Fibre Reinforced Building Envelopes Inspired by Nature: Pavilion COCOON_FS

  • Göran PohlEmail author
Part of the Biologically-Inspired Systems book series (BISY, volume 6)


Considering contemporary architecture, facades often envelope bio-morphically shaped buildings or show at least three-dimensional tectonics as well as in the near future, they tend to need additional functions embedded. As prominent solitaires show, these building envelopes use new hull materials that stand outside of what we have learned, materials can perform to building-concepts. The possibilities of modern computer technology promise an easy feasibility of these approaches, but cannot always be fulfilled by real-world building experiences. Through fundamental research of biological structures of maritime plankton, morphological characteristics of diatoms have been discovered that promise to be translated and transferred in architectural structures for buildings, especially for building envelopes. Nature produces light weight shell constructions made from biogenetic silica. In some species, morphological specialities of diatom’s frustule are hierarchically organized. The potential of structural organisation as well as the material complexity in nature leads researchers towards new developments in architecture. In the here discussed technical transformation processes, the morphological structures, as well as the principle of material compounds of diatom structures are translated into building elements that use silica in a manner comparable to nature. This new architecture also uses principles of hierarchical organisation. The abstraction of biological examples and technological implementation are realised using genetic computer algorithm and morphogenetic constructions which are transformed on technical fibre composites with silicate or carbon products. The use of highly resilient fibre composites has proven itself in the aviation industry, and stands out for its suitability for 3D shaping, which is becoming increasingly interesting for architecture. This technology promises free-form and load-capable design—two attributes which, at first glance, seem ideal for fulfilling the promises of computer-generated modelling. The portable pavilion COCOON_FS is a result of this research and development. Special glass fibres are added as composites in 3D-modelled shapes, so-called cells. The technology of fibre composite construction combines complex shapes with production-oriented advancement and highly material-efficient support and hull structures.


Fibre Reinforced Plastics Fractal construction Architecture Translucence Shell Lightweight Esthetics Biomimetics Design 



Special thanks to Dr. Christian Hamm, AWI Bremerhaven, for the support, compiling biological foundations, and consulting.. Special thanks to Julia Pohl for doing the extensive work of Pool Research and providing systems that could be transferred to a technical context. Thanks to POHL Architects, supporting the project through the professional background, led by Julia Pohl. In the team, Jan-Ruben Fischer provided parametric programming and 3D-elaboration, and Jürgen Wilhelm graphic post-production.

Matthias Pfalz, Fibertech, and Andreas Ehrlich, TU Chemnitz have been partners in the discussion to find out the production material and technique to be used for COCOON_FS.

Prof. Dr. Martin Fischer, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, has been given the opportunity to install the prototype of COCOON_FS as an integrated part of the Frank Stella Art Exhibition 2011 in Jena. Thanks to Frank Stella, the outstanding artist, for his agreement to have the pavilion in the context of his exhibition in Jena and for his friendly comments.

Special thanks to Ulrich Knaack and Tilmann Klein, Façade Research Group at TU Delft, for the constructive comments to implement this chapter as part of my further research on fibre reinforced constructions used for building envelopes.


in the context of PLANKTONTECH Virtual Institute of the Helmholtz Association, in cooperation with Institute of LIGHTWEIGHT CONSTRUCTIONS INSTITUTE, POHL ARCHITECTS and with the support of Alfred Wegner Institute in Bremerhaven

Fibre Composite Realisation

Fiber-Tech Group


Jenoptik AG and Dilitronics GmbH


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Architecture and The Built Environment, Architectural Engineering + TechnologyTU DelftDelftThe Netherlands

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