A Silk Pavillion
The researchers at MIT's Media Lab recently built what they're calling the Silk Pavillion. The pavillion is a large dome made of metal frames covered in silk, and while it is pretty, the cool thing is how it was created. While still in the planning stages, the researchers studied silkworms and how they build their cocoons. Then a robotic arm was programmed to mimic these movements and create a silk webbing around the metal frame.
After the inital webbing was placed by the robotic arm, the researchers carefully placed around 6,500 live silkworms on the web to finish the job. The results are pretty incredible—there are even holes in the dome placed to cast shadows at specific times so that the dome can be used a solar clock. Why do all of this? Well, the Media Lab folks are working on ways to improve the process of 3D printing by combining technology and natural fabricators (like silkworms) to create architecture. To see photos of the dome, read more about the project, and to see a very cool video of the whole process, check out the MIT Media Lab's Mediated Matter webpage.