Natural Column Project

Biomimicry is an impressive and important trend in current design. It’s also a subject that received plenty of attention at Material Xperience 2014. A great example of biomimicry is studying naturally strong structures, such as bones, and replicating the principle in an innovative way.

One of the most mysterious special items on display at Material Xperience was the Natural Column project, by researcher Daniel Büning. The project looks at novel ways to build efficient structures. It is strongly inspired by natural precedent.

It outlines a digital workflow for the design, simulation and fabrication of large-scale architectural elements that are additively manufactured, or 3D printed. All the components come with a 3D graded inner structure.

A repeat form-finding method that optimises the shape of the structure, such as a load-bearing wall, creates the best shape for a given load. So the result is the strongest structure using the least material.

The completed structures have a strange beauty, and share similarities with natural structures such as bones or trees.

To build the designs, sand was used in a Voxeljet-printer. A ‘voxel’ is the 3D versions of the pixel. After drying, the dark coloured sand hardens to form a stone like structure with holes wherever material is not required. This leaves the airy structure standing free – and strong.

You can find out more on this year’s theme for Material Xperience: The Smart Environment here.

More information at Daniel Büning’s site.