A type of phytoplankton called diatoms was the inspiration behind an organic structure that recently debuted as the exhibition pavilion for the Frank Stella show in Jena, Germany.

The featherweight structure, called Cocoon_FS, was created by Erfurt-based architects Göran and Julia Pohl. They researched marine plankton organisms with the PlanktonTech organisation, of which they are members. Using nature as their inspiration, the architects created a material-efficient, lightweight composite shell that weighed only 750kg.

Cocoon_FS was made from leaf-like panels of FRP (fibre-reinforced polymer) which were screwed together to form a surprisingly strong, self-supporting sphere with a floor area of 9.5-sq-m. Structures up to twice this size are possible using this system, say its creators.

This year, Cocoon_FS will be touring the world to promote PlanktonTech’s solutions.

Photos courtesy Göran Pohl.