Biomimetic Flow

| 48-305 Interbreeding Architecture | Spring 2018 | 

This project explores the possibilities of embedding sensorial effects into multi-material architectural assemblies. By combining fiber optics with silicone rubber and PLC printed forms we created a biomimetic system which harmonizes the systematic logics of minimal surfaces and swarming behaviors in species such as ants. The principles of minimal surfaces were employed to create a modular logic of a construct, while the swarming algorithm informed the linear paths of fiber optic channel through the system in order to create a range of lighting effects.

Modules were digitally generated and used to produce casting molds for pouring silicone rubber. Fiber optic pathways were physically embedded into each module based on a digital simulation of studied swarming behaviors. 3-D printed modules were also introduced to broaden the range of lighting effects in the system and to add structural integrity to the piece. The result is the generation of new material effects which could inform larger scale projects within the realm of architecture.

*In collaboration with Veronica Wang and Yang Gao. Advised by Prof. Dana Cupkova 

Material Testing

            Following initial research, the project was begun with simple material tests to build a framework for understanding the potential applications, tactility, and lighting effects of our selected rubber material. These analog investigations were refined through the introduction of digital 3-D modeling and computational rule sets which strengthened the richness of the proposal and led to a greater level of resolution in the final model. The ideal form was digitally modeled and assembled however the physical construction had to be a product of the analog reality that was putting it together.


Test 1: The Effects of Thickness

Test 2: System Stepping

Test 3: Digital Stepping Refinement

Test 4: Embedding Pathways

Test 5: Printing With Light

Research and System Logic

            Research focused on natural swarming behavior in species such as ants as well as development of an algorithmic minimal surface logic occurred in conjunction with our material tests. The goal of our research was to understand behavioral patterns found in common organisms and translate them into a series of computational rulesets to inform our architectural system. Swarming patterns were examined and reconstructed through virtual simulations using 'bots' and 'particle agents' while minimal surface studies were generated using parametrization tools. 

Module Fabrication

            Our approach to fabricating a physical representation of our system had to be informed by the reality of assembling a series of modular complex shapes. We generated 3-D printed molds from digital modules which allowed us to cast our forms using silicone rubber. Fiber optic pathways were embedded into the mold using metal rods as placeholders. We introduced  3-D printed modules to render the system stable enough to stand and add both an opaque contrast to the rubber as well as a secondary lighting effect. 

Final Proposal


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