Silk Pavilion from MIT's Media Lab is a beautiful example of biomimicry

silk pavilion from MIT mediated matter
© Steven Keating

A new project from MIT's Mediated Matter Group explores how nature and technology can work together to create exquisite new materials and structures. The Silk Pavilion transmutes a silk worm's cocoon into a human-scaled architectural structure.

The primary structure was created of 26 polygonal panels made of silk threads laid down by a CNC (Computer-Numerically Controlled) machine. Inspired by the silkworm’s ability to generate a 3D cocoon out of a single multi-property silk thread (1km in length), the overall geometry of the pavilion was created using an algorithm that assigns a single continuous thread across patches providing various degrees of density.

Researchers used 3D Motion tracking to observe silk worms building cocoons and translate the process into a digital model. This became the base for a large structure--the pavilion--constructed from flat panels, woven with a single continuous thread. Silk worms were then deployed again, to further fill in the negative spaces.

Just as striking as the final structure is the process by which it was made. Beautifully captured in this video, teams of white worms and researchers in lab coats make for poetically matched construction partners.

SILK PAVILION from Mediated Matter Group on Vimeo.

The 6,500 silkworms were removed from the structure before reaching metamorphosis. The adult moths can lay 1.5 million eggs, resulting in a new generation of worms that could produce 250 new pavilions.

The project was directed by Professor Neri Oxman, who we're looking forward to hearing later this month at the Biomimicry 3.8 Global Conference later this month.

Silk Pavilion from MIT's Media Lab is a beautiful example of biomimicry
Silk worms and digital design find synethsis in the latest project from MIT's Mediated Matter Group.