC State University.  This site was chosen as it is a main intersection within the campus and offers the diversity of a transient space, surrounded by minor and major destination points.

The idea was conceived in an experimental cross-disciplinary class led by two entomologists and an architect. The course introduced us to the fields of bio-mimicry, material ecology, and other intersections of design, engineering, biology, and ecology. In the course’s inaugural year we researched different ant species underway at NC State University and the NC Museum of Natural Sciences.  We formed our own research questions and hypotheses, and were tasked to design research experiments to further study ant-specific traits as well as speculate on opportunities to apply select traits in the design of our built environment- from products to textile patterns to urban systems.

As biomimicry is still an up-and-coming field, designers often approach it using these three steps:

  1. Consider a wicked problem (i.e. world hunger, clean water, etc.)

  2. Find a natural process, animal, or phenomenon that seem to solve problem in their own context

  3. Scale it up for human design solutions

However, our reversed approach of finding biodiversity, researching its uses, and then deriving a design solution, proved to be more thought provoking.  The A.N.T. serves as a form of conceptual biomimicry in which ants were the subject of study and design solutions were translated based upon the rich biodiversity within their cuticle structures.



Lisa Wong

Dipali Aphale

Rachel Pollock


This page is still under construction-- please refer to the presentation above for details about this project! If you have any more questions, feel free to drop me a line.