FUNDING: Andlinger Innovation Fund

Current structural design theory holds that excessive elastic deformations are undesirable in architectural structures. Our study challenges that philosophy with the hypothesis that elastic deformations, found in complex plant movements, can be successfully scaled up as a shape-shifting strategy for lighter and mechanically less complex shading modules. If this premise is substantiated, we will make a significant leap in fundamental engineering knowledge in the area of energy-efficient architecture. Being lightweight, these modules will bring along lower economic and environmental cost for manufacturing, transportation, maintenance, and actuation energy. Current deployable structures rely on technical hinges, and costly and fragile actuation. By contrast, plants rely on the flexible, elastic properties of mostly one organ to move. In addition they need few and small actuation forces. Without exactly imitating the plant motion, the research goal of this project is to identify shape-shifting, scaling and structural laws behind these elastic phenomena as drivers for innovation in energy-efficient architecture.