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DESIGNED BY NATURE - Understanding material properties in biological materials (MA Individuelle Kompetenzvertiefung)

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The act of designing something can take different routes. At times we want to translate into physical objects a preconceived and more or less accurate idea; other times, it starts by an unstructured exploration of a material and related practices that suggests a final purpose, object, function. Almost always these two routes are traveled in a recursive and iterative process. In doing so we rely on an implicit, more or less empirical knowledge of the materials we use and their properties; we have to mediate between availability of resources and applicability of techniques; and more often than we wish, we have to find tradeoffs between what is needed and what is possible. The goal of this course is to present Nature as a designer and its way of going about similar “struggles”. We will dive into multiple examples from Nature’s world (biological tissues, organs, organisms and swarms) that bridge our basic understanding of materials properties to more exact definitions from the engineering disciplines. I will mostly focus on mechanical properties such as rigidity, stretchability, strength, toughness, etc; but also introduce optical properties such as color, reflectance, etc; active properties like force generation; and I will finish with even more exotic properties like dynamic pattern formation, self-organization etc. I will also illustrate these concepts with the help of physical props. No prior technical or scientific knowledge is required although students will need to do some reading before and during the lectures, and also experiment with the physical props in order to “apply” the concepts learned.


Textil- und Flächendesign



Wintersemester 2023 / 2024