Responsive architecture using the material’s inherent behaviour executed through computational morphogenesis. The dimensional instability of wood in relation to moisture content is employed rather than destroyed by drying out (in the construction process 70% of embodied energy goes towards making wood lose its remarkable ability to maintain moisture content with the surrounding humidity) to construct a climate responsive architectural morphology. Suspended within a humidity controlled glass case the model opens and closes in response to climate changes with no need for any technical equipment or energy. Mere fluctuations in relative humidity trigger the silent changes of material-innate movement. The material structure itself is the machine.
Achim Menges / ICD / TKE
The project explores the architectural transfer of biological principles of the sea urchin’s plate skeleton morphology by means of novel computer-based design and simulation methods, along with computer-controlled manufacturing methods for its building implementation. A particular innovation consists in the possibility of effectively extending the recognized bionic principles and related performance to a range of different geometries through computational processes, which is demonstrated by the fact that the complex morphology of the pavilion could be built exclusively with extremely thin sheets of plywood (6.5 mm), a total material area of 2m2 to cover an area of 200m2 (efficiency ratio 1:100)… that’s nature for you
Possible interrelation between biomimetic design strategies and novel processes of robotic production: this research focused on the material and morphological principles of arthropods’ exoskeletons as a source of exploration for a new composite construction paradigm in architecture.The exoskeleton of the lobster (Homarus americanus) was analysed in greater detail for its local material differentiation, which finally served as the biological role model of the project.
The lobster’s exoskeleton (the cuticle) consists of a soft part, the endocuticle, and a relatively hard layer, the exocuticle. The cuticle is a secretion product in which chitin fibrils are embedded in a protein matrix. The specific differentiation of the position and orientation of the fibres and related material properties respond to specific local requirements. The chitin fibres are incorporated in the matrix by forming individual unidirectional layers. In the areas where a non-directional load transfer is required, such individual layers are laminated together in a spiral (helicoidal) arrangement. The resulting isotropic fibre structure allows a uniform load distribution in every direction. On the other hand, areas which are subject to directional stress distributions exhibit a unidirectional layer structure, displaying an anisotropic fibre assembly which is optimized for a directed load transfer. Due to this local material differentiation, the shell creates a highly adapted and efficient structure. The abstracted morphological principles of locally adapted fibre orientation constitute the basis for the computational form generation, material design and manufacturing process of the pavilion.
The integration of the form generation methods, the computational simulations and robotic manufacturing, specifically allowed the development of a high performance structure: the pavilion requires only a shell thickness of 4mm of composite laminate while spanning 8m.