Beetle shell inspired pavilion is woven by robots (Video)

University of Stuttgart ICD / ITKE
© University of Stuttgart ICD / ITKE

From ensuring that cities function as ecosystems to zero-carbon skyscrapers of the future, the evolving disciplines of architecture, design and urban planning would do well to biomimic the processes of nature. We've previously seen inspiring examples of biomimetic building from the University of Stuttgart's Institute for Computational Design (ICD) and Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE); this year they have created a robotically woven pavilion that structurally imitates the forewings (elytra) of beetles.

ICD ITKE Research Pavilion 2013-14 from ICD on Vimeo.

© University of Stuttgart ICD / ITKE

Working closely with biologists and paleotologists from the University of Tuebingen, ICD and ITKE researchers used 3D models of beetles to develop a robotic fabrication process for creating modular, double-layered fibre composite structures, in effect lessening the formwork needed, while also allowing for more freedom to create unconventional geometries. The result is a large but very lightweight structure covering 50 square metres (538 square feet) but weighing only 593 kilograms (1,307 pounds).

© University of Stuttgart ICD / ITKE
© University of Stuttgart ICD / ITKE
© University of Stuttgart ICD / ITKE
© University of Stuttgart ICD / ITKE

Glass and carbon-fibre reinforced polymers were robotically woven into 36 interconnecting modules, then dipped in resin to lend the pavilion an excellent strength-to-weight ratio. ICD and ITKE researchers explain how insect biology connects with this intriguing method of digitally fabricated building:

The Elytra morphology is based on a double layered structure which is connected by column-like doubly curved support elements – the trabeculae. The fibre layout within a trabecula merges the upper and lower shell segments with continuous fibres. [..]

Coreless filament winding does not only save substantial resources through the needlessness of individual moulds, but in itself is a very material efficient fabrication process since there is no waste or cut-off pieces.

© University of Stuttgart ICD / ITKE
© University of Stuttgart ICD / ITKE
© University of Stuttgart ICD / ITKE
© University of Stuttgart ICD / ITKE
© University of Stuttgart ICD / ITKE
© University of Stuttgart ICD / ITKE

Another beautiful example from this institution showing how nature can influence human design intelligence; check out the ICD and ITKE's previous projects mimicking the sea urchin, a compostable pavilion, and an exhibition hall robotically prefabricated from beech plywood plates. More over at University of Stuttgart ICD and ITKE.

Tags: Architecture | Biomimicry | Downloadable Design | Germany

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