A nature inspired web structure

Organic material-saving shapes have become increasingly important in architecture. The challenge lies in their individual yet industrial realization. The Paraknot3D allows the creation of a nature-inspired mesh structure, as it was conceived as a singularly-generable connection. It is an individually producible and therefore individually adaptable node connection for single-layered, doubly curved and yet predominantly pressure-stressed rectangular meshed nets with great potential forms. Further, this design principle could be used as a framework for facades or roofs.

Keywords: paper straw, 3D-printing, singularly-generable connection, node connection, doubly curved, recyclable, simulation process, arch, lightweight design, network structure


The initiator of the Paraknot3D project was the participation in the Designers' Open 2017 in Leipzig. The stand design is based on the desire for the most effective use of material and thus a highly resource-efficient lightweight construction as exhibition architecture. A consistent digital workflow was used for the generation, modeling and production in 3D printing. However, it was the design of the compact node geometry that made resource-efficient and time-efficient production possible.


The ParaKnot3D concept pursues the approach of combining a mathematical optimization of the network structure with the NC-controlled production of the node elements by means of additive processes such as 3D printing. The manufacturing data for the connecting elements is the result of a parametric description of both the overall structure and the node elements. The latter is an informational vehicle of constructive-geometric complexity. By varying the lengths of the connecting piece at the node, the differences in length of the rods can be compensated in large areas, without this being visually perceptible. The eccentric arrangement of the rod connections leads to an optimal force deflection in the connector and at the same time enables the docking of variable cross sections. The geometric adjustments necessary for the variable density and geometry of the three-dimensional network structure occur exclusively within the ParaKnot.


The concept was implemented prototypically and initially on a small scale using a show pavilion. It consists of 343 3D printed nodes made of polylactide (PLA), a biocompatible corn-based plastic. 554 commercial paper straws form the tubular bars of the construction. Thanks to the node concept and the 3D printing process, the pavilion could be realized with virtually no waste and bio-based materials.

With a weight of only 2.5 kg spread over a surface of about 8 m², the ParaKnot3D pavilion hints at its potential. The adaptation to large-scale applications can form the basis for significantly reduced resource consumption, including a circular economy-compatible element structure.


The ParaKnot3D Pavilion was presented for the first time at the Designers' Open 2017 in Leipzig, impressing visitors and experts alike. Currently, the FLEX research group is looking for interested partners to further develop the idea in application projects.


supervised by:

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Alexander Stahr

Dr.(I) Arch. Monica Rossi

Martin Dembski, M.Sc.

Cristoph Dijoux, M.Sc.

Lukas Franke, M.Sc.

processed by:

Marina Jostina, B.A.

Ken Kermer, B.A.

Georg Fischer, B.A.

Felix Schmidt-Kleespies, B.A.

Friederike Kühn

Jakob Rüdrich