Andres Harris Bone Inspired Structure

Used under permission. All rights reserved to Andres Harris.

Andre Harris in his article Biomimetic 1.0 explains how he looked to the paradoxically lightweight yet ultra strong structure of bone found in the skulls of birds to inspire his design for a biomimetically optimized surface. We mentioned in an older post entitled Building Cars like Bone how car manufacturers have already looked to this system for arriving at more efficient and sound ways of spreading forces within the chassis of a car.

We spoke with Andres about his efforts and asked him about the details of his project and what motivates him to look to biomimicry as a design inspiration, he had the following to say:

“I approached Biomimetic design through George Jeronimidis, professor of Biomimetic Design at Reading University, and Mike Weinstock from the Architectural Association,  who introduced Biomimesis as a subject while I was studying Emergent Technologies + Design at the Architectural Association, in London.  As both explained, Nature has developed and perfected its designs through years of evolution in response to external pressures.

The main aim of my thesis was to generate a responsive structure, that could perform under different loads and external pressures, optimizing the material resources (using as little materials as possible). I found that skull tissues are structurally redundant systems,  and very light-weight at the same time, made up from a single material. These systems are differentiated: denser in the areas that undergo to higher pressure, and less dense in the areas that are less affected by external loads/pressures.
Skulls in general are extraordinary impact-resistant structures and extremely light at the same time as they protect the most important organs of an animal body and this performance and physical property can be applied in structure or architecture design. ‘Lightweight’ can be defined by the ratio of the active or life load is carried over its dead load, being the longer the better; in other words, the more loads a structure can carry with least structural inherent weight, the better. Most of the bone tissues, especially in larger song bird skulls, are build up from non-directional spongiosa cells, which mean they are configured by pneumatized cells that allow air voids between solid material areas reducing the overall weight of the structure without affecting its strength. The resultant configuration of the system is a highly strong and highly lightweight material system where the main structural performance relies on different cell components that are integrated into a major pneumatized system and it is not focalized just on the outer layer. In fact, the bone tissues of song bird skulls are formed by very thin external lamellas that enclose a sponge cancellous tissue.
The result of the study in addition to other form-finding processes originated a highly responsive, light-weight and differentiated structure that was the morphogenesis to a shell that become a pavilion in the desert.”
We would like to thank Andres for allowing us to share images associated with his research below with permission.

Used under permission. All rights reserved to Andres Harris.

Used under permisison. All rights reserved to Andres Harris.


  1. John Marcus Smith /Reply

    I found this post while researching for lightweight structures, and found this brilliant, very interesting and very accurate article from Mr. Harris. I’m intrigued in the outcome of this research. Did the pavilion get actually built? Andres Harris is a rising architect who I’ve heard about yet never had the chance to meet.George Jeromimidis on the other hand, is an emminence in the biomimetic world. Great post, great article! Thanks

      1. ebi /Reply

        hi i’m a persian student wanna some information about biomimtec architecture, and how it can inspire architectural forms and result sustainable design?

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