In 2014, Autodesk acquired The Living, a New York-based architecture and design studio. David Benjamin, The Living’s founding principal, is adjunct assistant professor at Columbia Graduate School of Architecture and Pratt Institute. Now part of Autodesk Research, The Living explores new concepts and ideas using generative design, a way to leverage algorithms to seek and identify the best design options.
The Living’s most prominent project was the bionic partition, a 3D-printed dividing wall between the seating area and the galley of a plane. Developed in partnership with Airbus and APWorks, Autodesk calls the component “a pioneering combination of generative design, 3D printing and advanced materials.” It is “almost 50% lighter,” according to Autodesk (autodeskresearch.com/projects/bionic-partition-project).
“We created a biological algorithm based on the growth of an organism called slime mold,” explains Benjamin. “Slime mold grows to connect dots (sources of food) in networks that are both efficient and redundant. They are efficient because they use the least amount of material to connect the dots. And they are redundant because when one of the paths is broken, the network can route around the problem and stay connected … Although the size and material of the partition is different than that of slime mold, the logic is similar. And in our application, this approach worked very well.”