SAARBRÜCKEN – A cocoon-like temporary summer pavilion in Saarbrücken, Germany, is the result of a research project on biomimicry conducted at the city’s architecture school.

Biomimicry, a design approach that takes nature as its guiding principle, is the specialism of Professor Göran Pohl, who headed the BOWOOSS research project. For the pavillion, Pohl’s team attempted to adapt the principles of biomimicry to traditional wood architecture, executing the final design in plywood and wood laminate using standard tools and techniques.

The structure of the pavilion is based on diatoms, single-celled algae which combine strength and lightness. The design uses three-dimensional ribs of 60-80mm laminated wood and pore-like openings (set in 30mm folded plywood planes) adapted from the diatom structure, which give a self-stabilizing result.

The CAD-generated plans were followed by carpenters using standard tools, rather than high-tech machinery currently in limited use – a fact that Pohl hopes will ensure more widespread use of radically biomimetic designs.

For more nature-inspired architecture by Göran Pohl, see Frame #86