Authors : ICD/ITKE (Institute for Computational Design/Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design)

University : University of Stuttgart, Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning

Status : 2011

Advisors : Achim Menges, Dr. Jan Knippers

Title : Research Pavilion

In summer 2011 the Institute for Computational Design (ICD) and the Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE), together with students at the University of Stuttgart have realized a temporary, bionic research pavilion made of wood at the intersection of teaching and research.

The project explores the architectural transfer of biological principles of the sea urchin’s plate skeleton morphology by means of novel computer-based design and simulation methods, along with computer-controlled manufacturing methods for its building implementation.

A particular innovation consists in the possibility of effectively extending the recognized bionic principles and related performance to a range of different geometries through computational processes, which is demonstrated by the fact that the complex morphology of the pavilion could be built exclusively with extremely thin sheets of plywood (6.5 mm).

The research pavilion offered the opportunity to investigate methods of modular bionic construction using   freeform surfaces representing different geometric characteristics while developing two distinct spatial entities: one large interior space with a porous inner layer and a big opening, facing the public square between the University’s buildings, and a smaller interstitial space enveloped between the two layers that exhibits the constructive logic of the double layer shell.

Project Team :

Institute for Computational Design – Prof. AA Dipl.(Hons) Achim Menges Achim Menges

Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design – Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jan Knippers

Competence Network Biomimetics Baden-Württemberg


Oliver David Krieg, Boyan Mihaylov


Peter Brachat, Benjamin Busch, Solmaz Fahimian, Christin Gegenheimer, Nicola Haberbosch, Elias Kästle, Oliver David Krieg, Yong Sung Kwon, Boyan Mihaylov, Hongmei Zhai


Markus Gabler (project management), Riccardo La Magna (structural design), Steffen Reichert (detailing), Tobias Schwinn (project management), Frédéric Waimer (structural design)


Main sponsors: KUKA Roboter GmbH, Ochs GmbH

Sponsors: KST2 Systemtechnik GmbH, Landesbetrieb Forst Baden-Württemberg (ForstBW), Stiftungen LBBW, Leitz GmbH & Co. KG, MüllerBlaustein Holzbau GmbH, Hermann Rothfuss Bauunternehmung GmbH & Co., Ullrich & Schön GmbH, Holzhandlung Wider GmbH & Co. KG


Address Keplerstr. 11-17, 70174 Stuttgart
Date of completion August 2011
Surface 72m²
Volume 200m³
Material 275 m² Birch plywood 6,5mm Sheet thickness