Patternity by Frank Minnaërt



Patternity is the title of a research project by Sydney-based architect Frank Minnaërt, which explores the potential for transferring characteristics found in the epithelia membranes of living organisms to the field of architecture.


A model called Patternity_ds42 (below) will be on display as part of the Australian exhibition Abundant at the Venice Architecture Biennale this September.


Here's an explanation from Minnaërt:


Patternity describes a research process investigating the topological properties of epithelia. In living organisms, these membranes constitute reactive borders between two environments and have specific functions: movement, exchange, selective permeability, mechanical and chemical protection.


By considering the ability of these membranes to generate types of multifunctional and relational patterns, the objective is to evaluate what could then be transposed into the field of architecture.


Based on the ambivalent functions, organisational modes, regeneration processes, spatial deformations and continuous transformations of a particular epithelium, Patternity_ds42 has been generated as a physical test model, through an adaptive replication of its components.



Posted on Tuesday July 8th 2008 at 4:24 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Vico

    Looks like a fine exercise in making a lot out of a little. I’m sure we all needed to see shots of the model in both moody lighting and blue wash.


  • the brown bear

    What a load of naff nonsense. I know that the form come from natural elements etc but trying to adapt them to architecture is surely just fancy shape making. The structure and shape of architecture comes as a result of the design not the other way around. Form follows function.

  • edward

    The problem of constructing an analog of natural organic growths in construction, is that such methods/materials don’t exist as yet out side of maybe say leather tents or teepees.

  • tim

    hey I think I saw this in 1993. except it wasn’t just mirrored into four forms back then.

  • shapes

    first thought I had was Greg Lynn’s work 10 years ago…. this is cute but you can find this type of geometry studies in almost every major architecture school website student archive… i don’t see significance here…but probably its only me…

  • cpcp

    what has this achieved exactly

  • Jogg

    A picture of where this is coming from would have been nice. If you show something so abstract the process is more important than the result. Otherwise, interesting forms that don’t mean much/anything.

  • gaque

    this would be interesting if the architecture was actually PERFORMING in some way.

    if you’re so stuck on making a sexy form, at least make it do something…like funnel wind or precipitation in a certain way so that it does SOMETHING, ANYTHING. otherwise: dont even bother with this biomimicry stuff…its embarrassing.

  • K. Rimane

    what a beautiful piece of crap that is. but does it need to be exhibited and even mentioned. I don’t think so.

  • Kleinman

    is this a joke? must have been a slow day here…

  • Arya

    anyone with a voronoi rhinoscript or indeed any other program and half an hour of time can reproduce whats been shown here. thanks for nothing.

  • Rockstar

    not even enough quality for a first year student project…

  • xearo

    this is nonsense – the engineering principle is fine
    ‘reactive borders’ but don’t normal building skins replicate this function anyway?
    its fallacious to suggest that that was his goal in this excersise, how did he jump from a ‘reactive border’ to a replicated wibbly wobbly shape which looks printed and therefore is a solid dumb matter object – in what way is it reactive?
    if he had gone about making studies of these reactive borders -and gone about it with some rigor maybe this wouldn’t be a carbon copy of all the other wibbly wobbly archi-sculptures peddled out accross the globe

    aside from that – i really like the photo just above the explanation ~(the one that looks like milky teeth) really cool!

  • xtiaan

    they would make lovely vases’….

  • Paul, Yorkshire

    At least someones thinking outside the box for a change…
    But then again i cant see that theyve discovered anything new
    that could be used in architecture.
    Maybe its just going over my head.

  • Plankton

    I am very disappointed to read all those comments… I don’t know if you are just jealous or frustrated but you are certainly not objective…
    As is it said on the text wrote by the architect, this is an exploration. He never said that is the project of the year or a new kind of architecture…just research, and try to find new sources of inspirations to create architecture. Can’t you see the poetry in the relation between spaces and epithelium’s structure…

    I want to say WELL DONE, because we need persons like you who try things to find new ways of thinking…

  • Fling

    In biology and medicine, epithelium is a tissue composed of layers of cells that line the cavities and surfaces of structures throughout the body. It is also the type of tissue of which many glands are formed.
    It is also known as a load of old bollocks.

  • rodney

    why do people think we need another useless blobject?

    boring crap.

  • rodney

    …besides…this has been done over and over…it’s nothing new.l..

  • mvb

    I think this object is not a research, is just the result of a process that I have to believe because there are no images of it. That is why it seems banal or useless. Seeing the previous steps I could appreciate if the proposal has any sense.

  • bojana vuksanovic

    looking at how nature deals with problems (and clearly manages very succesfully!) is for sure worth exploring… now… how do we implement that in architecture that are human’s brain constructions is another matter… a brain has ability to go beyond what is there…. or at least i hope so…

  • monsieur!

    bojana, good quality claptrap

  • bojana vuksanovic

    mr. monsieur, if any of the words offended your inteligence, it would be far more interesting to read some sort of thought of your side…. that the rest of us humans can learn something from you and evolve further…

  • Bernd

    dear minnaert,
    i agree with the comments above that for now all this
    is art only and far from being architecture. could you therefor
    please resubmit your entry in one year time once you have
    proven how these spaces are going to be inhabited.

    our friend aldo rossi said: architecture is made out of
    architectures. i believe in this a lot. however architectures
    are often made of of objects and your investiagtion poses
    the question where it all begins. the greeks made plants
    from stone and in the renaissance fabric has been
    chiselled from marble.all this is organic too.
    but is it part of a transformation process that at the end
    leads to a building. with windows and these days with a
    water- proff membrane.
    where can i think in there, love, cook and shit?
    i can’t see it yet.

  • xtiaan


    Im neither jealous nor frustrated (well im a little frustrated, but I live in a small town and its hard to get laid), and I was being objective, these WOULD make lovely vases. Id buy one if they were. I can imagine buying a bunch of them to make a ring on a table with the occaisonal florid orchid poking out, see that would totally work!

    Asides from that hes kinda missed the train re organic buildings

    this guy is the ubermensch of said architecture, he was doing it way back when, when noone else was, and referencing 50’s bubble membrane experiments to boot.

    So please excuse us all for looking a little nonplussed

  • stixR

    hey, bojana, agree in full…. if everyone who gave their useless comment on how bad the project was, gave some constructive thought of which direction it is meant to take…. our evolutionary advancement would surprise mr. darwin himself, if he was able to witness it, that is….