ARCH Lecture: Jan Knippers “Biological Design and Integrative Structures”

Lecture | March 13 | 6:30-8:30 p.m. | 112 Wurster Hall

 College of Environmental Design

During the last few decades, computational methods have been introduced into all fields of science and technology. In architecture, they enable the geometric differentiation of building components and allow the fabrication of materials with locally adjusted physical and chemical properties. In the natural sciences, a multitude of digital analysis methods as micro CT have been introduced. The step towards digital technologies enables the direct exchange of information between until now widely separated fields of science and have opened a new era in biomimetics: local differentiation at various scales, the main feature of natural constructions, can for the first time not only be analysed, but to a certain extent also be transferred to building construction. Almost all load-bearing biological structures are fibrous composites, using the principle of anisotropy to developed finely tuned mechanical and physical properties. This may lead to the fact that fiber based building materials may play a larger role for future developments in architecture and building construction. The presentation will show various projects as the EXPO Pavilion 2010 in Yeosu, Korea, or the Elytra Pavilion at the V&A in London that attempt to explore and demonstrate the potential of biomimetic research for architecture and engineering.

Jan Knippers is a german engineer, co-founder of engineering practice Knippers Helbig Advanced Engineering ( He studied civil engineering and got a consecutive PhD at TU Berlin. Since 2000 he is chair and director of the Institute for Building Structures and Structural Design (, where he is leading research in long-span structures and novel materials. In collaboration with the Institute for Computational design he is involved in the development of the ICD + ITKE research pavilions, which deal with biomorphic form and automated robotic construction. In 2001 he co-founded Knippers Helbig in Stuttgart and in 2009 in New York. He is member of numerous national and international engineering associations.

A short video about Elytra Filament Pavilion project at the Victoria and Albert Museum is available below.

A poster for this event is available.

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