You may not know that you’re looking at the future when you see the Voxel Cloud. It’s sort of strange and different, like a movie made by Tim Burton. But it’s also what the future could look like. Buildings designed using the techniques that designed the Voxel Cloud could be the future of architecture and building.

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A threaded sculpture

The Voxel Cloud truly marries architecture, design and building into a single computer-generated program that collects and stores data. The data becomes a 3D dataset containing information about structural load, environmental conditions, building material information and more. This information is used to create a design called a Voxel Cloud.

Related: A giant, air-purifying “cloud” just popped up in the middle of Milan

An overview look at a gray sculpture

The design can be created by a machine that duplicates the lightweight, intricate filigree patterns and turns them into a real-world structure. It’s more of a scaffolding than a structure because it’s designed to not just blend into nature but to truly become a part of it. Not only can rainwater filter down through the entire structure, but plants can also grow up and through and around it as well. In time, the structure will be truly integrated into any natural landscape in which it is placed.

A tan-colored fibrous sculpture

This is a structure created by data and computer algorithms and then built by a machine. And this could truly be the future of design. Technology has become a part of our daily lives more and more. So much so, in fact, the planet is now facing crisis because the environment itself and the natural world has been ignored for far too long. This innovative program and design approach truly honors nature and gives it a place to thrive while using the latest technology and machining to create a structure that really does look like something out of the future.

An up-close image of a fibrous sculpture with a miniature human standing at the edge of it

The program was created by Julian Edelmann, a student at the University of Innsbruck, who wanted to bring computational design and digital fabrication together in an amazing way. If this is what the young minds of today are creating, there is certainly hope for the planet yet.

+ Julian Edelmann

Images via Julian Edelmann, BachelorThesis, structure and design, University of Innsbruck