Simon Schleicher

Simon Schleicher received a Masters degree from MIT in Architecture and a Bachelors degree with Honours from the University of Stuttgart. Simon is currently working as Research Associate / Cand. Dr.-Ing. at the Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design. The institute is headed by Prof. Dr. Jan Knippers.
His research aims to transfer bending and folding mechanisms found in plant movements to elastic systems in architecture. His work has won various awards including the International Bionic-Award 2012, the DETAIL prize 2011, the Ralph Adam Cram Award 2010, the Imre Halasz Thesis Prize 2009, the British Institution Award 2007, and the Pininfarina-Förderpreis 2006. Simon was recipient of a Departmental Scholarship Award as well as a Merit-Based Full-Tuition Scholarship at MIT. Furthermore, he received grants from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and from the Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes (German National Academic Foundation), which awards the top 0.7% of German students.

Talk: Transferring principles of plant movements to elastic systems in architecture

In architecture, kinetic structures enable buildings to react specifically to internal and external stimuli through spatial adjustments. These mechanical devices come in all shapes and sizes and are traditionally conceptualized as uniform and compatible modules. Typically, these systems gain their adjustability by connecting rigid elements with highly strained hinges. Even though this construction principle may be generally beneficial, for architectural applications that increasingly demand custom-made solutions it has some major drawbacks. Adaptation to irregular geometries, for example, can only be achieved with additional mechanical complexity, which makes these devices often very expensive, prone to failure, and maintenance-intensive.

In his work, Simon Schleicher is searching for a promising alternative to the still persisting paradigm of rigid-body mechanics and has found inspiration in flexible and elastic plant movements. He will demonstrate how today’s computational modeling and simulation techniques can help to reveal motion principles in plants and how to integrate the underlying mechanisms in flexible kinetic structures. By presenting various case studies and discussing key aspects concerning their scaling, distortion, and optimization, will clarify important steps of this transfer process. Finally, Simon will apply the acquired knowledge on bio-inspired mechanisms to the design of an exemplary application, in this case, elastic shading devices for double curved facades.