Treading Air

Flying machine

Academic project
Washington University in St. Louis
arch 112 / Spring 2017
Instructed by Elisa Kim

The Peacock Mantis Shrimp owes its evolutionary success to its brightly-colored outer shell and ability to move its abdomen swiftly to violently attack prey. The pleopods (swimming legs) and segmented shelled abdomen allow for flexible movement, yet the mechanics are intricately rigid.

The crustacean's specialized movement informed the design of a 'flying machine,' a kite that moves through the wind inspired by how the Mantis Shrimp treads and propels through the water. Circular, sliding joints allow the kite's panels to move in tandem. For strength, panels made out of mylar were securely sewn onto and sandwiched between basswood components. The marbelized, sea green kite skin pays homage to the Mantis Shrimp's colorful exoskeleton that played a crucial role in its evolution.