The Institute for Computational Design (ICD) and the Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE), together with students at the University of Stuttgart, Germany have realized a temporary, bionic research pavilion made of wood at the intersection of teaching and research. Under the leadership of Achim Menges of ICD and Jan Knippers by ITKE 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).
Three plate edges always meet together at just one point, a principle which enables the transmission of normal and shear forces but no bending moments between the joints, thus resulting in a bending bearing but yet deformable structure. Unlike traditional lightweight construction, which can only be applied to load optimized shapes, this new design principle can be applied to a wide range of custom geometry.