Flectofold Demonstrator, BauBionik Exhibition, Natural History Museum, Stuttgart, 2018

Demonstrator of a façade shading system for the special exhibition "Baubionik" of the DFG Collaborative Research Centre TRR-141

Demonstrator Video

© ITFT/ITKE University of Stuttgart, PBG University of Freiburg
Video transcription

Flectofold is an elastic-kinetic façade shading system. It has a modular design and consists of fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP) with a material gradient for the technical implementation of fiber-reinforced, local hinges. The FRP consists of glass fiber-reinforced plastic, elastomer and TPU film.

This large-scale demonstrator highlights the potential of Flectofold for application on complex architectural surfaces, exhibits the kinetic performance of pneumatically-actuated and materially-graduated FRP laminates and explores the possibilities of active and autonomous modes of control and operation.

The demonstrator consists of 36 Flectofold modules. Each Module covers an area of approximately 1 m² and has an integrated pneumatic cushion. Once pressurized (0.04 – 0.09 bar), the cushion induces elastic bending onto the body of the materially-graduated FRP laminate, and as a result generate movement and transformation. The modules are propagated on an anticlastic guiding surface and the steel sub-structure support them in space, aligns them accurately on the guiding surface, and provides all necessary detailing for integration of pneumatic actuators. The control system enables the driving of modules in an individual or synchronized fashion, based on active user input or pre-programmed sequences.

Flectofold was exhibited as part of the BauBionik Exhibition from 17.10.2017 to 01.05.2018 at the Natural History Museum in Stuttgart, Germany.

Project Team
ITKE Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design
University of Stuttgart
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jan Knippers

ITFT Institute for Textile and Fiber Technologies
University of Stuttgart
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Götz T. Gresser

PBG Plant Biomechanics Group, Botanical Garden
University of Freiburg
Prof. Dr. Thomas Speck

IBB Institute for Structural Mechanics
University of Stuttgart
Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Manfred Bischoff

Design Development
Saman Saffarian

Scientific Development
Larissa Born, Axel Körner, Anja Mader, Renate Sachse, Saman Saffarian, Anna Westermeier, Dr. Simon Poppinga, Dr. Simon Schleicher

with support of
Sandie Kate Fenton, Dongyuan Liu, Tessa Rudolph, Behrooz Tahanzadeh

Publications within the scope of this project
Körner A, Born L, Mader A, Sachse R, Saffarian S, Westermeier AS et al. Flectofold—a biomimetic compliant shading device for complex free form facades. Smart Mater. Struct. 2018;27(1):17001. https://doi.org/10.1088/1361-665X/aa9c2f.

Poppinga S, Körner A, Sachse R, Born L, Westermeier A, Hesse L et al. Compliant Mechanisms in Plants and Architecture. In: Knippers J, Nickel KG, Speck T, editors. Biomimetic Research for Architecture and Building Construction. Cham: Springer International Publishing; 2016, p. 169–193.

Saffarian S, Born L, Körner A, Mader A, Westermeier AS, Poppinga S et al. From Pure Research To Biomimetic Products: The Flectofold Facade Shading Device. In: Knippers J, Schmid U, Speck T, editors. Biomimetics for Architecture. De Gruyter; 2019, p. 42–51.

This research has been funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) as part of the Collaborative Research Centre (CRC/Transregio) 141 ‘Biological Design and Integrative Structures’/projects A03 and A04 and by InnoChain, European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie-Curie grant agreement No 642877.


This image shows Larissa  Born

Larissa Born


Deputy Director

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