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Product Design
Published: 9 Jun 2016

Elytra Filament Pavilion: Biomimicry in Design

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Elytra Filament Pavilion Explores Biomimicry at London's Victoria and Albert Museum

A robotically woven carbon-fibre pavilion has been erected in the courtyard of London’s Victoria & Albert museum as part of a season of events exploring engineering.

Inspired by nature and fabricated by robots, the Elytra Filament Pavilion incorporates elements of biomimicry and comprises 40 hexagonal components. These web-like structures are modelled after elytra – the fibrous structure of beetles’ forewings.

The pavilion was designed by architect and researcher Achim Menges in collaboration with architect Moritz Dörstelmann, structural engineer Jan Knippers and climate engineer Thomas Auer. It’s part of an ongoing research project by the University of Stuttgart's Institute of Computational Design (directed by Menges) and the Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (led by Knippers), examining biomimicry in design.

“This is a live research project," said Menges. "One of the most exciting materials we've found are fibre-reinforced plastics – it's also interesting to see that nature also uses fibrous composites.” Commenting on developments in the digital arena, he added: “This is very much a showcase of how design and engineering come together. I think we're experiencing another paradigm shift, a fourth industrial revolution."

For a deeper understanding of material properties and how designers and engineers seek to craft, grow and scientifically replicate the brilliance of nature, read Direct from Nature. To investigate how the visual language of nature is going mainstream and inspiring high-tech solutions, read Biomimicry in Design and Hybrid S/S 2017.

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