Responsive Autonomous Surface Structures

Associated Project 1 (AP 1)


The built environment is responsible for a major part of global energy consumption, which makes weather responsive adaptive building envelopes increasingly important. While weather responsive architecture is typically conceived as an added function with numerous sensing, actuating and regulating devices, a fundamentally different design strategy for environmental responsiveness has evolved in biological systems. Hygroscopically actuated plant structures present biological concept generators for the development of weather-adaptive, autonomously actuated, passive building envelopes.

The aim of this research project is to identify construction and functional principles of plant structures at various hierarchical levels that will be abstracted and implemented into adaptive architectural systems. The project focuses on structures that perform multi-phase motion, i.e. sequences of diverse motion steps. The individual movement steps can either take place one after the other or represent individual reactions to different stimuli, which will lead to diverse, versatile bionic kinetic structures. In order to achieve the transfer to technology, the development of a new class of 3D-printable hydrogel assemblies, as well as their integration in new environmentally responsive architectural envelopes will be undertaken.


Prof. Achim Menges
Institute for Computational Design and Construction (ICD), University of Stuttgart
Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Manfred Bischoff
Institut für Baustatik und Baudynamik (IBB), University of Stuttgart


Yasaman Tahouni (ICD)
Rebecca Thierer (IBB)
Dylan Wood (ICD)


Prof. Dr. Thomas Speck, Dr. Simon Poppinga, Plant Biomechanics Group, University of Freiburg
Prof. Dr. Jürgen Rühe, Friederike Krüger, Department of Microsystems Engineering, Chemistry and Physics of Interfaces, University of Freiburg

Ministerium für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Kunst (MWK -33-7533.-30-121/15/3)



  1. 2024

    1. Opgenorth, N., Cheng, T., Lauer, P. R. A., Stark, T., Tahouni, Y., Treml, S., Göbel, M., Kiesewetter, L., Schlopschnat, C., Zorn, M. B., Yang, X., Amtsberg, F., Wagner, H. J., Wood, D., Sawodny, O., Wortmann, T., & Menges, A. (2024). Multi-scalar computational fabrication and construction of bio-based building envelopes – the livMatS biomimetic shell. Fabricate 2024: Creating Resourceful Futures, 22–31.
  2. 2022

    1. Tahouni, Y., Cheng, T., Lajewski, S., Benz, J., Bonten, C., Wood, D., & Menges, A. (2022). Codesign of Biobased Cellulose-Filled Filaments and Mesostructures for 4D Printing Humidity Responsive Smart Structures. 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing.
  3. 2021

    1. Krüger, F., Thierer, R., Tahouni, Y., Sachse, R., Wood, D., Menges, A., Bischoff, M., & Rühe, J. (2021). Development of a Material Design Space for 4D-Printed Bio-Inspired Hygroscopically Actuated Bilayer Structures with Unequal Effective Layer Widths. Biomimetics, 6(4), Article 4.
    2. Tahouni, Y., Krüger, F., Poppinga, S., Wood, D., Pfaff, M., Rühe, J., Speck, T., & Menges, A. (2021). Programming sequential motion steps in 4D-printed hygromorphs by architected mesostructure and differential hygro-responsiveness. Bioinspiration & Biomimetics.
  4. 2020

    1. Correa, D., Poppinga, S., Mylo, M., Westermeier, A., Bruchmann, B., Menges, A., & Speck, T. (2020). 4D pine scale: biomimetic 4D printed autonomous scale and flap structures capable of multi-phase movement. Philosophical Transactions. Series A, Mathematical, Physical, and Engineering Sciences, 378, 20190445.
    2. Poppinga, S., Correa, D., Bruchmann, B., Menges, A., & Speck, T. (2020). Plant Movements as Concept Generators for the Development of Biomimetic Compliant Mechanisms. Integrative and Comparative Biology, 60(1), Article 1.
    3. Tahouni, Y., Cheng, T., Wood, D., Sachse, R., Thierer, R., Bischoff, M., & Menges, A. (2020). Self-shaping Curved Folding: A 4D-printing method for fabrication of self-folding curved crease structures. Symposium on Computational Fabrication (SCF ’20).


  1. 2020

    1. Menges, A., & Reichert, S. (2020). Seeking Material Capacity and Embedded Responsiveness: Design and Fabrication of Physically Programmed Architectural Constructs. In M. Kanaani (Ed.), The Routledge Companion to Paradigms of Performativity in Design and Architecture: Using Time to Craft an Enduring, Resilient and Relevant Architecture (pp. 240--259). Routledge.



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