Biomimicry: Biomimicry – Transformable Shelter

Name: Melvyn Poh Ern Meng



The current shelters mostly are difficult and time-consuming to be erected and are usually made of heavy materials. Many of them are not foldable in a configurable geometrical order which make their transportation more difficult and their storage for future use is most problematic. This paper by evaluating major existing shelters, proposes a lightweight, foldable shelter that inspired by the bat wings characteristics that can be replaced, repaired and stored in a very short period of time. The proposed structure has the capability to be expanded by adding more space to its ends and sides. Considering that the wing of the bat is the most agile flyer as compared to birds that allows them to manoeuvre in a flexible manner. The wing inspired structure frame system can meet different topographical and environmental conditions and also different functions. The structure, in addition to its main function as a temporary shelter, can be used for temporary exhibitions and also for many temporary applications. 




A mobile or temporary shelter plays an important role in responding to different architectural requirements. There is now a huge demand for temporary spaces for covid-19 patient shelter, exhibition and care units that are required to be used in different locations in different period of times. The current shelters mostly are difficult and time- consuming to be erected and also they are usually made of heavy materials. Many of them are not foldable in a configurable geometrical order which make their transportation more difficult and their storage for future use is mostly problematic. All of these mean that there is a necessity for the development of flexible and transportable units that are able to meet different expectations and requirements and have the ability to be store for future use and be deployed in a short period of time (Ergunay, 2020). 

Biological Mimicry System

Bat Wings and its Characteristics


Bats, with highly articulated wings, are some of the most agile flyers in nature. Bats distinguish themselves from insects and birds by utilizing a membranous arm-wing that includes the shoulder joint, elbow, wrist, and fingers with phalanges (Chen J, et al,2011), giving them an unparalleled capability to manipulate wing morphology and influence their flight dynamics. 

Human like Wing Characteristics

Unlike insects and birds, which have relatively rigid wings that can move in only a few directions, a bat’s wing contains multiple joints that are overlaid by a thin elastic membrane that can stretch to catch air and generate lift in many different ways. This gives bats an extraordinary amount of control over the three-dimensional shape their wings take during flight, Swartz explained that bats are operating with the same skeleton as human. Every joint in the human hand is there in the bat’s wing and actually a couple more which allows the bat to be able to extend and make fine scale adjustments during flight.

Elastic Wing and Membrane

The other key to a bat’s efficient flight lies in its highly elastic wing. Bat’s wing is mostly extended for the down stroke during straightforward flight. But because the membrane can curve and stretch much more than a bird’s wing can, bats can generate greater lift for less energy. Its tiny skin muscles also helps to control skin tension to adapt to current air speed. It also helps to generate more lift and less drag at low speeds and high angles of attack that bird or insect wing. 

Skeletal Structure Comparison

The bat wing is a modified mammalian forelimb, in which over evolutionary time, the bones have become considerably lighter and certain bones have undergone great elongation. It's revealing to compare a less highly modified forelimb from a human (Figure a) with that of a bat (Figure b). The bat's finger bones - metacarpals and phalanges - are long and thin. The ulna is greatly reduced, almost completely lost. The clawed thumb remains free and is used for moving around roosts.

Bat Wing’s Angles and Measurements

The bat wing for this, and subsequent combinations, is assumed to be a flexible membrane that can twist along the span. As a result, different sections along the span exhibit different pitching angles, the span of the wing consist of the root, inner wing and outer wing. In general the root span only consists 15% of the entire wing span while the inner wing exhibits approximately 38-40% of the span length. The root and the inner wing consists of forelimbs with higher muscle mass similarly to human arm that act as the support for the bat flight and manoeuvrability. However, the outer wing section has the longest and the most flexible muscle joint consist of 45 to 48% of the entire wing span. The outer wing sections which have the lightest bone structure behave rather independently, showing large variance in the flight variation through the flapping cycle (Gheorghe Bunget and Stefan Seelecke, 2014). 


Bat Prototype 1.jpg
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