The termites of the genus Macrotermes live in underground colonies of nearly two million individuals (workers, reproductives and alates). Collectively, the termites and the fungi they cultivate consume about as much oxygen as we do. To meet this intense oxygen demand, the termites build a 'dirt lung' - the mound, which captures energy in wind and sun to power the gas exchange, similarly to how our own lungs use muscle power to drive their function.
The function of the 'dirt lung' of the mound is predicated on a particular architecture, just as the function of our own lungs requires a particular architecture. How these remarkable functional architectures emerge is a long-standing problem in physiology: in the case of the mound, it is literally physiology 'from the ground up.'It is also architecture of a type that is unique to living architecture: it is not so much object as process.
The mound and the physiology it embodies is the outcome of the collective behavior of the swarm. Mounds are built and maintained on the basis of a cognitive interaction between termite, material and constructed environment that controls the rate and patterns of soil transport mediated by the termites themselves. The mound, in short, is an expression of swarm cognition.