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Architects, biologists and students in Stuttgart weave a structural web

Fabric Structures, Projects | June 1, 2013 | By:

New digitally-driven technology explores what it means to build buildings.

The strikingly beautiful pavilion at the University of Stuttgart, Germany, gets most of its attention on closer examination. Its digitally woven skin is the product of ongoing research collaboration among architects, biologists and students at the Institute for Computational Design (ICD) and the Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE). The research team examined lobster exoskeletons, specifically focusing on material differentiation along the cross-section of the organism’s shell, and then relied on a six-axis robotic arm to accurately weave the carbon and glass fibers that were stretched across a temporary steel frame while being woven. The result is a pavilion measuring 3.5m tall and 8m in diameter, yet weighs less than 320kg and measures just 4mm thick.

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