The role of geometry for adaptability: Comparison of shading systems and biological role models

Susanne Gosztonyi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
58 Downloads (Pure)


Dynamic shading systems represent the majority of realised adaptive façades. It seems that geometrically complex kinetic solutions have increased in recent years, mainly due to the use of parametric design tools and digital production. In most shading systems, however, geometry rarely plays a guiding role in the design. The kinetic mechanisms are confined to linear or planar geometries. Geometry plays an important role in biological organisms, because it is the decisive factor for efficiency and growth. Their growth patterns could provide new insights for dynamic shading designs. For this, spatial morphology criteria for shading systems were identified to obtain criteria directly related to geometry. These were supplemented by criteria on kinetic mechanisms. Then, biological analogies that correlate geometrical structures with adaptability were sought. Using biomimetic methods, particularly from functional morphology, principles in growth patterns were analysed and compared to shading systems. It revealed that the restriction to space, location, and material-inherent properties does not affect the solution diversity, but follows an evolutionary objective: Plants, for example, use ingenious geometrical structures to allow adaptation, mainly over lifetime but also dynamically. Whether these principles can be applied to the design of dynamic shading systems is then discussed. The aim of the paper is to provide impulses for further studies on adaptive shading systems that focus on the innovative use of space with greater flexibility in motion. The overall premise of the paper is to demonstrate the applicability of biomimetic methods for architectural engineering.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-174
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Facade Design and Engineering
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Adaptive facades
  • Biomimetics
  • Geometry
  • Growth pattern
  • Kinetic mechanisms
  • Shading systems
  • Spatial morphology


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