Last summer, a team in Stuttgart wanted to design a prefabricated pavilion using computer-based design and computer-controlled manufacturing methods while integrating biomimicry in a structural sense. Their solution was based around creating an adaptable modular system, and after analyzing a variety of biological structures, they were inspired by the plate skeleton of the sand dollar (a sub-species of the sea urchin.) The shell of this creature is made up of many polygonal plates, connected at the edges by finger-like joints. As a result of this analysis of the sand dollar, the pavilion can achieve a high load bearing capacity through its modular system: Three plate edges always meet together at just one point, which allows both normal and shear forces but no bending moments between the joints. I think this project is a great example of how we can analyze and test various biotic principles as they relate to architecture and design.
Images courtesy of © ICD / ITKE University of Stuttgart