Friday, January 21, 2011

“The engineering principles of biological systems can be abstracted and applied to the design of artefacts and buildings, a process known as biomimetics.”

(Weinstock, M, (Synthetic) life architectures: ramification and potentials of a literal biological paradigm for architectural design, pg. 27)

“The long-proclaimed biological paradigm for architectural design must for this reason go beyond using shallow biological metaphors or a superficial biomorphic formal repertoire. The consequence is a literal understanding of the design product as a synthetic life-form embedded within dynamic and generative ecological relations.”

(Weinstock, M, pg. 18)

Michael Weinstock’s insights distinguish the pursuits in this studio from that of superficial associations that architectural projects tend to make with nature.

Janine Benyus’ discussion with Paul Clavert then provided a reference point with which to test if the biological models I could consider pursuing truly provided potentially biomemetic properties:

“What we really want to do is imitate the manufacturing process, that is, how organisms manage to grow, for instance, perfect crystals, and form them into structures that work”

(J.Benyus, Biomimicry, pg. 100)

The key word here for me was “how”.

I came across diatoms and sought to find out how their structure was formed and what influenced and dictated their unique geometry. Diatoms are unicellular algae and are a type of phytoplankton.

During my research i couldn’t help but be captivated by Haeckel’s illustrations of these organisms.

Perusing for more information i was introduced to Euplectella aspergillum, more commonly known as the venus flower basket, a Hexactenellida sponge which displayed interesting structural and tectonic properties.

The above resources go in depth regarding the “hierarchical organization from nanonmeter to macroscopic scale” ( Aizenberg, Weaver, Thanwala, Sundar, Morse, Fratzl, Skeleton of Euplectella sp.: structural hierarchy from the nanoscale to the macroscale) specifically the self organisational properties of the silicate spicule shell that sheathes the sponge. I was excited that this resonated with a couple of points that Benyus makes about “an ordered hierarchy of structure” (Benyus, pg 98) and self assembly. The how involves (without getting into too much detail), at the smallest scale, the spicule forming in concentric layering. These spicules, at the same time are growing in bundles. These bundles grow horizontally, vertically, and diagonally in a concentric manner to create the cucumber-like form.

I was unsure of what the following steps would be with using such a model in order to achieve a structurally stable form. Would this simply be an exoskeleton grafted onto a topology of my formation?

The primary criticisms I came under involved the generic properties of the structural configuration, if it were to be pursued with steel. It has basically what is done with steel as it is. Furthermore the bundling and excessive members were seen as inefficient. Lastly the focus on detail overshadows the competition’s call for an overall gesture to hopefully provide the impression that a good entry would demand.

Some possible new points for further exploration:

Endosekelton in organisms of a simpler nature:


Maybe another approach would be to define an architectural objective or intent and search for a biomimetic model that would accommodate such a goal.

In other news:

My desk as of the first week- it will be interesting to see how this evolves with each post.

Oh and Mitch, the awkward and spontaneous hugger.

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