Skip to main content
Living Machines 2020

Living Machines 2020

Online Workshop - 28 July 2020

Growing structures:
bioinspired innovation insights for architecture and robotics

Venue: web workshop
Website: LM2020-workshop


Barbara Mazzolai

Director, Center for Micro-BioRobotics
Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia

Thomas Speck

Head, Plants Biomechanics Group
University of Freiburg

Mirko Kovac

Director, Aerial Robotics Lab
Imperial College London
United Kingdom


During the last decades, the fields of architecture, materials, and robotics have been increasingly enriched by the use of biomimetics and bio-inspired design. The fundamental paradigm is that key features of a large variety of organisms, such as hierarchical structure, growth and adaptation, can be exploited for inspiring the design of innovative sustainable materials, structures and robots. In the era of digitalization, artificial intelligence and automation, robotics, biomimetic design, and architecture are getting closer. In robotics for example, plants and animals have inspired the design of soft, multi-functional, adaptable, self-growing robotic structures, and the coordination of collective robots for autonomous building or repair. At the same time, architects are more and more interested in integrating robotic fabrication methods, additive manufacturing technologies, dynamic energy-efficient mechanisms, and robotically-augmented architecture, where constructions can adapt and evolve with the surrounding environment, and last but not least can be built in an energy and material efficient way.

At the interface of biomimetics, biorobotics, and architecture, this satellite event will bring together material scientists, biologists, bioroboticists, civil engineers, and architects to present the latest innovations and trends for future sustainable building construction and maintenance.

Cross-disciplinary talks will show: the form-structure-function-relationship on various hierarchical levels of biological materials and structural systems; growing and building strategies in plants and animals; plant-inspired technologies for adaptable and growing robots; biomimetic and biorobotics architectural installations and buildings; and the social implications of innovative technologies for creative arts, cultural heritage, and digital humanities. Moderated by the organizers, speakers and participants will discuss major perspectives and roadmaps, current international initiatives and projects relevant to the future urban sustainable innovation.

List of speakers

(in alphabetic order)

Animals and plants: a face‐to‐face of growing structures from biology to robotics
Mirko Kovac - Imperial College London
Barbara Mazzolai - Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia
Nicholas Rowe - Centre national de la recherche scientifique
Fritz Vollrath - Oxford University
Justin Werfel - Harvard

Biomimetic materials and technologies for architecture, robots and cultural heritage
Barbara Imhof - University of Applied Design, Vienna
Andreas Lendlein - Helmholtz‐Zentrum Geesthacht
Achim Menges - University of Stuttgart
Robert Stuart Smith - Univ. College London
Thomas Speck - University of Freiburg

Agenda of the event