Haresh Lalvani Programs Metal Sheets to Shape Themselves into 3D Shelters


just like plants and trees don’t need to be built but grow themselves instead, architect and artist haresh lalvani wants to create buildings that do the same. as cofounder of the pratt institute center for experimental structures, lalani has had a long-running collaboration with metal fabriactor miglo/buffkin. this lead him to experiment with creating 2D sheets of perforated metal that transform into rigid 3D structures with the application of an external force, be it wind or gravity.

X-POD 138 is a self-shaped pod-like form and is an architectural minimum

lalvani has already created both towers and pop-like structures that are created using this technique. the artists self-structuring buildings are made by using a computer controlled laser cutter to perforate sheets of metal in patterns that will later allow it to be stretched into a three-dimensional structure. the process could in turn be used to create temporary housing in the wake of a natural disaster. the flat-packed houses would ‘grow’ into shape, and when covered in a textile outer layer could easily resemble tents.

PURF environments grow from metal sheets

the process combines hardware and software into intelligent materials that are essentially programmed to transform into a different shape when force is applied. lalvani’s work sets out to replicate the way that trees can grow based on genetic information within their cells. by perforating the metal sheets into specific patterns, they are able to  ‘grow’ based on instructions encoded in the material itself.

the structures could be used for emergency housing

the X-TOWER is based on how trees can grow

the perforated metal sheets expand into 3D structures