Load-responsive cellular envelopes with additive manufacturing

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The last decades have been marked by a growing concern over scarcity of resources caused by the rapid industrialization of emerging economies as well as by the high material consumption at a global scale. These changing environmental conditions have inevitably created new challenges and demands for mediation of the interaction between the natural and the human-made environments. In response to these challenges, designers are currently moving away from conventional top-down design, towards a nature-inspired approach in search of the underlying principles of morphogenesis and materialization inherent to biological entities. Inscribed in this approach, this paper proposes an innovative design-to-fabrication workflow for the conception of nature-inspired load-responsive skin systems which integrates the use of computational tools, Additive Manufacturing, and material experiments with full-scale prototypes. The design phase employs custom algorithms to determine an optimal material distribution for free-form architectural shapes, given a specific loading condition. Through fabrication tests at different scales, the viability of a production system based on Fused Deposition Modelling is demonstrated. Subsequently, the realization of a final prototype of a load-responsive cellular envelope cladded with Fiber-Glass Reinforced Plastic is presented. Opportunities and current limitations of the approach and the emerging architectural system are critically discussed towards future developments.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Facade Design and Engineering
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)37-49
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 1. Jan 2017


  • Additive Manufacturing
  • Cellular lattice
  • Computational Design
  • Digital fabrication
  • Skin System


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