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A tent like a leaf

14 September, 2010 1 comment

Sketches for a biomimetic tent by Ondrej Vaclavik

I happened to come across these sketches tonight for a biomimetic tent designed by Ondrej Vaclavik, a graduate from Prague’s Academy of Arts, Architecture, and Design.

Top view of tent

A top view rendering of the biomimetic tent. Note the clear leaf-like veins!

The structures for this tent are modeled after a leaf, with the veins forming the primary support structures for the tent. Despite the obvious beauty of this structure, it nonetheless is not immediately clear if this offers any added functionality. For example, is it lighter or stiffer? Does it shed water more effectively or deal with wind storms? Alternatively, is this a tent simply constructed for its beauty and to invoke emotions of oneness with the surrounding environment?

Irrespective of this, the design reminded me of tent caterpillars (and other similar insects) that actually will stick two or more leaves together to form a shelter while they pupate. My best guess is that the leaves provide more camouflage than protection, although I could imagine that there could be additional environmental advantages conferred from being wrapped in live, respiring leaves, possibly for temperature or humidity control.

Tent caterpillar cocoon wrapped in leaves (from web.cortland.edu)

Can this design be taken a step further: Are there certain repeatable patterns to the way the leaves or folded and stuck together that can be predictable based on the structural properties of the leaves? Are there any properties to the cell structure and their patterns relative to the veins that can be adapted for addressing construction challenges or for increasing the efficiency/organization of transport?

Interestingly, Mr. Vaclavik also has designed other rather slick looking products inspired by biological shapes, for example, this “cactus juicer”, shown below.

Cactus juicer

A juicer shaped like a cactus. The edges of the ellipses extract the juice, which is then funneled into the cup below.

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